Change is Brewing: Distancing and Screening and Cleaning, Oh My!

Regardless of if your coffee shop has stayed open to weather the storm, recently made it’s grand reopening or you are in the planning and consideration phase of reopening, it is likely that you have some form of a safety plan in place.

Download your reopening checklist here.

Some states are requiring that each business have a written out and formalized copy of their safety plan on site. For coffee shops, this safety plan could be requested during your routine health inspection or site visit for anything reported.

This can be a relatively painless task if we are able to break down the components of a safety plan first. Formatting your formalized copy can be as simple as a prompt/short-answer view. Here are some important features to consider when constructing your plan:

Business information

This is the most basic information about your business. You’ll want to include your legal business name, industry tag, address, owner/operator name, and your main contact’s information (you or whoever is designated to handle the day-to-day operations for your shop).

Social Distancing and Occupancy

Especially because most coffee shops have a more limited square footage, it’s important to put in the time to figure out how many customers and employees you can have in your space at one time while still maintaining the recommended 6-feet of space. Many shops have gone the route of resetting their shop to accommodate curbside order and pick-up. Whatever you decide and determine, you will want to record this information in your safety plan. If you are allowing customers inside, you will also want to detail how you are indicating a safe social distance (floor decals, as an example).

Personal Protective Equipment

There are many types of PPE, and we tend to make our choices based on our comfort level. Whichever type of PPE you decide to go with, you also must decide if you are providing these resources or requiring them of your employees. Face coverings are required by most states, and it can even be required that you provide them to your employees at no cost to them. Here you will want to outline how many you will keep on hand at any given time. You’ll also want to disclose whether you plan to provide for your customers if they are without upon attempting entry.


Keeping an open dialogue with your staff around any potential symptoms is not only a good idea, it should also be planned for. A quick questionnaire before an employee comes to work each day does the trick. You’ll want to prompt them about any COVID-19 related symptoms they may have experienced within the last 14 days, asking if they have tested positive within the last 14 days, and inquiring about any contact with confirmed or suspected cases. You can keep these on file in case you need to refer back for any reason. Some businesses also decide to implement a daily temperature check before entry of their employees. The goal is to keep your space and everyone inside as safe as is possible.


Disinfection of our space has become more important than ever to prevent the spread of the virus. You want to plan for the tools you’ll be using to implement this in your shop. Be clear about what products you’re using, how they should be used, and at what frequency. A good place to start would be to fully sanitize after each shift, with a protocol to sanitize high-traffic areas more frequently.

Logging contact

Keeping a log of all of the people inside of a shared space will really help should any concerns around contraction of the virus arise. For your employees, you likely already practice something that serves as a log (think schedule or time clock). Of course, you can also keep a separate log as well! Another thing to consider is your vendor delivery drivers and service personnel (exterminators, etc.). You’ll want to keep a log of their entry and you may even decide to include them in your screening process as well.

Communication strategy

With all of these components in place, the last piece is to outline your communication of these practices. This looks like printed collateral for display prior to entry, point of sale, and pick up areas. It’s important to remember that none of these new procedures are intuitive at this point, and the more explicit you can be, the better the experience for everyone. Your communication strategy will also cover any internal operational changes as well. You want to make sure to outline how you are creating resources for your staff to refer to at any time.

Keeping in mind that your safety plan may contain a more comprehensive list of protocol that is unique to your coffee shop, these components are a great foundation to get you to where you need to be in having your plan formalized. It is important to check in with your state and regional resources to understand any specific requirements for your city. Thinking and planning ahead help us to prepare for the unexpected; and during these times that can be especially helpful!


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