Reopening Your Fish and Chip Shop

This page includes guidance for fish and chip businesses across the UK reopening during Covid-19 restrictions.

We have compiled the following advice on how to reopen your takeaway business after a period of closure. It covers the hygiene measures you should take as a result of an extended closure and recommendations on how to operate under the current coronavirus situation. 

You can also download this guidance as a pdf document from the link in the Further info section of this page.

Before opening

You have a responsibility to do what you can to minimise the risk to your team and your customers. You should trade only if you have minimised the risk appropriately. Check with your local authority before opening to ensure they are satisfied with the measures you have put in place.

Food safety measures

You also need to:

  • Arrange for your pest contractor to visit as soon as convenient. Check the status of baits and check for any sign of pest entry or activity.
  • Clean all fridges, freezers, frying units, extraction system and other equipment and check that they are working properly. 
  • Check the condition of any stored food and ensure it is still in date.
  • Check the condition of your frying medium.
  • Run taps, flush toilets, and flush and grease collection traps to protect against legionella. These areas should be sanitised.
  • If you have your own cold water tank or air conditioning coolers, check with the company that does your legionella inspections whether any testing is needed before systems are switched back on.
  • Ensure all food safety documents are up to date, any in-shop signage is accurate, and carry out routine checks (e.g. temperature checks).

You should also let your suppliers know that you are planning to open and discuss with them any changes to supplies. As a courtesy, you could let your neighbours know that you are reopening.

Protecting staff from COVID-19

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness spread via droplets released by coughing or sneezing. The virus is not known to be transmitted by food or food packaging. As a matter of good practice, staff should wash their hands regularly, with soap and water, for a minimum of 20 seconds.

As a food business operator you should:

  • Continue to follow FSA guidance on good personal hygiene.
  • Follow government advice on cleaning and hygiene practices.
  • Keep monitoring the government response to coronavirus for further updates.
  • Ensure that any staff member who feels unwell stays home and if necessary follows the government’s advice on self-isolation to prevent further spread of the virus. 
    •  Any worker who feels unwell or who is living with someone who shows any of the symptoms of coronavirus should stay at home and contact management immediately. 
  • Organise your operations so that employees don’t need to get too close to customers or other employees. 
    • Try to keep teams small, and do not mix and match teams. 
    • Use employees that don’t have far to travel and ask them to avoid public transport.
  • Ask workers to wash their hands frequently throughout their shift, and to avoid touching their face.
  • Sanitise surfaces often, especially handles and touch screens.
  • Use electronic payment if you can. 
    • Cashless payments are preferable to cash payments to reduce staff contact with customers. However you can allow customers to pay using money.
    • Staff must wash hands between handling cash or card readers and handling food.
  • If you are asking employees to carry out unfamiliar jobs (such as extra cleaning) make sure they are correctly trained.

The NFFF has produced a Coronavirus Employee Briefing. You should read this carefully and ensure that your employees read it, understand it, and sign and date it to confirm their understanding.

Dealing with incoming goods

  • Deliveries of stock should be to the back door. Minimise contact with the delivery driver. 
  • External packaging should be disposed of and then wash your hands. 
  • There is evidence that the virus decays over time so if possible, leave stock 72 hours before using. 
  • Leave packaging in its plastic outer until use. 
  • Simplify menu options to reduce the number of deliveries needed. 

Managing customers

You should discourage walk-in orders. Orders should be taken in advance by telephone or online.

You should ensure that customers maintain social distancing from each other and from staff when collecting their orders. There are different ways you can do this. For example you could:

  • Place a table in the doorway, and place orders on the table.
  • Offer a 'drop to car boot' service.
  • Require customers to enter your shop one at a time when their order is ready.
  • Consider offering a delivery service.

As far as possible, try to encourage social distancing in queues that might form outside the premises. This can be helped by providing staggered collection times.

Taking orders remotely (by phone or online) and accepting payment

You can accept orders by phone, by text or online through your own website or another online platform, for example WhatsApp, email, a Twitter direct message or a Facebook message. You should aim to provide the same information to the customer that you would provide in a face-to-face sale. 

You need to tell customers if the food you provide contains any of the 14 specified allergens as an ingredient. This can be done on the phone when taking an order, or in writing (through your website or a printed menu). 

You can take payment by any method, for example by using contactless payment, ‘customer not present’ card payments (which involves entering the customer's long card number and security code on your terminal) or using PayPal or a similar online system. Try to avoid taking cash on collection if you can.

Delivering food

If you have not previously delivered food orders, you need to consider any new or different food safety risks posed by the change to your operations. You need to ensure that your food remains safe to eat at the point at which it is delivered to the customer. Let your local authority know if you intend to carry out food deliveries.

Food should be delivered at the correct temperature, and in clean containers that protect it from contamination (from harmful bacteria or small objects) and from cross-contamination from other foods particularly allergenic ingredients. It is advisable to have insulated containers for hot and cold foods to maintain the temperature of the food. With takeaways and prepared foods, you should limit your journeys to a 30 minute radius if possible.

Even where allergen information was provided at the time the order was taken, it must be provided again when the food is delivered. This can be in writing (allergen stickers on food or an enclosed copy of a menu) or orally (by the delivery driver). 

You should keep the delivery vehicle clean. You can use your own car as a delivery vehicle. Your vehicle needs to be insured appropriately, taxed, in MOT compliance etc. If you have used your vehicle for transporting anything other than food, you should clean it thoroughly before using it to deliver food, to avoid the risk of contamination. Smoking is not permitted in any delivery vehicle for reasons of food hygiene and because it is considered a workplace.

There are additional measures relating to COVID-19 that you should consider:

  • Staff should observe social distancing at the point at which the driver picks up the food from your premises. 
  • Drivers should wash their hands on arrival for pick-ups and when returning after deliveries. 
  • Drivers should be able to pick up orders without entering the food preparation area.
  • At drop-off, delivery drivers should maintain social distancing.
  • If you are accepting payment at the point of delivery, you should introduce measures to reduce contact between the customer and the delivery person.
  • You should provide hand sanitiser to the delivery person and this should be used regularly – such as after ringing a doorbell or before picking up an order.

The Food Standards Agency has produced Advice on Adapting restaurants and food businesses for takeaway and food delivery during COVID-19

Information sources

Much of the information has been adapted from guidance produced by the UK Government, the National Federation of Fish Friers (NFFF), the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) and the Institute of Food Science and Technology (IFST).

Do you need help?

Get in touch with our Regulation team who put together this guidance.

Ivan Bartolo
Regulatory Affairs Advisor