Hospitality – 6 ways you can bounce back safely

21 June 2021

As lockdown restrictions begin to ease in line with the government roadmap hospitality businesses are welcoming back customers and hoping for a profitable summer season. We look at six risk considerations to ensure you bounce back safely and how the hospitality team at Verlingue can help.

1. Covid-19 risk assessments

Carry out a risk assessment and if necessary, use a specialist. This will cover a range of items from hand washing to social distancing and capacity numbers to alterations to the premises. These need to be considered in context with pre-Covid hazards such as the impact on the public - for example slips and trips. The guidelines are freely available online and good places to start are The Food Standards Agency and the Government page for restaurants, pubs and bars.

You can also seek advice from our client and partner, Mercury Support, which has dedicated risk support for the hospitality industry.

“Failure to carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment and put in place sufficient control measures to manage the risk may be considered a breach of health and safety law.”

Government guidance for restaurants, pubs and bars

2. It’s lovely out

Pubs and restaurants have reopened to a new way of doing business. Social distancing means more space is required to maximise capacity whilst complying with the Covid-19 restrictions. This can mean accessing new areas. If these have never been used or are in a poor state of repair, it could increase the risk of injury to customers and employees. Be sure that:

  • The ground is safe, suitable and fit-for-purpose
  • All necessary repairs have been made
  • There is safe access for customers and staff and appropriate lighting
  • A risk assessment has been carried out

3. Pushing the boundaries

There could also be extensions onto areas beyond the perimeter of the business - such as pavements. It is important to assess the risks to staff and the public as well as other compliance and insurance requirements.

You may need to seek permission from the local authority, and they may require that you increase your Public Liability insurance.  We are seeing councils require a Public Liability limit of Indemnity of £5M and in some cases £10M. It is wise to notify your insurer, regardless. If you are unsure, get in touch with our team for advice.

4. Not so temporary structures

The rules have changed to allow temporary structures for the summer without planning permission - even for listed buildings. This has led to an increase in gazebos and marquees with roofs allowed as long as at least 50% of walls are open at all times. Businesses are also investing in outdoor furniture, heating, decking and outside bars. You should:

  • Ensure any structure is installed by a professional and securely fastened
  • Conduct regular checks and maintenance  
  • Put clear and appropriate signage in place – any guide ropes and poles should be clearly marked and visible to reduce trip hazards

It is important to include these structures and furniture in the overall risk assessment. Also, how long they will be in place - just be for the summer or will customers expect them to remain?

Finally, you should check that the correct insurance requirements are in place. You may need extensions for theft, damage, and liability. Again, we can advise.

5. Communication, communication, communication

You have a duty of care to staff, suppliers and the customers. While your public and employer’s liability insurances can protect you in the event of a claim, prevention has to be the starting point.  Ensure you understand the health and safety requirements and have a plan on how to communicate this to stakeholders. Government guidance advises you should share your risk assessment with staff and advertise it on your website for customers.

Providing clear and structured training and awareness for all staff whether they are customer facing or not is crucial. This needs to extend to suppliers, who should understand the rules and protocols when they are on the premises.

Finally, there are your customers. Make sure there is clear signage and reminders as to what is required and expected in terms of maintaining hygiene, sanitising, social distancing, and the wearing of face coverings. Even for regulars the layout of your premises, especially outdoors may have changed.

6. We’re hiring - revisit your benefits package

The race is on to get qualified staff to manage the demand from the public who are keen to take advantage of reopening. However, UK Hospitality has said that there is a shortage of 188,000 staff.  There have also been reports of businesses offering bonuses of £1000 for senior staff to work until the end of the season. This could be a good time to differentiate your business and assess your employee benefits package to remain competitive in the hunt to hire and retain staff. We have a team at Verlingue who can help you, find out more here.

What next?

If you want to find out more about how the Verlingue team can help you with your Hospitality insurance and risk management get in touch with the Hospitality Team here

John O’Hara ACII, Chartered Insurance Broker - Director – Hospitality & Corporate john.ohara@verlingue.co.uk

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