THE OTHER SIDE: How will it look when doors reopen?
With restrictions starting to lift, and the possibility of some venues opening in June it looks like dining out and holidaying may be on the cards again soon. But how will this look? There is a lot of talk surrounding restrictions that may be in place when we do get to reopen our doors. We will take a look at some of these.
The Northern Territory Government has mentioned that Restaurants and Cafes will need to have a Coronavirus Plan in place to reopen. There is a good chance this will become a requirement across the Nation. These plans will need to illustrate how you have minimised the potential for the virus to spread throughout your venue. Guidance to what the requirements of this plan may include is currently being drafted, however based on other countries and media speculation, you can expect it to require some of the elements below.
In some nations experiencing success in controlling the impact of Covid-19, restaurants are doing temperature checks. Could we see the same practice here? As we head into winter it is a possibility. If people are able to shop without the need of a temperature check you would have to consider this measure to be non essential for the hospitality industry, but it should not be ruled out. A lot of the cheaper non contact thermometers still require close contact with a person to get a reading, and taking temperatures upon entry to a venue could create crowding at the entrance. This would also need to be overcome.
HAND SANITISER STATIONS
Commonplace in Buffets and on Cruise ships, hand sanitiser stations are not new, but expect them to become the norm, for a while anyway. It can be expected that these will be required upon entry of your venue and possibly exit, but could we also see them at dining tables as well? Whether there will be a requirement for automated units or just pump bottles is yet to be seen, however to cater for small to large businesses, and considering a lot of places currently open use pump bottles, you would expect there to be no restriction on this.
Some Restaurants in Asia have implemented these, and venues in Europe are also looking at it. Could we see it in Australia as well? Partitions between diners at a table or between individual tables in a restaurant could be a requirement. Setting up dining areas in pods or cubicles could allow you to open your indoor dining area sooner than those that do not. Having partitions on a table where a family is dining is problematic, however these may be a requirement for business lunches and the like. If partitioned dining does become the norm there will need to be a solid framework around how this is to function in a venue. Additionally screens like we have seen pop up in supermarkets to protect staff from customers, may also become a requirement for bar and checkout staff.
TOUCH FREE ORDERING
Many of us have become use to ordering take away or delivery on our phone. Could this become the norm, even when dining in. There is talk that menus and buzzers could be a thing of the past for venues, so if this is the case we need to look at the alternatives. Utilising the customers phone could be the best bet. Have the menu on the phone and allow direct ordering. When the order is ready for collection, send an sms or message through bluetooth to the phone. Hopefully wait staff can still have a role taking orders and delivering to tables, however there may be variations in just how this is done. Laminated menus should be easy to clean and sanitise, so this may just become a requirement with the removal of paper options.
CAN BUFFETS BE ADAPTED?
Converting to a traditional restaurant structure may help in the short term. There may also be the option to have “servers” at the buffet to allow operations to continue.
REDUCED DINING CAPACITY
This seems like it will be the most likely of all requirements. It can be expected that spacing between tables will need to be increased. This will be an easy one for Restaurants and Cafes to implement. It may also require some creative thinking in how you can best utilise your space to maximise capacity whilst adhering to the social distancing guidelines that are in place.
In Queensland from this weekend you will be allowed to picnic. Now if you have people in parks 4 metres apart eating a meal, why can’t restaurants and cafes reopen alfresco dining to the same? Councillor Tom Tate wants to see Cafes & Restaurants open again on the Gold Coast, so there should be a real push for the opening of Alfresco dining as a bare minimum. It is hopeful that both indoor and outdoor dining will open up again soon, however there is a possibility we will see alfresco dining available before indoor dining.
Right now we do not know what restrictions will be in place when we get to reopen. By the end of the week some things may be a bit clearer based on what comes out of the Northern Territory. One thing we do know is we can expect things to be different and we will need to adapt.