Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Updates on council services, health advice, and support available for residents and businesses.

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COVID-19 food hygiene guidance and information for takeaway services

Re-opening your business

A number of guidance documents and webpages have been created by the Government to help businesses operate safety in relation to COVID-19. To access this guidance and check if your business is able to operate, visit the GOV.UK website. If you have a query about the local implementation of guidance in relation to a business in Swindon, contact foodhealth&safety@swindon.gov.uk

The government has relaxed the planning rules in order to help pubs and restaurants operate as hot food takeaways during the COVID-19 pandemic. This measure is one of the practical steps the Government is taking to support businesses and help people who need to self-isolate. It also supports vulnerable groups and older people who have been strongly advised to avoid social contact outside their homes. Find full details of the proposal on the GOV.UK website.

We understand that businesses may look to change their business model and diversify their food business during this time. The following advice is intended to provide additional guidance for those businesses providing takeaways and delivering meals into the community. It should be used in conjunction with, and to supplement the business’s own food policy (Safer Food Better Business, or equivalent), and Public Health England guidance on Coronavirus on the GOV.UK website

Planning permission change

Currently, planning permission is required for businesses to carry out a change of use to a hot food takeaway as follows:

  • The government will introduce a time limited permitted development through secondary legislation to allow the temporary change of use of a pub (A4 - drinking establishment) and a restaurant (A3 – restaurants and cafes) to a hot-food take away for a period of up to 12 months only
  • Tenants must check their permitted user clauses in their lease. The pragmatic approach from landlords would be to consent to any temporary changes of use.
  • Businesses will be required to tell the local planning authority when the new use begins and later, when it ends. To do this e-mail to: DManagement@swindon.gov.uk with title ‘Change of Use of pub/restaurant/cafe to takeaway’. In your email please include the name of your premises and its location and when the use as a takeaway is due to commence. You may receive a standard acknowledgment, but no further action will be required by you until you notify us later via the same method of when you intend to end the use.

Licencing

The measures mentioned above only relate to takeaways of hot food and non-alcoholic drinks. Serving of alcoholic drinks will continue to be subject to existing licensing laws.

Operators are reminded however that the sale of hot food and hot drink between 11.00pm and 5.00am will still require authorisation for late night refreshment under licensing law.

Premises licence holders should check their licence conditions and ensure that they are permitted to make ‘off sales’ of alcohol before offering takeaways or deliveries of alcohol.

If your current licence does not permit these required activities(s) you can apply for:

  • temporary Events Notices which are subject to time limits
  • full variation application of the existing licence

The relevant guidance and forms are available on the Licensing Act 2003 webpage.

Food delivery and takeaway hygiene advice

A business will only be in a position do this if they are registered as a food business, have been inspected for food safety and hold a food hygiene rating.

Current scientific advice is that it is very unlikely that COVID-19 can be spread through food however, if you are changing how you usually operate then you should think through the hazards and ensure that you have control measures in place.

These include the following:

  • Cashless payments should be set up to avoid cash/change payment at the site of delivery – BACS, telephone card payment, or similar is suggested
  • Any advertising menu should include an allergen prompt to encourage anyone with an allergy or dietary requirement to enquire about this in advance. The allergy information in Safer Food Batter Business (SFBB) should be followed and a decision made whether any particular allergy requirement can be catered for.
  • A general assessment needs to be made as to whether a delivery service can be safely provided alongside an in-house food service
  • The Safer Food Better Business pack should be updated/enhanced to reflect the delivery service and how it will be offered safely
  • It is advised that food is offered cooked and ready to consume immediately, for example, the customer cooling food for consumption later is best avoided
  • Determine if you are also going to cook, cool and send food out cold for consumption at a later time. If so, the cooling of food safe methods must be followed in Safer Food Better Business and the advice to the customer should be to fully re-heat, where appropriate (above 75'C) until piping hot and to consume the same day.

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Food cooking and packing

  • It is suggested that you record the core temperature of your cooked high risk  foodin your SFBB diary daily. Food should not be cooked too far in advance of service and adequate provision needs to be made for it to be hot held until sent out for delivery at 63oC or above.
  • The food should be packaged in a disposable, lidded container. This should not be returned by the customer for re-use.
  • You should provide an adequate number of insulated boxes for delivery to ensure the food arrives to the customer at 63oC or above. The distance and number of deliveries needing to be made will form part of this consideration and it is recommended to keep distances fairly short and time limited to 30 minutes.
  • It is strongly suggested that the insulated box is made of a wipeable material, for example, plastic or similar, rather than cloth/fabric based as this will not be easy to sanitise on a regular basis
  • The insulated box should be sanitised (both internally and externally) at the start of the day, before being used for carrying food and after deliveries, and also regularly throughout the day
  • Consideration will need to be given to a separate insulated box for any cold food deliveries, for example, food to be re-heated later in the day or cold puddings. These should be supplied with an adequate number of ice packs to ensure cold food arrives at 8'C or colder. The ice packs should be sanitised as per the insulated box.
  • You should carry out periodic checks to ensure the food is arriving adequately hot or cold and record this in the Safer Food Diary.

Use of delivery staff and vehicles

  • You should check that the car insurance of the delivery driver covers business use and that the vehicle is safe (copy of most recent MOT, or similar). The vehicle should be generally clean and smoke free.
  • The delivery driver should be given a basic induction on handling the food correctly and health monitoring should be in place. Staff need to be checked daily to ensure they aren’t showing any relevant Coronavirus symptoms (fever, persistent cough). If so, they need to be immediately sent home as per the self-isolation guidance. The usual 48-hour exclusion applies for (non-Coronavirus related) sickness and diarrhoea.
  • The driver, where possible, should avoid coming into the main kitchen area and avoid excessive contact with the kitchen staff. It is suggested that one of the kitchen staff ‘box up’ the food and place in a low risk area of the kitchen ready for the driver to pick up and deliver.
  • The driver should wash their hands with soap and water both on arrival and returning to the kitchen

Food delivery

  • If possible, the driver should be provided with alcohol hand sanitiser at 60% + alcohol content as suggested by Public Health England, for periodic use between the individual deliveries
  • It is preferable if there is no physical handing over of the food from the driver to the customer. There should be a set drop off point established in advance such as the door step. The doorbell or door can then be rung/knocked and the driver to distance themselves 6 feet (2 metres) as per Public Health guidance. This is especially important where a customer is either in self-isolation or ill.
  • You must ensure you have a system in place to enable the customer to notify you of any self-isolation/illness in advance of delivering. Drivers should not enter the customers property in any circumstances.
  • Consideration needs to be given where a customer does not answer the door as to whether the food will be left or returned. Setting up an approximate time of delivery and contact details, such as a telephone number, should help minimise this issue.

Food takeaway

  • If you are planning on providing food which customers can collect from your premises, much of the guidance above still applies. You should encourage non-cash payments, with telephone, BACS or contactless payments being preferable
  • You should also designate a low risk area for hand-over of the food. This should be well away from the kitchen area and at a distance from as many staff as possible. Staff handing over the food should place the food down and keep a sensible distance from the customer. This area should regularly be sanitised throughout the day and staff should wash their hands after each handover.

Further guidance

Further details on how to manage a food business if you sell products online, for takeaway or for delivery can be found on the Food Standards Agency (FSA) website.

There is a wealth of advice for businesses on allergen management that can be found on the  FSA website.

For COVID-19: guidance for employees, employers and businesses, visit COVID-19 for employees and businesses.

Find Government advice for implementing social distancing measures in food businesses on the GOV.UK website.

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