Lack of consistency frustrates

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    At a distance: Invercargill's The Batch Cafe co-owner Gareth Hamilton is frustrated with the lack of consistency across the hospitality industry when it comes to Covid-19 regulations. PHOTO: ABBEY PALMER

    SOME Southland hospitality businesses have raised concerns over the lack of consistency across the industry when it comes to Covid-19 Alert Level 3 guidelines.

    The Batch Cafe in Invercargill had been operating since Alert Level 3 came into action, under strict guidelines from the Government.

    This included a requirement to provide a contactless service and manage orders through contact tracing.

    Co-owner Gareth Hamilton said the cafe had been taking orders via the Regulr app, as well as by phone, recording names, emails and contact numbers at purchase.

    “We can provide takeaway coffee and a limited menu of food without patrons entering the building at all.”

    “The legislation is basically no contact at all, but it appears some people in the industry are not adhering to that.”

    –Batch Cafe co-owner

    Gareth Hamilton

    To maintain social distancing practices, orders were passed through the shop window on to a table for customers to collect themselves, and cones had been placed in the outside queue so customers could honour two-metre spacing.

    Mr Hamilton said he was “frustrated” other hospitality businesses in the region, such as fast food outlets or petrol stations, were not trading under the same regulations.

    Local fast food franchises appeared to be serving people through drive-through windows, almost in a “business as usual” manner, and coffee could be ordered in-store at some petrol stations, he said.

    “The legislation is basically no contact at all, but it appears some people in the industry are not adhering to that.

    “Maybe they’re taking number plates or something but I’m unsure how they’re tracing people.”

    He said there did not appear to be a “level playing field” across the industry.

    The Auction House had also implemented similar practices, and staff were also feeling disappointed.

    Manager Santana Kawe said while staff at the cafe were remaining positive, it was “a bit annoying” there was not one rule for all.

    “I’m sure they’re just doing their best, but who’s out there monitoring it all?”

    He was concerned about how the business would cope on days when the weather was too rough for people to wait outside, while drive-throughs and businesses taking in-store purchases would not have to worry.

    Black Shag owners Dion Milanesi and Sylvie Chasteau agreed it “didn’t seem fair”.

    Mr Milanesi said the ordering process, which they were also using an app for, as well as contact tracing, had slowed business down “massively”.

    “We went through the McDonald’s drive-through to see how they were operating and they didn’t take our details or anything.

    “I mean we’re all doing food service, so it doesn’t make sense some places aren’t doing what we are.”

    If Covid-19 was to be spread at a fast food outlet or petrol station, it would have a much more significant impact than if it were to spread at a cafe, he said.

    “They’re having hundreds of people coming through a day, whereas we’re only dealing with 50 to 100 customers a day [during limited opening hours].”

    A BP oil spokesman said the safety of its customers and team members continued to be of “utmost priority”, as well as maintaining safe and compliant operations.

    “We are operating to the fullest extent possible during each level of the Covid-19 Alert system, while also maintaining measures to protect both our customers and team members,” he said.

    The company was “encouraging” the use of the BP app to order coffees and food.

    A McDonald’s spokesman said the guidelines set by the Government “impacted different businesses in different ways”.

    He said there were also differences in the way fast food chains operated and how they were designed.

    “We developed our plan to operate under Alert Level 3 conditions in consultation with official Government agencies and the advice provided publicly.

    “Our operating plans and risk assessment were reviewed and had third party guidance.”

    Further enhancements to service procedures had been made since reopening, including managing payments and how food was handed to customers in the drive-through or if a car was parked, he said.

    All forms of usual payment were being accepted.

    However, it was not the same case for fast food outlet KFC.

    A Restaurant Brands New Zealand spokeswoman said KFC franchises were following Government and Ministry of Health Guidelines, and were not accepting cash as payment.

    However, there was “no requirement” to take part in contact tracing, she said.

    “At drive-through we are following the current Government and Ministry of Health guidelines; but we are committed to reviewing, learning and quickly implementing beneficial changes to our Covid-19 operating processes,” the spokeswoman said.

    “We did test a shelf in the drive-through of two KFC stores last week. These are now in manufacture and are due to be rolled out nationwide, from next week.

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