Restaurants insist on covid19 safety: No mask, no food

GETTING READY: This KFC worker sanitises a motorcyle at the Independence Square, Port of Spain branch on Sunday.   - Ayanna Kinsale
GETTING READY: This KFC worker sanitises a motorcyle at the Independence Square, Port of Spain branch on Sunday. - Ayanna Kinsale

Wear a mask if you wish to drop in to collect a takeaway meal from Monday as restaurants partially resume business after weeks of closure under the covid19 restrictions.

The ease-up was announced by the Prime Minister on Saturday in a televised address to the nation saying the country would be reopened in several phases.

This safety measure against any viral spread was spelt out to Newsday on Sunday by heads of two restaurants, Simon Hardy – CEO of Prestige Holdings, the franchise holder for KFC, Starbucks and Pizza Hut in TT, plus Peter George, owner of Trotters restaurant.

Hardy said all safety measures will be put in place at KFC restaurants, such as social distancing, hand sanitising and protective screens along the counters.

“You must make sure anyone coming into the restaurants is kept as safe as possible.”

While “working like mad” to get restaurants ready after five or six weeks shut, he said some won’t reopen on Monday but later on, namely those at enclosed malls, and at Piarco airport and UWI, both now shut.

“We’ll have a limited menu initially, concentrating on chicken. We expect a temporary surge. Later in the week, we’ll bring more products.”

Hardy said each outlet will allow in only five customers at a time for a takeout meal, and with no dining in. Alternatively, customers can call ahead, place their order and then collect.

He said even before the pandemic, TT had been part of a global surge in demand for meal delivery and there is a greater demand for drivers and motorcyclists. Hardy said as part of an international franchise, KFC in TT already had standards in place ahead of the pandemic.

“We took additional steps, such as hand-washing every half hour, sanitising the most-used surfaces every half-hour and social distancing by way of decals on the floor.

“We will be checking the temperature of staff. All staff must wear masks.”
Asked if customers entering a KFC outlet must wear a mask, he replied yes.

Hardy said outlets normally open at 10 am and under the Government’s latest covid19 rules will now close at 8 pm. A few outlets such as City Gate generally open earlier, but the opening of the Independence Square, Port of Spain branch will depend on the delivery of supplies.

He said staff went to work on Sunday to undertake cleaning and to check equipment and safety standards.

“We are incredibly excited to serve the public on Monday. There is a level of passion for KFC in TT. Thank you for all the love.”

Told of an online video of a customer, already camped in the doorway of a KFC outlet, who vowed to be first in line for service, Hardy giggled and said, “Yes, I’ve seen it. If he’s still there in the morning, we’ll be happy to serve him.”

Peter George of Trotters said his staff will wear masks, which will also be required of customers who enter the restaurant, who must also sanitise their hands. However, he expected people walking in to constitute only one to two per cent of his customers, while the vast majority will do curbside pick-ups.

“For those ones coming in on foot, it will be like a roti shop. It will be a very quick turnaround, not a long and drawn-out experience.

“They will come in, sanitise their hands and pick up their food. We’ll ask them to put on masks and wash their hands.”

However George reiterated 98 per cent of customers will undertake curbside pick-ups or have their food delivered to them. Staff will try to have as little as possible customer interface in the pick-ups or deliveries, he said.

“Some people who get delivery don’t even have to see the driver.”

He expected to get “some traction” with customers on Monday, rather than any explosive opening, although noting people’s pent-up demand for KFC.

“I don’t know what will happen. We are happy making people happy.

“People need some 'sun' in their life, even if it is KFC and doubles. Yes, stay home and be safe (in the lockdown) but life is about having fun.”

George was happy for his sector to restart but also urged that the broader economy get going again soon.


"Restaurants insist on covid19 safety: No mask, no food"

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