What The Future Of Australian Restaurants Could Look Like


China Gives Us A Glimpse At The Future Of Australian Restaurants

Life is slowly returning to normal in China after the coronavirus outbreak began in late 2019. But even though civilians are recommencing their pre COVID-19 rituals, quarantines, temperature checks and some forms of social distancing all remain the norm, especially at restaurants.

In Beijing, after almost two months of quarantine and intense emergency measures, some form of normality is slowly returning to the country’s capital. And while the rate of new infections continues to increase rapidly around the world, China has reported no new cases of COVID-19, meaning that Beijing and other major cities are no longer the ghost towns they used to be.

Life After Quarantine in China’s Capital of Beijing

If we were to wander through the streets of Beijing today, we’d see groups sitting outside in public spaces, customers lining up to get into shops, etc. It’s almost as though everything is as it was – that is until you look at the restaurant scene.

Sadly, Beijing’s hospitality industry remains severely affected by COVID-19. The government has maintained strict limits on dining establishments and customers remain unsure about sharing space and food with other members of the public. While all kinds of stores and businesses have reopened over the past two weeks, the majority of restaurants remain closed.

A Long Road To Recovery

Restaurants that managed to reopen have had to change the way they do business, much like our hospitality industry here in Australia. If anything, the state of things in Beijing offers Australia a glimpse at what the future could look like, and unfortunately, the road ahead for our restaurants appears to be long.

While restaurateurs are noticing an increase in customers week on week, venue owners and operators in Beijing are concerned they won’t be back to full operation until the threat is gone completely.

At the moment, dine-in venues are able to have three people per table, and all we can hope is that this continues to improve as time goes on. But what does this mean for the rest of the world, particularly for us here in Australia?

Best Practice Guidelines To Reopen Restaurants By June 2020

The Australian government is considering reopening restaurants by June 2020. The national cabinet is reviewing a set of best practice guidelines recommended by the Restaurant and Caterers Association.

The guidelines provide a set of requirements that restaurants would need to follow to reopen following the relaxation of lockdown laws.

Some of the guidelines that restaurants would need to follow include:

  • Pre bookings required for dine in customers
  • Walk in patrons to sign in
  • Use of COVID-19 tracking app
  • No condiments left on tables
  • All condiments to be disposable
  • No communal water stations
  • No keep cups
  • Menus to be laminated or disposable
  • Chalk board menus where possible
  • No bar service to prevent customer contact
  • Different entry and exit points to limit contact between patrons.

Takeaway & Delivery Model Is Essential For Short Term Revenue

Based on the information coming out of China, it would seem that for venues that have been unable to shift to the takeaway/delivery model because of various reasons, closures are likely to continue into the near future.

Given Australia is approximately two months behind China in terms of experiencing the virus’ full impact, it’s important we act now and continue to support our local venues and businesses, while ensuring the safety of ourselves and those around us.

The future of our restaurants, bars, clubs and cafes are uncertain at this time, but the way we choose to manage it now will determine how the industry recovers.

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