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How to (re)start your catering project with reduced risk ?

The points discussed in this article are:

  1. The companies that can help you get back on track

  2. Restart safely after the end of the lockdown

  3. Especially when you want to restart your business

  4. A partner to help you in Brussels: BeCook

1) Companies that can help you get back on your feet

For many hospitality establishments, the hold of business has had serious economic consequences. Even if some restaurant owners have been able to limit the damage by offering take-away meals, the whole hospitality industry is enfeebled and worries about its revival.

Fortunately, in the midst of this unprecedented crisis, several measures have been taken by the HORECA Federation, in agreement with the National Bank and the banking sector. These measures aim to help you financially in the revival of your catering activity. What kind of aid can you expect:

  • A reduction of VAT at 6% on meals and non-alcoholic drinks valid until December 31, 2020;

  • A check of €300 will be granted to citizens so that they can support sectors in difficulty (including hospitality) and social aid recipients will receive a supplement of €50 per month for six months;

  • The implementation of a precautionary guide accompanied by summary sheets and pictograms in order to reopen your establishment in the best conditions and to reassure your customers;

  • Bulk buying of masks and hydro-alcoholic gel for caterers and other employees of hospitality establishments;

  • An extension of temporary unemployment for reasons of absolute necessity until August 31, or even until December 31 for the self-employed who experience the most difficulty;

  • A deferral of social security contributions, a waiver of contributions for semesters 1 and 2 of 2020 for the self-employed and a reduction in provisional social security contributions for the year 2020;

  • A suspension of monthly payments for bank loans;

  • A freezing of bankruptcy measures;

All the measures implemented are available on the official website of the HORECA Federation.

Other companies that can help you in Brussels :

2) Restarting safely after the end of the lockdown

Following the end of the lockdown, the hospitality industry was finally able to reopen on June 8. Caterers can now resume their business while respecting the new strict hygiene rules. However, this reopening is partial. The banquet and reception venues will only be able to reopen from July 1 and will not be able to accommodate more than 50 people. Otherwise, cafés, restaurants and bars may already reopen, under certain conditions:

  • The tables must be arranged to guarantee a space of 1.50 m between clients. Otherwise, a Plexiglas barrier of at least 1.80 m high must be provided;

  • Tablecloths and paper napkins should be used. If they are made of fabric, a wash at more than 60°C between each client will be mandatory;

  • No more salt and pepper shakers, sauce bottles, as well as bread baskets. Portions have to be individual;

  • The menu card will no longer be available for distribution. Instead, the restaurant owner can put up a menu on the wall or the menu can be made available directly on the customer's smart phone by using a QR code that can be scanned;

  • Tables and chairs must be disinfected after each departure of customers;

  • When possible, doors should be left open during the service;

  • Wearing protective masks is mandatory for staff;

  • No more than 10 people can sit at a single table.

Source : RTBF

3) What do you need to know for relaunching your business

As a caterer, do you need a special registration for your business?

Companies in the hospitality industry need an authorization from the FASFC and you will find all the information on their official website "Restarting your activity: the FASFC accompanies you!" which was updated on June 12 2020.

Can hospitality establishments deliver meals at home?

In addition to being able to prepare meals, hospitality establishments can provide a home delivery service. However, several rules must be respected in order to prevent the spread of the virus, and protect the health of customers:

  • Food to be refrigerated or frozen products must be kept in refrigerators or other refrigerated containers at the legal food storage temperatures, which is at a maximum of 7°C.

  • For the heat chain, the storage temperature must be at least between 55°C and 60°C.

  • This storage temperature must also be observed during transport in order to avoid bacterial growth.

  • The allergens that may be present in the product must be communicated to the customer, either in writing on a label or verbally.

These rules also apply to takeout orders. Customers can pick up takeaway meals directly from hospitality establishments as long as they respect the aforementioned conditions.

It is important to respect the hygiene rules, as well as good hygiene practices in order to prevent any contamination:

  • Cooking foods separately, especially when one of the foods is raw meat

  • After food preparation, wash used surfaces with plenty of hot water and soap, especially raw meat surfaces.

  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water between each handling.

  • Raw meats must be sufficiently cooked (70°C through the heart for at least 2 minutes).

  • Do not cook food when you are sick.

Source : AFSCA

What about packaging ?

In order to avoid the spread of the virus, it is advised that customers do not bring their own containers to the caterer (just like at the baker's or butcher's). Because customers’ containers could carry the virus and infect the caterer.

When cooking and serving customers, is it better to wear gloves or to wash your hands regularly?Wearing gloves may provide protection against the spread of the virus if they are changed regularly. Gloves can sometimes prove to be false friends, since you feel protected and think less about washing your hands regularly. Therefore, regular hand washing between each customer contact seems to be the best way to avoid any risk.

4) A partner to help you in Brussels : BeCook!

Following the forced shutdown of the majority of business related to the hospitality industry, it is likely that you will now have to respond to an increase in new bookings for various events such as weddings, baptisms, birthdays, private parties or home deliveries. Especially with the summer coming, the demand is likely to explode!

But how can you meet this exceptional demand when you do not have a proportional production capacity?

This is where we come in: discover BeCook! We offer you the rental of individual professional kitchens (by the hour, day or month). BeCook is also a community of local food entrepreneurs who develop their activities, share their experiences and resources with you.

For more information, contact us or book a free visit of our professional kitchens located on the Brussels Canal (near Tour and Taxis).

In this article, you can find more tips to improve your production capacity, and thus increase your turnover after lockdown!

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