Reopening Hotels Part 4: Restaurants & Bars

Hotels are scheduled to reopen on Monday 29thJune in Ireland. In part five of our ‘Reopening Hotels’ series we examine what measures need to be considered for Weddings.

Management should aim to meet, or exceed, HSE guidelines throughout all food & beverage areas including restaurants, bars, lounges, etc. To achieve this, the following steps should be taken:

Where possible, guests should be able to enter and exit through separate doors. These should be propped open if fire regulations allow.

  • Hand sanitisers (in touchless dispensers where possible) should be readily available at each access points. Signage should encourage all guests to use this when they enter and leave.
  • Prominent signage should explain current physical distancing practices. This should be accompanied by clear and visible markings that illustrates safe distancing protocol throughout food and beverage areas. This includes elevators, entrance to bar and lounge areas, at entrances to toilets, function rooms, smoking areas, etc.
  • New SOPs that comply with HSE best-practice should guide employees in how to ‘Meet, Greet and Seat’. For example, a friendly verbal greeting should replace physical greeting.


Cleaning & Sanitising Protocol

The frequency of cleaning and sanitising for the following key areas and items should be increased in accordance with HSE guidelines:

  • Entry / exit doors
  • Greeting podiums
  • Service stations
  • Countertops and bar tops
  • Handrails
  • Smoking areas
  • Exterior seating / benches
  • Exterior of refuse bins
  • Toilets, etc.

After each use, the following items must be cleaned and sanitised:

  • Dining tables, stools, chairs and seating
  • Trays
  • Bill / tip trays, pens and any other reusable items that customers come into contact with.

Physical Distancing Protocol

  • Management is responsible for minimising the number of arrival and departure points both for guests arriving and departing. Managers and supervisors should always monitor and manage physical distancing between people and groups rather than simply rely on signage.
  • Peak-period queuing procedures to be implemented if guests can’t be seated immediately. If queuing isn’t possible, a table reservation system should be considered.
  • The amount of seating and stools should be reduced and guests should order from their seat wherever possible to reduce queues.
  • Physical distancing of 2 metres does not apply within members of a household unit. Physical distancing is required between tables / seats and individuals of non-household units.

Self-Service Carvery or Buffet

  • Avoid this style of service, where possible. Where it is required, maintain physical distancing by staggering service and placing 2 metre markings on floor to highlight distance if queuing is unavoidable.
  • All foods in the bain-marie or hotplate must be shielded from customers. Employees should plate up and serve food.
  • All trays used by customers must be sanitised between each use. ■ All goods / foods, visual displays, etc must be covered and only handled by appointed employees.
  • Where food is served buffet-style, all items displayed for customer use must be individually wrapped or be a single serve item. Common tongs or ladles should not be used and neither should common distribution containers from which customers help themselves.

Table Service

  • Front of House (FOH) personnel allocated to serve individual tables for service should adhere to physical distancing where possible.
  • Self-serve condiments and utensils (e.g. salt and pepper shakers, sugar bowls, milk jugs) should be removed from tables/bar counters and individual sachets of condiments be offered.
  • Open bar snacks or ‘finger food’ will be served to individual customer and not shared by a table.
  • There should be minimal handling of glassware when serving drinks or clearing glasses. FOH personnel should handle glasses by the stem or base. When providing table service, FOH personnel must serve from a clean / sanitised service tray.
  • Napkin service should be suspended. This means no placing of napkins a customer’s lap or refolding a napkin.
  • Tableside cooking should be suspended.
  • Before serving a table and after clearing a table, FOH personnel must wash their hands (for 20 seconds) or use sanitiser if a sink isn’t available.

Order Taking

  • Menus should be laminated and sanitised / disinfected after each use. Menu boards are an alternative but they should be sanitised / disinfected regularly.
  • It may be possible to verbally recommend food and drinks to customers. If so, this should be done.
  • All sharing dishes / platters should be served as individual plates.
  • Appropriate physical distancing should be followed when taking orders.
  • It’s recommended to use individual pens, pads, or electronic devices.


Employees must maintain the recommended 2 metre physical distance from each other behind the bar. To help achieve this:

  • limit the number of employees behind the bar at one time
  • keep record of who is on duty and when.

Divide the bar into areas / zones (where possible) and allocate a zone to each employee allocated per area / zone to safeguard against cross over. Minimise movement between these area.

  • All employees should wash their hands, or use sanitiser when a sink is not available, regularly for 20 seconds. The following should also be cleaned and sanitised more frequently:
  • Beer taps, handles and optics
  • Drip trays and washable bar mats
  • Glass mats
  • Handheld measures
  • Cocktail equipment
  • Ice buckets, scoops and tongs
  • Fruit preparation equipment
  • Storage containers, etc.
  • Straws must be individually wrapped. Embellishment or decoration of glasses (e.g. cocktail umbrellas) should be minimised.
  • Where fruit garnishes are required, good hand hygiene practices must be in place while preparing the fruit – follow HACCP guidelines. Keep garnishes refrigerated and in a covered container until required and serve using tongs / scoop.
  • The scoop to have its own covered receptacle.
  • In advance of reopening the cleaning of beer lines should be arranged as a notice period may be required by breweries or suppliers.
  • Water jugs and milk jugs will no longer be available for shared use; instead they should be poured by employees only.


  • Glassware must be cleaned and sanitised more frequently. To prevent cross contamination, fresh glasses should be used for each new drink, particularly from optics and beer taps.
  • When pouring drinks, employees should handle glasses by the stem or base and place on clean service trays or bar counter before serving.
  • Similarly, there should be minimal handling of glassware when clearing glasses. Here, service trays must be used where appropriate.

Service Stations

  • Service stations must also be cleaned and sanitised more frequently. These include countertops, shelving, equipment, storage containers, etc.
  • At service stations, FOH personnel must be encouraged to maintain the recommended 2 metre physical distance from each other. Limit the number of FOH personnel at service stations at any one time. Minimise movement between service stations and ensure customers don’t have access to these areas.
  • Ensure service stations are stocked with all necessary equipment (e.g. cutlery, condiments, etc.) and cleaning and sanitising supplies (disinfectant, disposable paper towels, etc).
  • Cutlery should be stored in sterilised cutlery drawer covered in cling film or similar until required.
  • All FOH personnel should have their own stationery items and equipment (e.g. pens, order book). If equipment and tools are shared, they must be sanitised / disinfected before, during and after each use or before being given to another employee.

Ice Machines

Before your Hotel or Guesthouse re-opens, ice machines should be emptied, recalibrated and refreshed with new ice. To avoid cross-contamination, each ice scoop should be stored in a separate covered receptacle and washed and sanitised regularly.

Payment Facilities

Where possible, guests should use card / contactless payment. After bringing the debit / credit card machine to the table (if possible), it should to be sanitised / disinfected before being used again.

If handling cash, employees should wear gloves and follow HSE hand hygiene measures.

How can First Choice Purchasing can help?

We can provide your hotel with a secure and consistent supply of items needed to help your hotel open in a compliant and safe manner. Our supply chains are fully operational and our COVID19 response team are on call to help you. As well as our full range of goods and services we have introduced a complete range of COVID19 items:

  • Hand Sanitisers
  • A full range of HSE compliant cleaning products
  • Decontamination service
  • Floor markers & way finding
  • A comprehensive range of PPE
  • A full range of COVID19 supplies
  • Condiment sachets
  • Food and beverages

To arrange a consultation with a member of our COVID19 response team, visit our contact page.