Hospitality Industry may bring its own downfall

The globe is going crazy with the Coronavirus (COVID-19). My parents were only young kids in the great depression of the 1930s, so they didn’t have many stories to tell me. I started working in Australia in the mid-1980s, and I have seen several downturns, most notably in the late 1980s.

I have worked through the last recession in Australia, the Global Financial Crisis, and also SARS, actually going into China to work for a client being there when the crisis was over in China.

I had hoped that a number of the health crisis in recent times, and that the GFC would still close enough a memory for organisations and people to think more rationally, but unfortunately, I, like many, have been proved wrong.

I don’t want to focus toilet paper, beachgoers at Bondi Beach, but rather the hospitality industry in Australia and how I don’t think they are doing themselves or the community a service at the moment.

I have not entirely self-isolated, and knowing how the current situation is playing out for myself, I wanted to go where I could support my local hospitality industry, both in the city of Sydney and my local residential area.

Unfortunately, it hasn’t been good, some examples:

1) My local pizza restaurant chain last weekend (14 March). Apart from ordering mistakes that were related to food allergies, the biggest problem was the way they allocated tables. When we arrived there was only one other table in use, and we were able to select any table we liked. So we chose one in the same section but a distance away from the other guests.

The restaurant has three distinct zones, and as the lunch period went on, all new arrivals were funnelled into the same section. With two-thirds of the restaurant empty, they kept adding new guests into the one section all sitting near each other. They failed in creating social separation.

2) On Thursday evening I went to my local hotel for dinner. Checked the signs on the door (don’t come in if sick etc.), after that little else seemed to be in place. No extra spacing of tables, leading so many time people being well within the social distancing recommendations. Again this venue didn’t manage food allergy requirements (which they are usually quite good at).

3) I decided to spend Friday day in the office and meeting some clients (safely). I visited my local coffee shop and found that they were still accepting reusable cups with their machines. I went back at lunchtime and once again no reduction in table spacing, so recommended social separation not available.

4) Saturday, after my pilates class (with lots of thorough cleaning being visible), I went to my local cafe, which only opened earlier this year. It seemed to me they had thought about spacing, setting some benches up for families. However, I don’t know if there was a dance class held in a hall nearby, but all of a sudden the cafe was full of families with kids everywhere, and the owners did absolutely nothing about managing the number of people in the cafe (given the latest rules around the number of people per square metre). They also continued to accept personal re-use cups, which in this environment, I am not sure is acceptable.

So my conclusion, the hospitality industry in Australian has not been taking COVID-19 seriously enough. I suspect that small local operators don’t have the risk management expertise, and that is where the industry bodies come into focus.

Have the industry bodies been doing enough working with governments and their members on safe practices to keep their industry alive?

Based on my experience of the last week, unfortunately, it seems to me that the hotels and restaurants/cafes have not been taking COVID-19 seriously.

This is all very unfortunate, I have tried to do my bit, but I am not sure the sector has done enough to justify them being allowed to remain open as more pressure on social segregation continues.

(originally published

Business leader, LGBTIQ Advocate, Gay, Christian, Author, Occasional Blogger, Father, Traveller

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