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Should Service Staff Wear Gloves or Not?

Hygiene practices in the restaurant and hospitality industry are standard practices that existed before covid-19 and will continue to exist long after covid-19 is gone.

I visited a restaurant with my family the other day, and I was surprised to see the waitress collecting used glasses from a table and placing them on a tray and then serving drinks to the same table and the next table from the same tray.

Nothing strange about that, is there? a professional well postured, fast and efficient waitress wearing her surgical gloves and mask, clearing some glasses and serving some drinks to customers... no of course not!

Although the specific waitress seemed very professional, well postured, she was wearing her surgical gloves and mask, I noticed that this specific waitress, first collected the used glasses from the customer's table, picking them up by the rims of the glass, and then she served 2 glasses of beverages to the same table, again holding the glasses by the rim, and then she went to the next table and served their beverages also holding the glasses by the rim.

The point I am trying to make is (and it is debatable), do the surgical gloves make a difference? or are they just to satisfy the customer and make them feel more comfortable and safe?

I believe that staff training is the key to hygiene, health and safety. Even simply things like how to serve and clear a glass from the customer's tables, that the glass must be served and cleared from the table by the base of the glass and not the rim is one of the many important details that all staff members should be trained, and supervised on a constant basis.

Hygiene in Restaurants and Hospitality industry is a MUST at all times and not only now that covid-19 has popped up in our lives. It should be a habit! Staff members should be trained at all times, and Managers should be looking out for untrained staff.

If any of those glasses that were collected and any of the customers had a contagious virus or bacteria, it would have been transferred from the rims of the used glasses to the other customer's beverage glasses and would have been contaminated.

Now back to the "gloves" debate. The surgical mask I can understand, when we talk and breathe droplets of saliva containing germs can be spread whilst in close distance with one another, either whilst taking the customer's order, serving their food or even interacting with other colleagues. Service staff wearing gloves... I don't understand, are they less or more hygienic? are they to protect the customer or the staff? or both the customer and the staff?

During my 25 years experience in the restaurant and hospitality industry I have witnessed many unhygienic practices of employees wearing gloves. I have seen sweat dripping out of the glove and dripping all over a pizza whilst an employee was lifting their hands to take toppings from the make line to add to the pizza. I have seen hotel kitchen employees coming out of toilets still wearing their gloves. I have witnesses employees having dirt on their gloves but did not notice, because they could not feel it. I have witnessed an employee taking a fork from the unwashed pile of knife and forks that had been cleared from customer's tables and heading to the fridge to poke out some gherkins from the jar to serve to a customer.

So what is better? gloves or no gloves?

My opinion is that staff should be trained and supervised to be hygiene conscious at all times. Glove, or no glove, if an employee is not hygiene conscious and does not always follow health and hygiene rules and procedures, then there is no glove in the world that can can keep germs away.

By Demetris Ioannou (CEO Leading Hotelier)

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