David Mills, category manager at hygiene and pest control specialist Pelsis Group (www.pelsis.com), explains why demonstrating a commitment to hygiene will be key for independent hospitality operators as they fully re-open.
For independent operators in the licensed trade and hospitality sectors, the past year has been hugely challenging.
Disruption has been a buzzword across the industry, with businesses operating in an environment characterised by uncertainty.
Now, with legal limits on social contact removed and nightclubs able to re-open, businesses across the sector are yet again operating in a new environment.
So how can independents make sure they instil confidence in the public and encourage them to return to their premises at a time when legal restrictions have been lifted but infection levels across the country are high?
A LASTING LEGACY
The sheer gravity of the Covid-19 pandemic means that businesses are operating in a new normal even now legal restrictions on social contacts have been lifted. One of the key aspects of this new normal is that the public are acutely aware of the hygiene of the places they visit.
Hygiene has become a key concern for the public during the course of the pandemic. Independent research conducted by Pelsis Group found that 87 per cent of people across the UK think the hygiene of the places they visit is more important to them now than it was before the pandemic.
While that survey finding is not unexpected, our research also suggests that a focus on hygiene is set to outlast the pandemic.
Only seven per cent of people across the UK say the hygiene of the premises they visit will become less important to them after the pan- demic.This finding suggests that a focus on hygiene is likely to be a longterm trend.
For independent operators, this means that clearly demonstrating a commitment to hygiene is key to giving the public confidence to return to premises in the same numbers as prior to the pandemic.
Conducting a comprehensive risk assessment ahead of re-opening in an environment where legal restrictions have been removed will be cru- cial to ensure customer and employee health and safety.
As part of this, implementing enhanced hygiene protocols, such as the electrostatic fogging of premises, can help operators create hygiene secure environments which minimise the risk of infection spreading.
This approach should be integrated into a comprehensive hygiene regime which mandates the frequent sanitisation of communal surfaces, such as door handles and tables, where the risk of infection spreading from one person to another are high.
These measures will be particularly important for operators at a time when new, more transmissible Covid variants pose a significant risk and infection levels are high.
They will also play an important role in ensuring the hygiene security of their premises later in the year as we move from summer in autumn and winter.
Colder weather will mean larger groups of people are more likely to gather indoors and options for natural ventilation may be more limited, so stringent hygiene protocols will be imperative.
SEEING IS BELIEVING
The visibility of these protocols to both employees and customers is also key to building confidence. Our research showed that two thirds of people would be more likely to visit premises if they could see hygiene protocols being implemented or check the hygiene protocols online before visiting.
As operators seek to build widespread confidence in the hygiene security of their premises, promoting the measures they are taking to keep their premises clean and safe will play a bigger role in attracting customers than ever before.
There is undoubtedly a clamour among the public to be able to return to venues without needing to adhere to social restrictions. However, there is also a real appetite for reassurance that these places are safe.
By making sure they prioritise the hygiene security of their premises, operators can reduce risk and instil confidence in the public.