Opening of tourism sector in Irelands post Covid-19

COVID-19 is an unprecedented challenge for the tourism sector. Before re-opening, businesses will need to review how they work and employ new practices and procedures to ensure everyone stays safe. As a result, Fáilte Ireland, in consultation with Sectoral Bodies, has developed operational guidelines in line with the Health Service 

Executive (HSE), Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) and the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI)As part of this, Fáilte Ireland has created this set of specific guidelines in consultation with the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF), to help you re-open your hotel or guesthouse. Here are just some of them.

You can be reassured that these recommendations are underpinned by advice made available from the HSA, HSE, HPSC, FSAI, World Health Organisation (WHO) and other relevant bodies. Businesses must follow the Return to Work Safely Protocol.  Non-compliance can result in the closure of a business.

Considerations: Restructuring operations Tourism businesses of all types need to adapt their operations, review employee practices and consider the design of their business to provide a safe environment for guests and employees and ensure physical distancing and the prevention of the spread of COVID-19.

Putting dedicated resources in place Tourism businesses must ensure that they have dedicated personnel to implement and operate a robust system that prevents the spread of COVID-19. Equally importantly, businesses need to put processes in place that can deal with individual and multiple cases of the disease that may occur.

■ Adapting and enhancing hygiene practices, Tourism businesses must adapt and implement enhanced procedures in HACCP**, general cleaning, storage and cleaning of equipment. In particular, they must introduce and implement touchless or contactless solutions where possible. References to HACCP in this guidance is for the purposes of food safety and the prevention of COVID-19.

■ Focusing on best practice in food and beverage service Tourism businesses must follow best practice in service and physical distancing to promote the health of employees and guests.

■ Food service businesses as ‘controlled’ environments Public and private venues or workplaces are considered controlled environments. This includes food and consumption businesses such as hotel restaurants and cafés and hotel bars that serve a substantial meal. Uncontrolled environments are settings where people have open access to the premises and generally don’t know each other and are unlikely to be in close contact with each other for an extended period of time. Examples include supermarkets, retail stores, shopping malls and takeaway-only food outlets.Additional details on controlled and uncontrolled environments can be found in Appendix 1.

■ Food safety and COVID-19 safety, there are no reports of transmission of COVID-19 via food. The main mode of transmission is from person to person. Food business operators must continue to apply their food safety management systems, based on the principles of HACCP. In addition, food business operators will be required to introduce a COVID-19 safety management system which will include enhanced hygiene, cleaning and disinfection, staff training and health checks, as well as physical distancing. This is to protect against the transmission of the virus to or between staff, customers and other people who enter their premises. 

■ The physical distancing measures outlined in these guidelines are based on the HPSC COVID-19: Guidance for Food Service Businesses. Physical distancing of 2 metres* should be maintained. However if this is not possible, this can be reduced to 1 metre* in controlled environments if the risk mitigation requirements outlined in Appendix 1 have been met.

You must also:

■ Complete a risk assessment to identify what operational changes you need to make in your business

■ Review of all standard operating procedures (SOPs) to define and note what you are changing.

■ Create a communication plan to inform employees and visitors of what you are changing, what you need them to do and how you expect everyone to act and behave.

■ The HSA provides templates, checklists and advice on return to work safely protocols.

■ A number of activities will require review e.g. workflows, operations, etc. For advice on re-opening, visit the FSAI website. 

Ref: Failte Ireland Guidelines  Published  June 2020

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