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Coronavirus (COVID-19): updates and advice.

Food businesses - coronavirus guidance

On Monday 4 January 2021 the government announced new COVID-19 controls to apply across England from Tuesday 5 January. The legislation is expected to come into force formally on Wednesday 6 January.

The latest lockdown guidance sets out what has to close and what can remain open.

On this page:

Deliveries and takeaways

  • Hospitality settings, such as bars, pubs, cafes, restaurants, and social clubs must close except for takeaway, delivery and click and collect services. There are some specific exemptions to this

  • Food or alcohol purchased from a hospitality premises via takeaway or click-and-collect may not be consumed on any part of that premises, including beer gardens, as well as adjacent seating to the premises

  • Accommodation such as hotels, B&Bs, campsites, holiday lets and guest houses must close apart from some specified exemptions

Food safety

Current scientific advice is that it is very unlikely that COVID-19 can be spread through food, however, if you are changing how you usually operate then you should think through the hazards and ensure that you have control measures in place.

You should:

  • register as a food businesses if you're not already registered

  • set up cashless payments to avoid cash/change payment at the site of takeaway or delivery (BACS, telephone card payment)

  • include an allergen prompt on any advertising or menus to encourage anyone with an allergy or dietary requirement to ask about this in advance

  • follow the allergy information in Safer Food Better Business (SFBB) and decide whether any particular allergy requirement can be catered for or not

  • assess whether a takeaway or delivery service can be safely provided alongside an in-house food service

  • update the Safer Food Better Business pack to reflect the takeaway or delivery service and how it will be offered safely

  • designate a low risk area for handover of the food - this should be well away from the kitchen area and at a distance from as many staff as possible and should be regularly sanitised throughout the day. Staff should wash their hands after each handover

  • ensure staff handing over the food place the food down and keep a sensible distance from the customer/delivery driver

  • offer food that is cooked and ready to consume immediately if possible - its best to avoid letting the customer cool food to be eaten later

  • decide whether you are also going to cook, cool and send food out cold to be eaten later. If so:

    • the cooling of food safe methods must be followed in Safer Food Better Business
    • the advice to the customer should be to fully re-heat, where appropriate (above 75oC)/until piping hot and to consume the same day

Cooking and packing

We recommend that:

  • you record the core temperature of your cooked high risk food in your Safer Food Better Business diary daily

  • food should not be cooked too far in advance of service and adequate provision needs to be made for it to be hot held until sent out for delivery at 63oC or above

  • food should be packaged in a disposable, lidded container - this should not be returned by the customer for re-use

  • you carry out periodic checks to ensure the food is arriving adequately hot or cold and record this in the Safer Food Diary

  • you provide an adequate number of insulated boxes for delivery to ensure the food arrives to the customer at 63oC or above - the distance and number of deliveries needing to be made will form part of this consideration and it is recommended to keep distances fairly short and times limited to within 30 minutes

  • the insulated box is made of a wipeable material i.e. plastic or similar, rather than cloth/fabric based as this will not be easy to sanitise on a regular basis

  • the insulated box should be sanitised (both internally and externally) at the start of the day before used for carrying food and after deliveries, and also regularly throughout the day

  • you have a separate insulated box for any cold food deliveries i.e. food to be re-heated later in the day or cold puddings. These should be supplied with an adequate number of ice packs to ensure cold food arrives at 8oC or colder - the ice packs should be sanitised as per the insulated box.

Making deliveries

Customers

  • you must ensure you have a system in place to enable the customer to notify you of any self-isolation/illness in advance of delivering

  • consideration needs to be given where a customer does not answer the door as to whether the food will be left or returned - setting up an approximate time of delivery and contact details such as a telephone number should help minimise this issue

Contactless delivery

  • it is better if there is no physical handing over of the food from the driver to the customer

  • there should be a set drop off point established in advance such as the door step

  • the doorbell or door can then be rung/knocked and the driver to distance themselves 6 feet (2 metres) as per Public Health guidance - this is especially important where a customer is either in self-isolation or ill

  • drivers should not enter the customer’s property in any circumstance

Drivers

  • the delivery driver should be given a basic induction on handling the food correctly and health monitoring should be in place

  • need to be checked daily to ensure they aren’t showing any coronavirus symptoms (fever, persistent cough etc.). If they are, they must be sent home immediately - see the self-isolation guidance. The usual 48 hour exclusion applies for (non-coronavirus related) sickness and diarrhoea.

  • where possible, drivers should avoid coming into the main kitchen area and avoid excessive kitchen staff contact. Kitchen staff should ‘box up’ the food and place in a low risk area of the kitchen ready for the driver to pick up and deliver

  • the driver should wash their hands with soap and water both on arrival and returning to the kitchen

  • drivers should be provided with alcohol hand sanitiser at 60%+ alcohol content, as suggested by Public Health England, for use between deliveries

Vehicles

  • check that the car insurance of the delivery driver covers business use and that the vehicle is safe (copy of most recent MOT, or similar)

  • the vehicle should be clean and tidy

  • there should be no smoking in the vehicle

Alcohol sales and late night refreshments

Businesses and venues selling alcohol for consumption off the premises can continue to do so as long as this is through takeaway, delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-through

Food or alcohol purchased from a hospitality premises via takeaway or click-and-collect may not be consumed on any part of that premises, including beer gardens, as well as adjacent seating to the premises.

Businesses must not provide shared smoking equipment for use on the premises.

Hot food and drink delivered between 11pm and 5am requires a Late Night Refreshment Licence

Alcohol can be sold via the outside collection service or the delivery service if you have an off sales licence for alcohol. You must ensure you have age verification procedures in place for deliveries that include alcohol. 

Enforcement

The government has issued new enforcement powers to enable local authorities, supported by the police, to take action to deal with non-compliance with directions to close. Other powers may become available to deal with other unacceptable trading practices. Licensed premises who are found to be operating illegally may also be subject to review of their licence. 

Further guidance

This advice should be used in conjunction with, and to supplement the business’s own food policy (Safer Food Better Business, or equivalent) and Public Health England guidance on coronavirus.

The following guidance is also available:

Local outbreak management plan

Information about how affected businesses should respond to a COVID-19 case or outbreak can be found in the local outbreak management plan.

Contact us

Get in touch if you'd like further guidance on these new requirements.

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