We Still Gotta Eat: Survival Strategies For The Hospitality Sector In The COVID-19 Era

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Businesses, particularly in the hospitality sector, are having to adapt and change to a new reality. Rachel Kong from Marque Lawyers has a few simple tips to ensure your evolution doesn’t land you in legal trouble.

In the current climate of social distancing, our favourite restaurants, cafés and pubs are appealing to local patrons with the phrase, “The hospitality industry can’t work from home”.

Small businesses, including restaurants and cafés, will benefit from the NSW Government‘s decision to scrap some fees and charges (totalling $80 million) but that won’t change the harsh reality facing the whole sector.

With service at the core of the hospitality industry’s livelihood, these businesses are being forced to evolve and think of creative solutions to stay afloat during these challenging times.

Many restaurants and cafes are ditching dine-in and shifting entirely to contactless take-away orders, home delivery and DIY dinner packs.

Others are increasing the distance between tables and down-sizing their capacity. Even some cellar doors are offering cheese and wine deliveries.

But there are a few things for restaurateurs, café owners and publicans to keep in mind when implementing these changes, to keep themselves on the right side of the law.

  1. If you have a licence (e.g. liquor, small bar, on-premises licence), check it for any specific conditions attaching to your premises.
  2. Check your permits (e.g. local council development consent, zoning) and your lease for conditions on the permitted uses for your premises.
  3. Consider your employment obligations, especially when making any changes to staff duties and responsibilities, cutting shifts or changing hours.
  4. Remember your over-arching obligation to maintain a safe workplace.

With the spotlight focusing heavily on the hospitality industry, now is the time to have your (roast) ducks in a row.

And good luck with it all; it’s a tough time.

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Rachel Kong

Rachel King is a Senior Associate with Marque Lawyers. She has particular expertise representing the restaurant and hospitality sector.

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