Dining out in Sydney: how to plan for a safe and fun time

Tips to help you as you return to your favourite cafe or restaurant - or try something new! - that will help keep you and our communities safe.

Restaurants and cafes are thrilled to have customers back through the door. But dining out now looks a bit different.

It’s extremely challenging for owners and employees to maintain good hygiene and safety, and monitor customer behaviour, all while providing their diners with a good experience.

But there are many things you can do to help support businesses and protect yourself and others.

But first things first when you’re prepping to go out - take hand sanitiser, practice good hygiene and physical distancing, and don’t go out if you’re feeling unwell. Even if you have only mild symptoms you need to go get tested.

Make a plan and book a spot

The days where you could decide to go out for dinner or drinks at the last minute and typically still nab a table are largely gone.

To help ensure you get a seat, make a booking, particularly from Fridays to Sundays. The alternative is that you might have to queue for an indeterminate period or be turned away altogether.

With restrictions on overall capacity, you’ll find many restaurants with no prior reservation system now request people book a place.

Some venue opening times have also changed and this might not be reflected on their Google Business listing. You might need to call, look at their social media channels or website to check.

Securing your booking

The venue may also ask you to pay a deposit or for your credit card details to secure a table. You may even have to pay in advance.

Please try not to be affronted or offended by this.

Restaurants are doing their best to stay afloat in difficult circumstances. Booking and paying a deposit can make a big difference in helping a business survive.

Despite some restrictions easing, many venues are still running at reduced capacity under public health orders. They can only have 1 customer per 4 square metres of space. For small restaurants, that means a lot fewer patrons overall.

Bookings help venues arrange adequate staffing and food, and avoid waste.

It’s also more important than ever to honour your reservation. If you can’t make it, call to let them know. Fully booked restaurants probably have a waitlist so they can fill the table if you don’t come.

Social distancing measures in place at Dulcie's Kings Cross

Dining in? You must sign in

You’ll be asked to provide your contact details if you’re dining in.

And this isn’t optional or for marketing purposes - it’s the law.

Cafes and restaurants are required under public health orders to keep the contact details offor all dine-in customers for at least 28 days. For groups, only 1 person's name is needed. Records are only used for tracing Covid-19 infections and are stored confidentially and securely.

If you can’t immediately see how to sign in, ask an employee about it.

It’s important that records at venues are accurate for quick contact tracing in case of a positive Covid-19 case. Everyone needs to play their part in making sure records are correct.

Signing in with a QR code

QR codes have been around for years, but the Covid-19 pandemic has seen them become more common. They look like a pixelated barcode.

Many venues use them to capture customer details or share menus. If you’ve never used one before, your smartphone can read the code.

For iPhone users with newer software, a special app isn’t required. An iPhone running iOS 11 or later has an in-built QR code reader. Just open up your phone camera app, point it at the code and your device will prompt you with what to do next.

If you have an older model iPhone or an Android phone, you’ll need to download a third-party app. Search your app store for a QR code reader. There are free ones available.

The venue can provide advice for signing in if you don’t have a smartphone.

Had a good time? Consider leaving a positive review

How often do you leave a positive Google review for a business when you have had a great experience? Many people are only motivated to leave a review when they have a gripe or the business has prompted them. This means the reviews on Google might not adequately represent how loved a venue really is.

If you want to help Sydney’s dining scene, share your amazing experience with the world.

If you didn’t have a great time, think about whether you need to air it publicly.

If you have a grievance about service, the best path is to talk to the manager before you go sharing on the internet.

Negative reviews or low star ratings can break a business. As businesses are working to adapt and incorporate new protocols and hygiene routines, it counts to be kind.

The Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Food website has paused scoring reviews in a gesture of support for hospitality businesses during this time.

Covid-19 safety plans

You need to develop a Covid-19 safety plan if you’re running a café or restaurant. There is an existing plan or you can create your own.

If you've completed and downloaded your safety plan, you can register your business as Covid safe.

Posted . Last updated .

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