As Singapore exited its Circuit Breaker, each day brought small to big adjustments or indications of upcoming changes. Globally, COVID-19 continues to impact in different ways around the world, and there is a glimmer of hope, now some countries can communicate pathways out of the crisis. Thankfully, the number of confirmed cases is plummeting in some countries such as Australia, Germany, and Thailand. Some other countries are even gradually lifting their lockdowns.
2020 has been a year like no other for the F&B industry and as well for many people. It can often feel as though we are facing continuous challenges, as individuals, as communities and as a society. For restaurants, we recognise that it is going to be a very slow and gradual process of reopening and restoring employment beyond. It will be a rebound that won’t happen overnight. Post-pandemic guest expectations of the “New Normal”- public health conditions, sensitisation and hygiene standards across the F&B industry will be unlike anything we have experienced before. However, we would like to take the opportunity to share some thoughts and actions that have been executed in NamNam with you.
In Singapore, our “circuit-breaker” measure was due to be lifted on May 4, but it was later extended to June 1. We are now about weeks away before we can finally start easing back into our old routines — going to the office, dining out, or even hanging out at a friend’s place. However, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong has warned that life will not “revert to normal” when the ‘circuit breaker’ ends. So what will the new normal look like in restaurants?
In Singapore, we have a three-phased approach to resume activities safely, post-circuit breaker. Phase one, from June 2, will last for at least four weeks while some restrictions are eased. Phase two will last several months as even more measures are lifted. This will lead to phase three, which will be the “new normal” until a vaccine or treatment is found for Covid-19.
Yes, restaurants are scheduled to reopen in Phase two, along with other food and beverage establishments, for dine-in options, though with social distancing and crowd control measures in place.
Reopening means there will be an increase in activities and human contact, and more opportunities for the virus to spread. For us, we took some time during the current temporary closure to explore how to adapt and improve operations to these new norms and move forward safely and practically in the post-COVID world.
We examined what we would like to save, gave space to things that nourish us and our communities, and discarded what we believe doesn’t deserve to survive. We need to go further and deeper with our approach, fundamentally rethink what it even means to be a restaurant.
Internally, we decided to work towards even higher standards of hygiene and sanitisation measures above and beyond regulatory requirements, focusing even more intently on making our employees, as well as guests, feel safe in their physical spaces. Tables are moved further apart, and operational processes are changed to make everyone involved feel more comfortable as we get used to being around one another once more.
All our employees will be wearing face masks and food handlers will also be equipped with mouth shield as well as gloves to protect themselves, co-workers and guests that are around them. Personal hygiene is our top priority and is expected to continue to be a concern even after the pandemic is over.
We also always carry sanitisers with us and disinfect our premise surfaces frequently to keep the virus at bay. This might sound extreme, but handshakes may even be a thing of the past.
Heightened hygienic practices include peer observation and supervisor oversight to ensure our team members are washing hands frequently and correctly, gloves have to be used and must be changed properly, and that staffs avoid touching their eyes, nose or mouth.
Hand sanitizer dispensers with signs posted are provided throughout the restaurant, particularly at the entrance and self-pickup food counter.
We have taken measures (e.g. tape on floors/sidewalks/cashier/food pick-up counter) to minimize face-to-face contact that allows.
Furthermore, we have temperature-screening procedures in place. Employees with temperatures exceeding 37 degrees Celsius would then have to be refused from working on shift.
One great thing in our restaurants that our guests can bring about is contactless dining. From checking in to the restaurant and seating themselves, to ordering and online payment via our web app, limiting contact with staff would go a long way to maintain social distancing and hygiene norms.
Our goal is to be ready when we resume dine-in operations in phase two, and you can keep yourself posted on the latest development through our Facebook page and website. We thank you for your understanding and look forward to serving you as soon as we know that we can do so safely for all of you.