Meraki Whitsundays Marshall Taylor and Tara Taylor said they “would take what they could get” with business slowing picking as COVID-19 restrictions ease.
Meraki Whitsundays Marshall Taylor and Tara Taylor said they “would take what they could get” with business slowing picking as COVID-19 restrictions ease.

Easing restrictions ‘not a saving grace’ for businesses

THE FIRST stage of easing restrictions have allowed some Bowen cafe's to welcome diners back through their doors, however it isn't the "saving grace" some may have thought.

The eased restrictions mean restaurants and cafes are able to seat up to 10 diners, however with many businesses operating with fewer staff, the increased hygiene demands of COVID-19 are making it tough.

Tara Taylor, the manager of Bowen's Meraki Whitsundays Cafe said they were only allowed eight patrons, due to the size of the store.

Mrs Taylor said they had to adapt to doing things differently, with limited staff and increased hygiene requirements meaning cutlery and crockery were, literally not on the table.

"Everything is still served in takeaway containers to keep our customers and staff safe, but also because it's not viable to put on extra staff to do the dishes when you're already flat out cleaning tables between customers," she said.

"With an actual full restaurant, it's just not worth going back to normal trading for ten people."

Mrs Taylor said because of their location near Woolworths, the lifting of restrictions allowed them to offer shoppers a place to sit and grab a quick bite, offering a boost to numbers which was better than nothing.

"We're only allowed eight people because of our size, and even when the next stage comes out and other businesses can have twenty, we'll still only be allowed eight," she said.

"Overall it's an improvement, we are at the better end of things now but it's not going to save any businesses. I'm not going to lie, it's not the saving grace that everyone thinks it is.

"We'll take what we can get."

Starboard Cafe owner Sally-Ann Wright said they had attempted opening for dine-in customers, but spent the evening policing social distancing rules and decided to go back to takeaway only.

"I did try the 10 people over the weekend and it was really not much fun at all," she said.

"We had a plan but people didn't book and we had to take their names and call them when a table came free, people were milling about outside and others going in and out for takeaway. We were madly cleaning surfaces and people were touching them or sitting down at tables.

"It was all about being a policeman rather than being a cafe. It was exhausting."

Ms Wright said they had learnt their lesson and would monitor the situation and consider reopening for dine-in customers when they could open the licensed bar as well.

"It was a trial, and we know what happens now," she said.

"Right now it is a terrible amount of responsibility to put on us and our staff.

"The takeaway is working well and our cafe clients are coming in and supporting us, so we will continue with that."

Ms Wright said the positive message that had come from the last few months was the "community minded" spirit of Bowen residents.

"We've had people coming in and saying they're going to one Bowen restaurant one day and another the next," she said.

"It's really lovely that people are supporting and sharing their business around, sharing what money they do have to support us. It's very community minded."

The second stage of eased restrictions will be in place from June 12. And the third stage will be in place from July 10. For full details of the Roadmap to Easing restrictions in Queensland here.


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