Living with a Pandemic: Infection Prevention in Hospitality

In the wake of extended restrictions for the hospitality industry (directives which are likely to be in place for 6 – 12 months), it is important for venues to think strategically about the path forward – particularly with festive season fast approaching.

Prevention is better than cure – closing your venue for a period caused by a Covid-19 outbreak will be detrimental to your bottom line – both in the immediate and in customer confidence. So what are the key points venues should be considering? How much preparedness is enough? Dynamic RM is pleased to offer our clients and friends a new preferred partnership to help navigate this terrain: Tacit Health Solutions

Interview with Tacit Founder and Director – Marisa Alexis

Marisa Alexis, Director of Tacit Health Solutions is an infection prevention specialist with over 12 years’ experience in the field. She holds qualifications in Nursing, a Bachelor’s degree in Public Health, a Master’s degree in Disease, Prevention and Control and is currently working on a Professional Doctorate in Health Science. Her portfolio includes leading infection prevention service improvement in healthcare settings and supporting commercial businesses to achieve and maintain Covid-19 compliance.

What has been your experience to date of restaurants and bars dealing with this pandemic?

For an industry that relies on people gathering, Covid-19 has created a formidable challenge. There is a perception that implementing the minimum safety measures such as distancing and hand hygiene is sufficient. Attention is not generally given to the wider factors that may contribute to the spread of infection. The lack of awareness is understandable, as this level of infection prevention has not been required in the hospitality industry prior to the pandemic.

What is the biggest myth you currently see?

I have two major concerns: –

– The first being that good food hygiene standards equates to effective Covid-19 compliance. The requirements of the Food Standards rating protects customers from gastrointestinal infections, these bear a significant difference to Covid-19. Although both types of organisms are spread by contact, only the Coronavirus has potential for airborne spread. This means that different control measures are required.

– Secondly, the notion of one size fits all. There are companies offering generic Covid-19 compliance assessment schemes which do not address individual issues that may contribute to cross infection. Furthermore, prevention measures introduced in one restaurant may not be appropriate for another. There are many factors to consider such as ventilation that will only be highlighted from a general infection prevention risk assessment.

What are the key elements they should be considering both for their own health and wellbeing and also that of their customers?

Venues must take a holistic approach to infection prevention. There should be two areas of focus; customer wellbeing and staff wellbeing. Interventions must be developed under these two overarching themes. Customers must be protected from staff and staff must be protected from customers. Staff must also be protected from each other and clear pathways must be established for managing vulnerable and high-risk staff.

There are several elements to consider, two foremost are cleaning and PPE. To optimise cleaning, thought must be given not only to frequency and technique, but also to the products. The chemical composition must meet government standards. There are companies currently offering substandard products, so venues must be aware.

While on the topic of meeting appropriate standards, PPE must also be checked to ensure that they pass. Poor quality PPE increases the risk of cross infection. In addition, PPE etiquette is crucial in preventing spread. Risk assessments must be carried out determine where, when and how PPE should be used.

How can venues build customer confidence?

The current infection rates and government restrictions will make it difficult for venues to achieve this. I am no marketing expert, but I believe the approach must be one that reiterates safety throughout the customer’s user journey. Marketing strategies must be consistent with accurate information conveying that robust measures have been introduced for the benefit of customers and staff.

Government guidance is changing so quickly – what do you recommend venues should focus on?

It is important to understand that government guidance is generic. It does not anticipate the dynamic differences between venues such as layout, equipment or facilities. These are only some of the factors that play an instrumental role in how infections are spread. The fundamental principles of infection prevention and control are universal and apply to both healthcare and commercial business alike. They should be implemented and adapted in line with evolving national guidance. Venues must ensure the prevention measures they introduce are based on an individual risk assessment that offers bespoke interventions. This provides them with the best chance of avoiding an outbreak.

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Tacit Health Solutions is a team of qualified Infection Prevention and Public Health Specialists who are highly experienced, with a proven track record in providing Infection Prevention solutions. The team provide businesses with the tools to return to work safely by navigating the barriers created by this global pandemic and other infectious diseases.

The team of strategists are experienced in managing Covid-19 across a variety of settings including industries such as healthcare, entertainment, hospitality, beauty, on super yachts, schools and in places of worship. Their most recent achievements include successfully leading the Infection Prevention strategies for hotels used specifically to host Covid-19 patients and supporting major film productions with their return to work plans.

Tacit Health Solutions offer a seamless service from the prevention to the management of infectious diseases in the workplace. The team holds a unique and professional skillset that can be adapted to maximise your business’ chance of success.

For more information visit www.tacithealth.co.uk