Staggered breaks, less chatter as F&B firms in Singapore take precautions against coronavirus

Outlets aim to keep customers, staff and delivery crew safe as takeaway, delivery orders rise

Eateries and restaurants are making sure that staff and delivery crew have almost no physical interaction, and adhere to government guidelines.
Eateries and restaurants are making sure that staff and delivery crew have almost no physical interaction, and adhere to government guidelines.PHOTO: ST FILE

Food and beverage outlets are taking every precaution - from staggered lunch breaks and frequent hand washing to cutting down on chatter - to keep staff and customers safe from Covid-19.

As the demand for food deliveries continues to rise owing to the coronavirus outbreak and Singapore's safe distancing measures, eateries and restaurants are also making sure that staff and delivery crew have almost no physical interaction, and adhere to government guidelines.

While all restaurant staff must now wear masks, other precautions taken include placing orders at a designated location for delivery riders to pick up, and having different entrances - one for delivery people and another for customers.

Taking the temperatures of all staff daily, as well as regular hand washing and sanitising surfaces, has also become the norm.

At vegetarian restaurant Mother Earth, in Joo Koon, the kitchen has become much quieter.

Manager Christine Tan, 41, said: "We try to really minimise interaction, and on top of that, staff are wearing masks in the hot kitchen, so chatting is also not appealing any more because it's uncomfortable."

Ms Tan adds that she has also made sure the restaurant has sufficient masks for its four kitchen staff.

"I've told them not to stint on masks, and change masks whenever necessary," she said, adding that she has not let any staff go yet.

At cafe and bakery Bread Yard in Fusionopolis, all surfaces in the dining area, now used to organise and pack the cafe's delivery and takeaway orders, are sanitised every two hours. Staff are also reminded to regularly wash their hands.

Bread Yard co-owner Eunice Ting, 35, added: "We used to have communal meal breaks but now we have staggered mealtimes and everyone has to eat alone in separate areas."

Meanwhile, hand sanitisers are provided at restaurant entrances to be used freely by delivery workers, who are also reminded to keep their distance from one another while waiting for delivery orders.


Group marketing manager of Unlisted Collection Lois Lin said the restaurants under the group ensure that delivery crew wait outside each restaurant for their orders.

"We also take their temperatures, make sure everyone keeps a safe distance and keep contact to a minimum," she added.

The group, by restaurateur Loh Lik Peng, has 18 restaurants, including Burnt Ends, Meatsmith and Pollen.

At Bread Yard, delivery workers are also reminded to make contactless deliveries to customers.

Ms Ting said: "They will leave the orders at customers' doorsteps, and even if the customer comes to the door to greet them, they are reminded to keep their distance."

The ban on dining in at food and beverage establishments during the circuit breaker period, which started on April 7, has led to an increase in demand of about 20 per cent to 30 per cent for food delivery services.

With the surge, the Government has put in place stricter measures for these services.

In a joint statement released earlier this month, Enterprise Singapore, the Land Transport Authority and the Singapore Food Agency said food delivery riders who do not adhere to safe distancing guidelines will be blacklisted for 12 months.

During this period, they will not be allowed to take up any delivery jobs. This is on top of the penalties that are already in place for everyone else, including a $300 fine for first-time offenders.

Food and beverage operators that allow delivery workers or customers to cluster together at their outlets can also face a financial penalty or be ordered to suspend operations for failing to comply with safe distancing measures.

"The staff used to hang around the cafe after their shifts to unwind and chat. But now everyone automatically leaves after work, and we make sure to keep our distance from each other too," said Ms Ting.

Guidelines for food delivery services

Companies running food delivery services must comply with the following guidelines provided by Enterprise Singapore and the Land Transport Authority.

• Delivery personnel must wear masks at all times in the course of their work.

• Delivery personnel must minimise contact and interactions with others at all times and not cluster together. They must comply with the 1m safe distancing measure. If a food outlet is overcrowded, they should wait outside the establishment, maintain a safe distance from other delivery personnel or customers, and enter the outlet only when food is ready for collection.

• Eateries are encouraged to opt for contactless pick-up, where food orders are placed at designated locations for pick-up by delivery personnel.

• Customers are encouraged to opt for contactless receiving of food, where food orders are left by delivery personnel at designated locations (for example, at the doorstep) for pick-up by customers.

Delivery businesses must comply with the following sanitation and hygiene measures.

• Employees, including delivery personnel, should go through temperature screenings and health declaration procedures daily before they start work. Those who are unwell cannot work and must go to the doctor.

• Delivery personnel should be equipped with hand sanitisers and be reminded to wash their hands with soap and water regularly.

• Delivery personnel must frequently clean items such as food carriers, food bags and food warmers for food delivery, as well as other forms of carriers and boxes for retail delivery.

• Delivery personnel should not place their personal items in the same box, carrier or insulated container which are used to hold food ordered by customers.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 26, 2020, with the headline 'Staggered breaks, less chatter as F&B firms take precautions'. Subscribe