First things first: “post-pandemic” and “post-COVID-19” are two very different terms. While the pandemic emergency may be over, the COVID-19 virus is going to be a part of everyone’s lives (and business operations) for a long time. In fact, last week, there were still over 15,000 hospital admissions for COVID-19 in the U.S. alone. So just like the flu, norovirus and other illnesses, COVID-19 is still affecting customers and workforces alike.
That being said, there are a number of other things that the pros in foodservice and hospitality are thinking about as they lay in bed at night.
Foodborne illness is back (with a vengeance)
For a few years, restaurateurs were taking extra precautions in an effort to combat COVID, like wearing masks and gloves, and instituting extra cleaning procedures. These same behaviors are also extremely effective in combating foodborne illness transmission, which resulted in a drastic reduction in other common illnesses as well, including norovirus, hepatitis A, influenza, measles, and more. Now that most COVID-19 precautions have been relaxed, these other illnesses are also back in a big way.
Hepatitis A counts are back up to pre-pandemic levels, measles is at its highest incidence ever, and as any parent can confirm, autumn was an endless run of RSV, the flu, stomach bugs, and more.
Two takeaways from this:
- Just because operators can think less about COVID-19 doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be thinking about illness in restaurants or venues.
- Foodborne illnesses (and most illnesses!) can be mitigated by allowing and encouraging sick employees to say home when they’re sick, emphasize hand washing, and focusing on cleaning and sanitizing.
New illnesses are looming
It feels like a pandemic should be a once-in-a-century event, but some experts think there’s as high as a 44% chance of another worldwide pandemic happening in the next 20 years. As an industry, it is wise to, at the very least, formulate plans for what to do if it were to happen next week. It is easy to forget that the world has already experienced SARS, MERS, avian flu, Zika and Ebola on the world stage—and that’s only in the last decade.
Take stock of how business operates now, make sure there’s a plan for any number of critical events that could occur, and schedule meetings to discuss the lessons learned from recent incidents. Planning for a health crisis is just as critical as planning for a natural disaster or climate change event; the commonality is the dramatic impact each of these can have on a business.
The takeaway: Another major event will happen, it’s only a matter of when. Take the time to figure out what resources to pull together and what outside expertise might be needed before crises occur; proactive prevention is the name of the game.
Make sure the right resources are in place
As much as everyone would like to operate their businesses with specialists for every little thing, the reality is that team members are forced to wear many hats. Executives know this better than anybody: one minute they’re the director of marketing, the next minute they’re taking care of HR tasks and right after that, they are engrossed in the financials.
Whether operators are worried about foodborne illness in the workplace, overall employee and customer health or pandemic planning, they may not have someone who is truly an expert in this field. That’s where Zero Hour Health steps in.
Zero Hour Health has over 30 years of industry experience helping companies protect their employees, their customers, and their brands. From local restaurant groups to the largest national concepts, the Zero Hour Health team is the go-to expert in foodservice and hospitality health. From Bloomin’ Brands and Texas Roadhouse, to Chipotle and Chick-Fil-A, Zero Hour Health is their resource of choice. Schedule some time to chat with the ZHH team at www.ZeroHourHealth.com.
This post is sponsored by Zero Hour Health