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Restaurants: Don’t Close Before You Reopen

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

In recent weeks, we’ve published several articles, blogs and social media posts reminding businesses about the importance of remembering preventive pest control when getting ready to reopen.

This week, one restaurant had a stark reminder of the risks they face when reopening after a long period of inactivity. Luckily, our pest control technician was on-hand to talk through the situation with the environmental health officer (EHO), which led to a happy outcome for the restaurant owner.

Lockdowns have affected us all in different ways but perhaps the most heavily impacted industry has been hospitality. Social distancing has meant many restaurants have either had to close for the whole period or reopen as takeaways. With the end in sight, and many restaurants now preparing to welcome customers back into their premises, it is time for them to take a serious look at their preventive pest control strategy.

I understand the challenges these restaurants have been through; to have survived the last twelve months has been a real achievement. I also know how difficult it is for restaurateurs to get their businesses to a point where they can reopen. Last week, the celebrity chef Michael Caines revealed how difficult even he is finding it to recruit staff for this restaurant since Brexit and the pandemic. Staff are simply not available to fill the places.

The challenges of recruiting and training suitable staff and the difficulties associated with getting a business up and running after a fallow period mean some restaurateurs may understandably take their eye off the ball when it comes to pest control. However, as the £17,000 fine recently given to a restaurant in Abingdon shows, this is something you simply cannot afford to do.

A restaurant near us reopened last week and, on day one, was visited by the EHO. In a spirit of full disclosure, the EHO was preparing to close them down but our technician was able to visit the site within one hour. The next day, a different EHO visited and our pest control technician was again on site to talk through the situation. I think it is fair to say, the report given by the second EHO made it clear he was not impressed by the first report. Once he had talked through the situation with our technician and the restaurant’s owners, it was clear to him that all necessary remediation strategies were in place and that the situation was being dealt with correctly.

Now, I don’t want to sound like I am having a go at EHOs. There had been a problem, but the truth was it was clearly being dealt with professionally and future preventive strategies were in place. There isn’t a restaurant in the world, just as there isn’t a farm, factory or school, that doesn’t have the potential for a rodent problem. Restaurants offer safe harbourage, food, water and warmth - the very things rodents will look for.

In the maelstrom of reopening it can be easy to overlook pest control but, as the experience of this restaurant shows, this is simply something you can’t afford to allow happen as you can be closed on day one if you are found to have a problem. 

As I say, I am very pleased that our technician was able to be onsite within an hour and he could then talk to the new EHO the next day. However, this situation could have been avoided if we had given the site a thorough inspection before it reopened. The first EHO would have then seen that the correct pest prevention measures were in place and there would have been no reason for the second visit.

We have considerable experience in helping pubs, restaurants and takeaways implement efficient and cost-effective preventive pest control strategies. To learn more, contact us on 020 8668 5477 or click here.