Back to business in the new normal: Scottish Bakers publishes guide for safe reopening of bakery operations

By Gill Hyslop contact

- Last updated on GMT

How to operate a business in the new normal. Pic: GettyImages/Ridofranz
How to operate a business in the new normal. Pic: GettyImages/Ridofranz

Related tags: Scottish Bakers, coronavirus, Best practice

The Scottish bakers association has released a best practice guide to help bakers reopen or increase their activities safely as lockdown measures start to ease.

The ‘Coronavirus: Guide To Operational Best Practice’ has been compiled to help bakers ‘plan, prepare and pilot’ their approach to restarting or increasing production and retail operations in a way that ensures they are doing everything possible to limit the spread of coronavirus.

The free guide - available from Scottish Bakers - covers the following:

  • First Steps: Risk assessment for bakeries and the retail environment 
  • Questionnaire of readiness
  • Practical considerations
  • Distancing
  • Appropriate PPE
  • When staff display symptoms
  • Essential resources

According to the association, the pandemic brought unprecedented pressures to bear on its members. While the majority of its members were able to continue production, many had to limit production or even close completely because of the challenges of implementing the required social distancing measures.

“The sector employs 12,000 across Scotland and at the height of the lockdown, 80% of members had furloughed staff with many also simply closed for business,”​ said Scottish Bakers CEO Alasdair Smith.

“Our research through this crisis indicated around a third of all bakery shops & all bakery cafes were at one point closed across Scotland. Many more bakers fear they will be unable to continue trading or remain viable for much longer despite access to Government support and it is against this backdrop that we are launching our guide today.

“As restrictions begin to ease, more of our members are looking to re-start or increase production and retail operations which is why we’ve brought together the essential elements of the official advice and guidance into this document for members.”

Essential resource in times of uncertainty

Incoming Scottish Bakers president and owner of Murray’s of Perth, Linda Hill added, “As it became obvious that we were going to go into lockdown, I knew I was going to have to act fast.

“I was worried for my staff and my own family so I was already thinking about whether I could  stay open in the situation that was going on around us.

“I had talked to the staff as I knew that if a full lockdown went in to place we might have to close to keep staff and customers safe, but luckily I was able to hold out until the furlough scheme was announced. My staff were supportive even though they were prepared to work through but when I talked to them about closing, I think they were relieved as well. 

“The first few weeks we were closed were hard with money worries at the forefront, and whilst our Small Business Grant money was paid quickly, the furlough payments from the government didn't come through for another 8 weeks. My staff are paid weekly so at this point there was plenty of money going out with nothing coming in which led to some seriously stressful moments.

“We’ve really appreciated the regular updates throughout this from Scottish Bakers with all the relevant information on reopening and on our responsibilities and the latest guide for safe operations is a really essential resource.”

Business as usual in the new normal

Murray’s of Perth will reopen the week of June 15, following a deep clean of the bakery and shop as well as staff training on how things are going to operate in the ‘new normal’.

“We will only be bringing back a third of our staff to start with as we can only have two serving at any one time due to the two metre rule, so we will have to take each day as it comes and build up from that, although judging by the amount of messages I have had asking when we will open, I am hoping the queue will be down the street,”​ said Hill.

The baker will have hand sanitizer available to customers at the entrance to the shop and will only admit two customers at a time. It is also encouraging phone orders for click and collect and will use a separate door for collection.

“My emotions have been all over the place throughout this and there have been many tears, it's certainly been the hardest thing we as a business have ever faced and I am doing everything possible to keep staff in employment moving forward, but we can’t predict what is going to happen over the course of the next six months.

“I am worried about reopening and how it will be, but we are doing everything possible to keep our staff and customers safe when we do. Risk assessments have been carried out and will continue once we get going. I have never been so glad at the thought of getting back to work though and back to a routine. “

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