As spring brings warmer temperatures, outdoor dining is likely to be in greater demand once again while we wait for indoor dining rooms to open to greater capacity. Take steps now to make sure your outdoor space not only adheres to COVID-19 precautions, but also minimizes the risk of injury to employees and guests. Look for potential hazards that could cause slips, trips and falls, including stray cords, obstructed entrances and poorly lit walkways. If inclement weather is in the forecast or you have experienced snowy or icy conditions this winter, consider how your preparations will need to change – whether that means securing awnings and stakes or checking the soundness of your outdoor structures. Many operators will continue to rely on outdoor heating systems as well, so make sure flame guards are in place over open flames and that you minimize carbon monoxide by keeping your dining area adequately ventilated.
As operators weather what is likely going to be a difficult winter, many of those fortunate enough to have outdoor spaces have taken steps to outfit them with heated pods, screens and other partitions aimed at containing the spread of the virus while also allowing the safe (and more comfortable) serving of guests as the temperature drops. But according to medical experts, these spaces can be as risky as indoor settings if operators don’t take sufficient precautions. To minimize the spread of infection in the next couple of months, be sure to air out individual dining pods between guests, or in case you have a partially enclosed space for dining outdoors, ensure that air is able to circulate throughout it. Outdoor space heaters and fireplaces can help beat the chill without posing additional safety risks, and you can also encourage guests to bring their own blankets to keep warm during their meal.