Dear NMRA Member:
As you are probably aware, the New Mexico Governor declared a Public Health Emergency on Wednesday. The Governor is asking that everyone minimize public exposure and minimize human contact. This declaration could be devastating for the restaurant industry but we are working on your behalf to minimize the impact. Today the NM Health Secretary issued a ban on large public gatherings. So far, restaurants & bars are exempt from this order. We must remain calm and do our part to contain this virus now so it does not continue to spread.
According to the CDC, this virus is not foodborne. State and local food codes establish strict safe food handling requirements for restaurants, and I ask that operators be proactive by stepping up existing cleaning and sanitation procedures.
We put together a list for restaurants to prepare your restaurant and employees for this public emergency. The list will help you with monitoring and responding to absenteeism, continuing your essential business functions, changing your business functions if necessary, encouraging sick employees to stay home, performing routine environmental cleaning and many more considerations for you and your management and employees.
A few practical things you can do immediately besides hand-washing, disinfecting and cleaning, are to start using disposable single-use paper menus, don’t leave condiments on tables and seriously consider delivery. Consider using your employees for delivery rather than food delivery services since they will likely need the work. (We have talked with our Food Industry Self-Insurance Work Comp Fund and they will support food delivery coverage for employers who are members of that fund). If you do not already have customer take-out parking you might make that a priority. Also, consider a Grab-and-Go refrigerator by your cash register with pre-prepared meals for your customers to warm up when they get home. Anything to minimize human contact will be helpful in the upcoming weeks.
Don’t forget to communicate with your customers via email and social media. You might let them know of your enhanced cleaning and disinfecting protocols, your take-out options and your concern for their well-being.
The NMRA met Wednesday with the Department of Workforce Solutions Secretary, Bill McCamley, about emergency measures the state is taking on behalf of our employees. At this point, the state is going to offer enhanced unemployment benefits. We don’t have a list of those benefits in hand but keep your eye out on our web page and alerts. We will get this information to you as soon as it is published.
We have developed a CoronaVirus resource web page with up-to-date information for our members. This page includes links to the NM Health Department, Letters from the City of Albuquerque Environment Department in English, Spanish, Mandarin and Vietnamese, links to the Governors statement of Public Health Emergency, the CDC Guide to Preparing Your Restaurant and Employees and much more.
Our promise during this difficult time is to keep you up-to-date and well informed.
At Your Service,
Carol Wight – CEO NMRA