One of the greatest days in the history of New Zealand’s appetite occurred on Tuesday April 28 2020, when Level 4 COVID 19 lockdown restrictions shifted to Level 3, allowing many hospitality operators and fast food chains to get up and running.
Fast food connoisseurs created traffic jams at local McDonald’s, KFC stores and burger outlets, queuing long before opening times in some regions and unfazed by 45 minute minimum wait times in others.
Social media users across the country have shared pictures online of the massive queues stretching out the driveway of their local fast food favourites, with long lines of cars down the road as Kiwis queue to get their Big Macs and fried chicken hits, among the choices now on offer.
McDonald’s say they have been planning since the level 4 lockdown on the reopening of 137 of their 170 outlets since last week when level 3 timing was confirmed. The franchisees, restaurant staff, suppliers and distribution partners have been working hard to get the restaurants open and the only component proving tricky to locate is the lettuce, with the fast food giant announcing on social media today that they were temporarily out of stock due to unprecedented demand.
Under alert level 3 McDonald’s operate Drive-Thru and McDelivery, and introduced a number of new procedures in line with alert level 3 guidance, to ensure the safety of customers and staff. As part of restaurant risk assessments many restaurants have traffic control plans in place.
After four weeks and five days of an imposed fast food famine, Kiwis abandoned their home baking efforts to savour the taste of forbidden fries in a joyous bid to claim some measure of control over their lives.
And it wasn’t just the fast food sector which revelled in the new found freedom. Coffee aficionados and restaurants up and down the country, who were able to adapt their businesses, offered contactless takeaways from modified menus to cheer up the nation.
Even our national hero the Director General of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield chanced his arm to get a coffee fix on his way to work!
One of those showing a little ‘Kiwi ingenuity’ is Zoom cafe in Auckland’s Green Bay, providing a much desired coffee outstretched to customers on a wooden panel to maintain social distance and limit contact.
Hibernation is – with caution – over, but the stark reality is that vigilant social distancing, safe work environments and personal hygiene practises remain imperative to avoid facing a further lockdown which will then determine our meal choices once again.