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How Restaurant Owners Can Plan for a Lengthy Pandemic

by Roseann Freitas | Nov 11, 2020 9:23:45 AM

Navigating COVID requirements is challenging, especially for the restaurant industry. Depending on the city, county and state in which they operate, restaurant owners must limit their building's capacity, require the use of face masks, sanitize facilities and follow contact tracing guidelines.

The burden of enforcing those safety measures is placed squarely on the shoulders of the establishment. And the reward for all that work? Consumers irritated by the inconveniences and worried about the privacy of their information.

Safeguard privacy with a plan and training.

Keeping your clients' information private is imperative to maintaining trust. So, what should a restaurant do to protect that data? Put a plan in place, train your staff and safeguard privacy.

The plan should include why, what, how and who:

  • Why are you collecting the information?
  • What data needs to be collected, and how will the information be used?
  • How long will the information be kept?
  • Who has access to the data?

Identify the data collected.

Identify why the data is collected. For example, The City and County of Honolulu requires restaurants to collect names, addresses, and phone numbers of patrons who dine indoors and then dispose of the information after 28 days.

Suppose the restaurant staff contracts coronavirus or a customer tests positive. In those scenarios, the restaurant will turn over information connected only to those dining at the establishment at the same time.

Determine the process of collecting and storing information.

Indicate what happens to the information once it is collected. Your customers' private information needs to be protected from the moment it is received. If you plan to use the information for your database or sell it to a third-party vendor, disclose that policy to the consumer. Make sure your plan has a process for collecting the data and where it is stored. If written on a piece of paper, have the forms under lock and key. For online information, have anti-virus software and updated firewalls. Designate an employee to monitor the security of the data and dispose of it when appropriately allowed.

Spend time training your employees on contact tracing.

An excellent plan only works when executed correctly. Training your staff on collecting and storing customers' information will allow your program to be successful. Regulations for contact tracing vary by region, so verify those expectations with city, county and/or state officials in your area.

As restaurants navigate the new normal, trust needs to be front and center for patrons. Creating that confidence means prioritizing their privacy.

Learn more about how to protect your consumers' personal information during the pandemic.

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