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Coronavirus (COVID-19) - 3 April 13:11

Find out what you need to know

Coronavirus support for businesses offering food delivery

Updated 2 April 2020

This page aims to support your business if you currently offer food delivery, or are thinking of starting to offer these services. It contains a summary of new rules which apply to all businesses supplying takeaway and food delivery, as well as comprehensive guidance on how to operate these services safely.

Regulation changes

The rules have changed for businesses supplying takeaway or food delivery services. Some planning controls have relaxed, to make it easier for businesses to open and run under temporary crisis circumstances. However, regulations designed to protect public health have become stricter, to prevent the spread of Covid-19. ALL businesses should check the following changes carefully.

Planning and licensing

  • Planning regulation has been relaxed for a 12 month period, to enable restaurants, cafés and pubs which do not currently offer delivery or hot food takeaway to do so, without needing the normal planning permission. If you intend to make this change of use, you should still inform our Development Management team. You will still need the appropriate licences, and should also get in touch with our Licensing Team if necessary.
  • Those venues offering takeaway or delivery services must not include alcoholic beverages, if their license does not already permit it.
  • The government has relaxed the regulations around the hours that retailers can make or accept deliveries of essential items. As a result, we will not be taking Planning Enforcement action against any retailer who makes or receives deliveries at 'unsocial' hours that would not normally be allowed. We appreciate that this may cause some disruption and noise disturbance to nearby residents, and ask you to bear with us at this time of crisis.

Social distancing

  • If you provide takeaway food for collection, you must follow the guidance on social distancing at your establishment at all times. This will reduce social interaction between people, to reduce transmission of COVID-19.
  • Social distancing techniques must also be applied when delivering food to customers. See below for more details.
  • People must not consume food or drinks on-site at restaurants, cafés or pubs whilst waiting for takeaway food.

General advice

We understand that many businesses may choose to deliver food during the Coronavirus crisis, as a way of sustaining income, which we support. If you are planning on changing or extending your business model to include food delivery in the community, please ensure that you and any employees follow good food safety practices.

You may be delivering food to households who are self-isolating, and will include vulnerable groups and those who are immuno-compromised. These groups are likely to be more vulnerable to food-borne infections.

If you deliver food, you should ensure that you follow safe hygiene practices, from preparation to delivery. Consider all stages of your operation, and control any risks to those receiving and consuming your food. Have enough hand washing facilities in place for all those involved in the service you are providing.

This document provides advice for you and your business during the current situation. If you are going to offer a service that is not covered by this advice, or have further enquiries, then please email us or call on 01225 47 75 08

Select a topic from the list below, to ensure that you are following the most up-to-date guidance, to protect the health and safety of your employees and customers.

New businesses

If you are setting up a new food business, download and complete our Food Business Registration form. Email us your completed form, or you can call us on 01225 47 75 08

Taking and delivering orders and takeaway food

The steps below provide some guidance on how to take and deliver customer orders and provide a safe takeaway service. 

Taking orders

  • Where possible, have customers pre-pay for their order over the phone by credit or debit card. This reduces the amount of physical money being handled (reducing the chance of infections being passed on).
  • Ask your customers if they are self-isolating due to suspected Coronavirus.
  • When customers place their orders, check if they have any allergies or food intolerances.
  • Ensure staff or helpers are trained in allergen awareness, and how to accurately identify and advise on orders where extra care is necessary. You should use labels to list the ingredients that are in your foods.

Deliveries

  • You should deliver food in fully closed packaging and covered containers.
  • Arrange a suitable drop-off point with the customer, to avoid direct contact.
  • For all orders, you must use social distancing (a space of 2m or more) when dropping off food to customers.
  • Provide delivery drivers with gloves to use while delivering food, and advise them to use hand sanitiser between deliveries.
  • Before and after delivery rounds, clean and disinfect your vehicles. This could also be done throughout the day at different times.

Takeaway 

  • Ensure a 2 metre distance between customers and staff during service. This will also apply to the staff working within the premises. 
  • Avoid large groups of people entering the food waiting or foyer areas. Practice a one in, one out policy, and provide signage indicating this. 
  • Queue control is required outside shops and other essential premises that remain open. Ensure a distance of 2m for social distancing in external queues. We recommend marking distances with tape or similar.
  • You should not provide seating areas, indoors and outdoors, for customers to consume food and drink on.
  • Encourage customers to use contactless payment methods, to minimise the handling of cash.

Suppliers

The steps below provide some guidance on how to deal with suppliers. 

  • Make sure the ingredients you use come from reputable, properly registered food suppliers.
  • Ask your suppliers to provide allergen information for any products they supply - this is particularly important if they are a supplier who you have not used before.
  • Keep invoices from suppliers, so you have the traceability details for ingredients - then you can contact them for any information about their products, or if they have to recall any.
  • Check the packaging and temperature of perishable, high-risk foods such as meat and dairy products on delivery, to ensure they have arrived at the correct temperature. Delivery temperatures for perishable high-risk foods should be kept below 8°C.

Food storage

The steps below provide some guidance on how to store food safely. 

  • Store food in pest-proof rooms, with easy-to-clean surfaces.
  • Keep food covered or in containers with secure lids.
  • Store raw meats away from ready-to-eat foods – if possible, store these in separate fridges and freezers. If this is not possible, always store raw foods on a lower shelf than ready-to-eat foods.
  • Keep ingredients containing any of the 14 allergens separate from other ingredients, and in labelled containers.
  • Ensure food temperatures are maintained during storage, and regularly monitor these. Store perishable high-risk foods at 5°C (temperatures should not go above 8°C), and when frozen, store at colder than -18°C.
  • Use a probe thermometer or temperature gauges inside fridges and freezers to check temperatures - keep probe thermometers regularly calibrated.
  • Check you have enough cold storage available, and whether you may need more if demand increases. If you are using storage rooms in public houses or garages, you must ensure these are pest-free and you can routinely store high-risk food at safe temperatures.
  • Restrict access to food handling and storage rooms for anyone not involved in food preparation or delivery.

Food preparation

The steps below provide some guidance on how to prepare food hygienically. 

  • Avoid cross-contamination between raw and cooked or ready-to-eat foods during preparation, as bacteria from raw foods can cause serious food poisoning.
  • Use separate surfaces and equipment (for example, separate chopping boards and knives).
  • Use dedicated handling areas and separate equipment where possible to avoid any risk of cross-contamination, when preparing dishes for someone with an allergy. When this is not possible, you must thoroughly clean any surfaces and equipment you are going to use to prevent the cross-contamination of allergens.
  • Ensure any hot food being held hot in a bain marie or warming cabinet is kept at a temperature above 63°C.
  • Staff working behind a servery or hot-hold counter should practise social distancing, with a 2 metre separation.

Food packaging

The steps below provide some guidance on how to pack your food safely. 

  • Anyone preparing or packing food should regularly wash their hands and practise good personal hygiene.
  • Deliver food in food-safe, fully covered packaging, using enclosed containers.
  • Store disposable food packaging hygienically before use.
  • Think about how far you are able to travel and deliver your food. Keep food at safe temperatures throughout delivery. If you are delivering chilled or frozen food, you should use a cool box with ice packs, or a refrigerated vehicle. You can use a probe or internal thermometer inside cool boxes.

Cleaning and hand washing

The steps below provide some guidance on the extra cleaning required at this time. 

  • Increase the frequency of cleaning and sanitising surfaces and equipment. Use hot, soapy water and a suitable cloth to wipe surfaces, and apply a disinfectant or sanitiser for the recommended contact time on the label (a ‘two-stage clean’). Always use cleaning products according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Use a two-stage cleaning process, which is more effective at preventing the risk of cross-contamination between raw and ready-to-eat food handling tasks. This practice can also reduce the risk of foods being contaminated with allergens that wouldn’t normally be present in the recipe.
  • Try to include the most commonly touched items within your cleaning routine (for example, taps, kettles, coffee machines, electronic keypads).
  • Ensure front servery areas where customers wait for takeaway food are fully sanitised regularly.
  • Other hand contact points, such as light switches and door handles, should be sanitised at least once a day, or every time you suspect they may have been contaminated.
  • Use disposable cloths or paper towels for wiping surfaces and equipment where possible. Re-usable cloths should be thoroughly washed and disinfected after use; use a very hot washing machine cycle (at least 90°C).
  • Ensure you have enough cleaning products available, and that you are using products suitable for the task.

Hand washing facilities

  • Make sure there are enough places to wash hands for 20 seconds with soap and water, and encourage everyone to do so regularly. Basins should be supplied with hot and cold water, soap and towels, and kept regularly stocked.

  • Provide hand sanitiser for staff, and encourage them to use this in between washing hands.

  • Use sanitiser products that carry the British Standards BSEN 1276 or BSEN 13697 codes. You can check for this by looking at the product label.

Allergens and food labelling

The steps below provide some guidance on how to protect your customers through allergen controls and labelling. 

  • Indicate what the ingredients of the product are if you are publishing a menu or taking orders online. Make sure in particular that you list any allergens they may contain.
  • Provide clear guidance on how customers can contact you or a member of staff who prepared or packed the food for further information about allergens.
  • Make sure staff ask if anyone has a food allergy when taking orders by phone, and make sure they communicate that allergy to the chef.
  • Clearly label all the ingredients and allergens in your foods. Those for delivery should have the correct allergen information provided with them.
  • Clearly mark food containers for takeaway deliveries with allergen identification or information, to ensure dishes are given to the right person.

Dealing with excess food and waste

The steps below provide some guidance on excess food and waste. 

  • If you have any excess food that has not reached its Use by or Best by date and is still safe to eat, try to donate this to a local charitable organisation, such as Food Cycle, rather than throwing it away. 
  • Dispose hygienically of any waste that is generated. Waste food must not be left to build up in storage areas or waste bins, as this can attract pests. Waste food can be recycled.
  • Double bag and seal domestic tissues and cleaning cloths from potentially infected households. To protect waste service operatives, these bags should be kept for 72 hours before collection, and clearly marked as potentially contaminated personal waste. 
  • Do not put antibacterial wipes down the toilet.
  • Make sure all waste is collected by a registered carrier. All businesses have a duty of care for any waste they generate.

Keep updated

WarningGuidance is likely to be updated regularly. Please continue to consult this page and the information sources below, to ensure that you have the most current information.

The government has published guidance for food businesses that are still allowed to operate. 

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health has also published guidance for food delivery and takeaway businesses.

Social media is a valuable tool at a time like this, but it can also contain misinformation and rumour, which isn’t helpful. The following Twitter accounts will be regularly posting the latest factual advice and information related to COVID-19.

For updates about Bath & North East Somerset Council services during the crisis, visit our Coronavirus web page. You can also contact us through our dedicated email address Covid-19incidentcomms@ bathnes.gov.uk