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To protect employees and reduce liability for virus outbreaks at work, companies are racing to comply with public health guidelines on issues like employee screening and social distancing.

5 coronavirus things: The coming boom in office social distancing technology

This and UW-Madison restricting dining halls to residents are some of the stories you may have missed recently regarding the COVID-19 crisis.

In this special edition of 5 Things, Food Management highlights five things you may have missed recently about developments regarding coronavirus and its impact on onsite dining.

Here’s your list for today:

  1. Social distancing tech market for workplaces is booming

With companies pressing to figure out how to safely reopen workplaces, makers of everything from office furniture to smart ventilation systems are rushing to sell them products and services marketed as solutions. And they have a captive market. To protect employees and reduce liability for virus outbreaks at work, companies are racing to comply with public health guidelines on issues like employee screening and social distancing. In the United States, the market for contact-tracing technologies for employers could soon be worth $4 billion annually, according to estimates from the International Data Corp. market research firm.

For example, as social distancing requirements will be difficult to manage in any space where there is an opportunity for people to stand and mingle, Sodexo has developed an app called Twelve that allows corporate employees to preorder and pay for their morning coffee and doughnuts.

“You don’t have to go to the cafeteria to pick it up,” said David Bailey, CEO of corporate services. “Companies are spreading pickup locations to three or four locations in the building. And the app uses an algorithm that manages the time periods to make sure there is no crowding.”

Also, upscale corporate cafeterias are likely to now disappear.

“Even before this happened, a lot of organizations were already looking at the cost of real estate and the cost of the cafeteria and wondering if they needed it as a large percentage of their employees were working one or two days from home,” Mr. Bailey said. “Now, we’re seeing a big change in food delivery, away from on-site cafeteria model to a commissary delivery model.” Using an app like Twelve, employees can pre-order and pay for sandwiches and salads and collect them when they are delivered.”

Read more: A Multibillion-Dollar Opportunity: Virus-Proofing the New Office

  1. UW-Madison to restrict campus dining halls to housing residents, staff

University of Wisconsin-Madison officials have announced that the state’s flagship school will reopen as scheduled this fall, but in-person classes will end at Thanksgiving, lecture courses will be offered online only and students will have to wear face masks. Chancellor Rebecca Blank outlined the new parameters, dubbed the Smart Restart plan, in an email to students. She acknowledged campus life will look very different than in years past.

Dorms will be open when the semester begins with a reduction in student density and a no-guest policy. All students and staff in the dorm will be tested regularly for the coronavirus. Campus dining halls will serve only university housing residents and staff, with an emphasis on takeout meals.

Read more: UW-Madison to reopen with in-person, online classes

  1. Mesa Schools to expand number of high school lunch periods

Parents and students got their first detailed look at how different Mesa Public Schools in Arizona will be as the district rolled out the first cut of its plan for reopening campuses Aug. 4. In a series of digital presentations, the district laid out three options for parents to choose from that include a full-time presence on campus, learning online at home or a combination of the two.

However, under any circumstances, the new school year will bear little resemblance to previous years at all grade levels and one of the most telling examples of this involves meals as elementary children will stay in the same room all day, even eating breakfast and lunch there, while junior and senior high students will have to follow social distancing regulations in the hallways and in the cafeteria.

That requirement likely will force at least high schools to have more lunch periods so the cafeterias can accommodate socially distant dining.

“We might have to go with three or four lunch periods,” Superintendent Dr. Andi Fourlis said. “I told the high school principals ‘I think we’ll start with brunch.’ We might even have to open up some empty classrooms that could be designated as lunch space so they can be spread out.”.

Read more: Mesa school reopening plan: No good old days

  1. Notre Dame expects $100M loss next year on top of $44M loss this year

For the upcoming fiscal year beginning July 1, 2020, and ending June 30, 2021, the University of Notre Dame is projecting a $100 million loss in revenue compared to the original budget plans, according to a letter to the Notre Dame community Monday. These losses will be due to “increased financial aid expenditures, flat endowment payout, lower auxiliary revenue and projected lower levels of philanthropy,” the letter signed by University President Fr. John Jenkins, provost Thomas Burish, provost-elect Marie Lynn Miranda and executive vice president Shannon Cullinan, said.

Notre Dame also projects a $44 million loss in revenue for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30 due to the prorating of spring undergraduate room and board fees and the loss of auxiliary revenues from the Hammes Bookstore, campus dining outlets, the Morris Inn and more after the campus closed down.

In order to offset some of the losses for the 2021 fiscal year, the university is considering a number of actions, including a freeze on salary increases until further notice. Also, units across Notre Dame will be asked to prepare for a 2.5% budget reduction for the 2021 fiscal year and a 2.5% budget reduction for the 2022 fiscal year, the letter said.

The university froze staff hiring in March and will continue to do so until otherwise indicated.

Read more: University projects $100 million loss in revenue in upcoming fiscal year, after $44 million loss in revenue for current fiscal year

  1. Sports bar tied to minor league ballpark to open

Third and Home, a new sports bar with a direct view of the Nashville Sounds home field First Horizon Park, will open Friday, June 26, at 5 p.m. The 7,000-square-foot restaurant and bar located on the top floor of a newish building positioned immediately east of the minor league baseball ballpark allows patrons to view from the deck patio the downtown skyline and Nashville Sounds home games.

The bar will operate in conjunction with the Sounds organization and stadium catering partner Centerplate, though the prospect of a baseball season for the Sounds or any other minor league franchise remains uncertain. Major League Baseball recently announced it would go forward with a radically shortened 60-game season despite not having approval from the players union, but it was unclear whether the games would be played in front of fans.

“As we return to a sense of normalcy and implement the proper safety precautions for our staff and patrons, we are excited to finally showcase Third and Home,” Sounds co-owner Third and Home co-owner Frank Ward said in a release. “As live sports return as a part of daily lives, Third and Home will serve as a favorite eat and drink destination for everybody in Middle Tennessee.”

Read more: Third and Home sports bar set for end-of-June launch

Bonus: Tips to reopen your onsite café or restaurant

Contact Mike Buzalka at [email protected]

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