Lockdown and social distancing policies have caused Australia’s hospitality industry to face its biggest challenge yet. With restrictions now being eased, how will the hospitality industry come back from coronavirus?
The Australian hospitality industry has felt the impact of Covid-19, with the nationwide shutdown of non-essential services putting restaurants in a difficult position. In response to the forced closure of businesses around the country, restaurants and cafes have instead been able to offer takeaway and delivery as an alternative. But with the majority of the country in isolation, many small businesses have failed to survive, and others are struggling.
After a difficult and uncertain time for the industry, coronavirus restrictions have been significantly lifted. In NSW, pubs, cafes and restaurants are now open for dining in (as of 1 June), with a maximum capacity of 50 people – up from 10 previously. Patrons must sit at tables in groups no larger than 10 people, and are still expected to maintain their distance from each other, with 4 squared metres of space each.
The major easing of restrictions around the country has most people excited to start socialising once again. But with all the changes, what does this mean for the hospitality industry?
How Will Pubs, Restaurants and Cafes Survive?
In this crisis, there are a lot of questions about the future of the hospitality industry, and at this stage they are hard to answer. Social distancing policies have been necessary to slow the spread of Covid-19, and while businesses have suffered from isolation practices, they have also made appropriate changes to adapt to the situation. Now that things are slowly going back to normal, there is determination from both customers and business owners, and some might say we’ve overcome the worst of the virus.
It goes without saying that the coronavirus pandemic is not exactly over, and people still need to remain cautious. NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard has warned that the virus is “still out there”, and urges people to wash their hands upon arriving at restaurants. Hazzard said:
“Then sit down, enjoy your dinner, do what New South Wales residents have always done, have a great night out with your friends, but be cautious, be careful, and this will work to the advantage of the entire community, but also keep you safe.”
The future of Australian hospitality depends in large part on the behaviour of consumers, and quickly and how smoothly things will go back to normal. Hospitality is a big part of Australian culture: it gives us a sense of community, where families and friends gather to socialise and enjoy themselves. The idea of pubs, cafes and restaurants reopening, as well as new ones that may be introduced, will indeed be exciting for many people coming out of isolation. And the eased restrictions will definitely be a great start for businesses that need to recover.
However, there is also the fact that many people will still choose to keep their distance, regardless of restrictions being lifted. Different people will respond to the changes in ways they feel necessary or safe. And while many people will be quick to make use of the changes, others will continue to practice social distancing and refrain from going out just yet. There is also a concern among business owners that for those who do choose to go out and socialise, the atmosphere won’t be as casual as before, for the same reason that many patrons will still be cautious about the virus.
So, there’s no doubt that the hospitality industry is facing a hard road ahead. It won’t be until the world is confident in our collective efforts until the hospitality industry can recover. But for now, hospitality business owners as well as customers can enjoy the first stage in going back to normal.
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