While excited citizens get ready for a much needed rendezvous in the park this weekend, some question the viability of the 10 person rule for bigger businesses like pubs, clubs and restaurants.
Just yesterday, NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian announced there will be a state-wide relaxing of COVID-19 restrictions extended to clubs, and pubs. From Friday May 15, new rules will allow pubs, restaurants, and cafes to commence in-house dining for up to 10 people. The new rules will also allow outdoor gatherings for up to 10 people and 5 visitors in your home. Social distancing and regular hygiene practices are still part of the rules, as we have seen the dramatic effects of the second wave in South Korea and Singapore.
The new rules come as a welcomed change for smaller business like cafes and take away venues, as the increased patronage will surely bring in more business. Yet, for some restaurants and pubs, the new laws do not offer economic respite. Bars and gaming are still closed as part of the new rules, which affects many of larger venues.
Restaurants such as ECCO in Drummoyne, which can seat up to 125 people, will not be reopening their doors, as the 10 person rule will simply not cover overhead costs.
“Ecco operates as a club licence, it’s just not feasible for us to open. If we reopened, we would just be running at a loss.” Rob Lauro, an employee of Ecco told us in an interview today.
“It’s not worth it, to have everybody working and still running at a loss, it’s just better to stay closed.”
These concerns will be reflected in the decision of many pubs and clubs around the state choosing to stay closed. Luckily, these new rules will not affect the eligibility criteria for Job Keeper, and payments for employees will still remain in effect.
Nonetheless, venues are proving empathetic to the governments decision to roll out relaxations slowly, known a too rapid return could end up in disaster.
“We have to understand that we can’t just reopen like normal. We have to be careful, stay safe.” Rob said.
Especially after South Korea quickly reopened their night clubs, and is now seeing an drastic surge of the virus in its second wave.
Smaller venues, like Flood St Carousel in Sydney’s Inner West, will be testing out the new laws this Saturday with heightened precaution.
“It will be unpredictable for sure. We are not sure if it’s going to be busy or quiet. We don’t want to take bookings, because the timing would have to be exact.” The owner of Flood St Carousel, Cal Jiang, said in an interview today.
“We don’t want people waiting in line outside, so we will just wait and see.”
Cal is optimistic about the new changes, believing it will definitely bring in more revenue.
“We do know people who already want to come in.”
“It’ll be good for sure. For us it’s fine, we were already doing take away, so we can just open seating. So for us, it’s good” Cal said.
This positive sentiment is echoed by NSW officials, with Deputy Premier John Barilaro commending it as a “boost” for the economy.
“It’s been a tough few months but we are starting to see some wins, first on the health front and now in getting the economy back, and this is welcome news for many regional towns.”
Regional towns have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 restrictions, as many towns rely on tourism and hospitality for jobs. These new laws will provide a small, but needed step towards rebuilding their economic infrastructure.
John Green, Director of Liquor & Gaming NSW, further commends the laws, and argues them as a “win for common sense.”
“For our members, they were frustrated and they were confused by the decision this week but what’s occurred is they see it as a win for common sense. They see it as an opportunity to open,” Mr Green said.
This move is indeed a step forward for small businesses and citizens alike. With brunch now back on the menu, we see a small hope for things slowly turning back to normal.
If you would like to check out businesses which will be extending to dining capacities, The Daily Telegraph has compiled a comprehensive list of NSW venues which will be open for trade.