How to Protect Yourself from Coronavirus as a Server or Bartender (and Prevent the Spread)
Tips for Servers and Bartenders who Want to Protect Themselves (and their Guests) During the Coronavirus Outbreak
As a server or bartender, you are coming into contact with many people who can potentially be carrying the corona virus on a daily basis. Since the virus is spread via respiratory air droplets in your breath (like a sneeze or a cough) it’s very possible you can contract coronavirus from serving your guests. You can also infect guests if you have the corona virus that causes COVID-19 and not know it.
It’s a scary thought but there are ways to protect yourself from coronavirus when you are waiting tables or bartending. Most revolve around hygiene but taking a few more basic steps during your server and bartending shifts can help you reduce the risk of contracting and spreading the coronavirus.
Wash Your Hands in Between Tables
This is the most important and effective method to prevent corona virus for servers and bartenders. The corona virus spreads through contact so anything you touch, whether it’s a glass, plate or silverware, could potentially carry the virus. Studies have shown mixed results as to how long the virus can survive on surfaces and times range from anywhere from a few hours to days. But one study concluded it could last several days (if it is similar to its related SARS viruses) on surfaces like metal, glass and plastic. That means it can be on utensils and glassware. So even if it means you are constantly going to the bathroom, wash your hands and be careful about what you touch while you are in there.
Use Hand Sanitizer Frequently
Using hand sanitizer is another great way to prevent the spread of coronavirus especially if you just can’t wash your hands in between serving every table. Sanitizer only takes a few seconds to apply and you can buy small travel sizes that can be kept in your pocket.
Buy sanitizer that is more than 70% alcohol, that is the best way to kill the virus. Use it whenever you come in contact with a table, clear plates, glasses, dishes or other items that infected people may have touched.
Clean and Sanitize Everything
Not all guests are as clean and hygienic as we’d like. So, be sure to clean and sanitize your tables and workstations frequently with alcohol-based and germicidal cleaners. The alcohol is what kills the virus by dissolving the fatty bilayers that hold it together.
Washing and sanitizing bathrooms, bus stations, your bar top and tables will help kill the virus on those surfaces! That can really help limit the spread of these killer germs.
Sanitize your door knobs and doors, your seats and anything else guests touch or come in contact with.
You should already be washing all your glassware, plates and silverware every time they are used, but it wouldn’t hurt to ensure your cleaning materials and equipment are working flawlessly.
If you are tending bar, wash out all your utensils, clean your prep stations, all your prep tools, bar mats and even your napkin holders.
Also, make sure you are washing your clothes and uniforms nightly and use bleach when safe to use.
Remove Your Bar Top Munchies and Snack Bowls
Those bowls of popcorn and nuts are great when customers want a salty snack, but they are a hotbed of germ transfer and a nightmare during a virus outbreak. Customers will be thankful if you remove them during the coronavirus outbreak. In most cases they won’t be in a sharing mood and won’t want to touch the community-based snacks for fear of getting the virus.
Wear Masks and Gloves
Bartenders and waitstaff should not feel weird about wearing a mask or latex gloves. You are coming in contact with many people everyday and there’s no way to tell who might have the virus. Your guests will understand and they should be thankful! You are protecting them from possible contamination. Ask your manager to provide these items to you!
Cover Your Face When You Sneeze
Cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze with a tissue. Then throw that tissue away right away. You may not want to sneeze into your arm if you are cradling dishes or other items come in contact with your sleeve.
Handling Customers that Are Sick
If you have customers that are sick be gracious but very conscientious. Give them tissues and ask them to politely cover their mouth and nose when they sneeze. After they leave wear Personal Protective Equipment including a face mask and gloves while you completely sterilize the entire area where they ate with germicidal cleaner.
Stay Home if You Are Sick
Perhaps the best way to prevent the spread is to self-quarantine. Even if you have a slight cold or fever, stay home. We all realize how hard it is financially to miss a shift and it’s tempting to go in anyway when you have bills to pay. But during these times it is important to take every pre-caution and protect yourself. Remember, staying home could save you from getting even more sick and missing more shifts.
Your manager should be more accommodating to staying home during the corona virus outbreak. Plus, there’s a flip side to this as well (read the next tip!)
Encourage Co-workers to Stay Home and Be Flexible About Picking up Their Shifts
Remain flexible and be willing to pick up someone’s shift if you are feeling well. When you see sick co-workers encourage them to stay home and at the same time remind them you are willing to pick up their shifts. They should be more than willing to return the favor when and if you have to stay home. The only way to prevent the spread is if we all work together and use common sense.
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