Comensa Group (owners of Cafe Hanoi and Xuxu Dumpling Bar in Britomart and Saan in Ponsonby) has proactively implemented a strict mask-wearing policy for all customer-facing staff, as well as random testing for COVID-19, even though Auckland is at Level One.
The Auckland company, which employs 65 staff, is taking its responsibilities for the health and safety of its customers seriously, says co-owner Krishna Botica. “We consulted with our whole team around this and the overwhelming response was so positive. Mask-wearing will be mandatory for staff, while testing will be voluntary, but we anticipate a high percentage of our team will be fully on board to participate. Hospitality workers are at the front line, dealing with so many customers from all over the country, so this is the right thing to do.”
Comensa had hoped that the Government would mandate mask-wearing in the hospitality sector. When it didn’t, Botica and her partner Tony McGeorge decided to take matters into their own hands.
“We hope that other restaurant owners will jump on board to support this,” says Botica, who is also the president of the Auckland chapter of the Restaurant Association.
“It has been a really tough time for the hospitality industry and we need to band together to help increase the safety and confidence of diners and get people back in through the doors. If we don’t do something and we go back to Level 3 again, we will see more of those restaurant doors shutting for good.”
Ten percent of Comensa Group’s front of house team will be asked to undertake testing for Covid-19 on a three-weekly basis. The frequency of tests will increase at the various alert levels, with weekly testing at Level 3 and fortnightly at Levels 2 and 2.5. (As front line workers, the Ministry of Health has specified that Hospitality industry staff may take asymptomatic tests, whilst the general advice for the public is to refrain from testing unless symptoms are present.) There is no fixed timeframe for these policies to be in place in the three restaurants, but Botica and McGeorge plan to review them on a monthly basis.
It’s important to note that mask-wearing is not required by diners at the establishments, though hand sanitiser will be available, and the required QR codes and contact tracing procedures will be in place.