This weekend saw many businesses in the hospitality industry opening their doors for the first time since Covid-19 brought Australia’s economy to a standstill.
But strict 10 person limits have made it difficult for many businesses to reopen. With restrictions that fail to cater to all but the smallest of establishments, the vast majority of the hospitality industry will be forced to remain closed until restrictions are eased further.
Australian Hotels Association ACT general manager Anthony Brierley states that ‘most venues would not be able to reopen under the changes‘.
Clubs ACT CEO Gwyn Rees describes the 10 person limit as ‘disappointing and unviable.’
Rees went on to claim that ‘restrictions haven’t really been lifted to a workable level for the majority of the hospitality industry’.
Obviously these restrictions are vital to the health and safety of all Australians, but the hospitality industry is far too varied to make blanket restrictions a practical option. No two businesses are the same, and every establishment will be differently equipped to manage the protection of their staff and patrons.
Obviously these restrictions are vital to the health and safety of all Australians, but the hospitality industry is far too varied to make blanket restrictions a practical option.
No two businesses are the same, and every establishment will be differently equipped to manage the protection of their staff and patrons.
Some larger establishments with more floor space may be able to cater to 50 customers at a time with no more risk to the public than a smaller establishment catering to 10.
Other businesses who have gone the extra mile and installed perspex partitions, have ensured that they too are ready to safely serve more than 10 customers at a time, although they cannot yet do that.
This is why many, such as the Australian Hotels Association, want the government to reconsider the current restrictions.
With extra care, strict cleaning regimes and attention to physical distancing requirements, it’s possible for the Australian hospitality industry to begin recovering. But this process can only begin once the industry is offered a viable pathway back to work.
Safe Work Australia suggests that businesses consider redesigning the layout of their stores to protect staff and customers. With careful restructuring of restaurants, cafes, pubs and clubs, patrons and workers can be kept at a safe distance from one another at points of contact such as cash registers and service desks.
The installation of portable workplace screens can offer further protection by reducing contact with the public.
Businesses in the hospitality industry may want to consider the use of mobile germ protection screens.
This will allow establishments to effectively separate their dining areas into ‘zones’, each serving no more than 10 customers at a time without any added risk.
With zones established, and careful cleaning ensured, perhaps we could consider alternative ways in which the hospitality industry can open their doors, while maintaining safety for staff and patrons.
There’s no doubt that there are hard times ahead for the hospitality industry. But the sooner we can get businesses up and running safely, the sooner the industry can start down the road to recovery.