Cafe and Restaurant Reopening Checklists

Prepare your business to deal with reopening and evolving guidelines with COVID-19 precautionary measures

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Published September 7th, 2020

Temporary Closure of Cafes and Restaurants

Many businesses across industries suffered from the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, and the hospitality industry is not exempt from its effects. Cafe and restaurant businesses have to restrict people dining in and transition to take-out and delivery options. Some have responded to this demand, but others have had to close up temporarily. This temporary closure has side effects on different aspects of the businesses, including food safety, hygiene, housekeeping, and maintenance.

Cafe and restaurant businesses planning to reopen may encounter issues depending on their location, PPE availability, people management, and implementation of new precautionary measures. Business owners have the responsibility to plan ahead and manage health and safety risks as they resume their business operations, especially as government restrictions and guidelines evolve. 

This article features:

  • cafe and restaurant reopening tips;
  • key areas of cafe and restaurant reopening;
  • technology to help streamline reopening operating processes; and
  • free ready-to-use cafe and restaurant reopening checklists.

Cafe and Restaurant Reopening Tips

Cafes and restaurants have begun reopening their doors to the public when it is safe to do so. This doesn’t guarantee, however, that the ongoing risks of the pandemic have materially changed, so it is paramount for businesses to ensure safety before commencing business reopening. Restrictions or policies change depending on the progressive number of COVID-19 positive cases. The following tips can help in planning a business reopening:


  • Revise employee policies and require employees to wear face masks and shields at all times.
  • As part of the new routine, employees should practice frequent hand washing and strictly comply with hygienic practices.

Payment Policy

  • Encourage customers to use cashless transactions.
  • Use QR codes and other contactless payment systems to avoid physical contact.

Cafe and Restaurant Design

  • Maximize the use of kiosks and come up with ways to order that avoid physical contact as much as possible.
  • Space out tables and install dividers to practice physical distancing.
  • Cap the number of customers who can dine for a period of time.
  • Transform indoor spaces into smaller areas.
  • Invest in outdoor seating as it is safer than contained spaces.


  • Assign personnel to check customer and employees’ temperature before entering business premises.
  • Use full-body disinfecting systems before entering the premises.
  • Create customer logs and have customers register with their names and addresses for possible contact tracing.

4 Key Areas to Inspect Prior to Cafe and Restaurant Reopening

It is crucial for business owners to ensure the safety of their premises prior to reopening their business. Conducting inspections is necessary to secure a healthy environment for their customers and employees. The following key areas should be inspected prior to cafe or restaurant reopening:

Dining Hall

This is the most crowded area in a restaurant or cafe because this is where customers gather to enjoy their food. It is important to disinfect this area and redesign it according to physical and social distancing guidelines.


The kitchen is the center of food preparation and other services. It is critical to keep it hygienic to avoid food contamination and foodborne illnesses. Sanitize all kitchen tools and ensure all staff adheres to hygiene and safety procedures.


During the temporary closure, there may have been perishable goods left in the stockroom that have gone beyond their shelf life. Check your inventory and look at the expiry dates of all stock items and dispose of them if necessary. Check for pest infestation and ensure all stocks are in good condition.

HVAC Systems

This is often overlooked when reopening a business, but it is important to address the issue of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems. Check the ventilation systems and observe if there is airtightness within the property. This can lead to customer suffocation or even fatalities. Also, check the water systems for the visibility of Legionella bacteria.

Technology to Help Streamline Reopening Operations

In order to protect the health of the general public, as well as thrive from a business perspective, compliance with organizational and regulatory standards is vital to the reopening and operation of cafes and restaurants. Using iAuditor by SafetyCulture, cafes and restaurants can take advantage of an easy-to-use, mobile-ready app to streamline not only restaurant reopening inspections but the entire safety and quality initiative.

To get you started we have collected cafe and restaurant reopening checklists designed to help businesses get back on track after closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic and manage evolving government guidelines simply.


Please note that this screening checklist is a hypothetical example and provides basic information only. It is not intended to take the place of medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should also seek your own professional advice to determine if the use of such a checklist is permissible in your workplace or jurisdiction.


Jona Tarlengco

SafetyCulture staff writer

Jona has been part of SafetyCulture for more than 2 years contributing her experience in writing quality and well-researched content. She usually writes a topic about risks, safety, and quality.