Hawaii Restaurant Association drafts guidelines for future reopening of restaurants

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON) — With Governor David Ige announcing that some businesses can reopen under certain circumstances Wednesday, other businesses like restaurants are looking to the future to when they may be able to reopen again.

The Hawaii Restaurant Association has drafted some guidelines for reopening, wanting to provide a framework for restaurants before customers can return.

“Everybody wants to be open, but they understand that we’re going to have to do it in a safe way, and in a way that will help the guests not only feel safe, but feel comfortable,” said Greg Maples, Hawaii Restaurant Association incoming chairman.

Some of the guidelines drafted include using technology for things like cashless payment and updating floor plans to ensure at least a 6-foot distance between tables. Maples said restaurants may even want to install dividers for separation. Another guideline is figuring out a way to keep customers spread out while they wait to be seated.

“[One way] is you have to make a reservation and when you make a reservation, you wait in your car or you wait outside with social distancing, before you’re invited into the restaurant,” said Maples.

Staff will play a big role in this new era of dining out. The Restaurant Association suggests waiters wear masks and other protective gear and limit contact with customers.

“We’re going to get used to having a server, who is used to being very interactive with the table, probably not as interactive,” said Maples.

When you’re seated, tables may also look different. Condiments like ketchup, mustard and shoyu on your table may not be there next time.

“You’re probably going to have to ask for them [and] they’ll bring them. Once you’re done using them, they’ll be sanitized after each use, or you might even see some restaurants do some individual packets,” said Maples.

Maples said cleaning everything from dishes to tables after each use is a must.

“I can foresee after a person leaves a table or booth, a busser comes behind. They’re going to have sanitizer. They’re going to be dressed in appropriate gear, and they’re going to sanitize every part of that table… the chair legs, the table legs, underneath [the table]. I can see all of that being done,” said Maples.

The Hawaii Restaurant Association said it will be taking recommendations on the guidelines until May 1. The association is working to set up a meeting with the Governor and county mayors to go over the guidelines and see if this would be feasible.

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