A sense of cautious optimism was in the air at Geronimo Apertivo Bar and Restaurant in Launceston on Friday when Small Business Minister Sarah Courtney paid a visit.
Like most similar venues, Geronimo was forced to close in March because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Coronavirus: All the latest updates on COVID-19 for Tasmania
Owner Jeremy Kode said to cope with the massive downturn in patronage, the business delivered food and drinks to customers and offered a takeaway service. The front of the restaurant was also transformed into a bottle shop.
"We're very excited that we can operate again," Mr Kode said ahead of a lifting of restrictions on restaurants and and cafes due to come into effect on Monday.
While only 10 people would be allowed to dine within a minimum 40 square metres of floor space, Mr Kode (pictured) said the rule change was a positive development.
He has completed a COVID-19 safety plan for his business and spent much of Friday rearranging furniture to comply with the new rules.
"It didn't take too long, a lot of the measures we already had in place," Mr Kode said.
IN OTHER NEWS:
Ms Courtney said while it was good to see businesses reopening, a staged approach that balanced economic and public health interests was essential.
"It's very pleasing for businesses such as Geronimo, that they're able to start seating patrons again but I'm very cognisant that there are a lot of businesses that are still closed, particularly some of our bigger venues," Ms Courtney said.
"I appreciate the hardship that they're undergoing at the moment, the government's working to help those businesses that haven't been able to reopen yet."
Ms Courtney urged businesses who wanted to reopen to reach out for support.
"We know that it's a really confusing time and that this is a different way of operating for many businesses.The team at Business Tas are there ready to help people via a dedicated hotline which can be reached on 1800 440 026."
People must keep following social distancing, hand washing and gathering guidelines when restrictions are lifted, Ms Courtney said.
Tasmania's new rules from May 18
For a single business with a large premises that may have multiple dining rooms - like upstairs and downstairs, or separate rooms on one level, or an indoor and separate out area - the following rules apply:
- Each premises/single business may have no more than two separate dining areas of 10 seated patrons.
- Each setting where dining occurs must not have a density of seated patrons greater than 1 per 4 square metres. To seat 10 patrons the area must be a minimum of 40 square metres. (1 person per 4 square metres average applying). If the dining area is smaller than 40 square metres, a lower number of patrons will only be allowed.
- Multiple timed settings are permitted as long as at any point in time the seated patrons rules apply.
- Food must be consumed by each patron. It is not alcohol service only.
- In this instance, these dining areas will ideally have separate entry/exits points. If they don't, the venue must take steps to minimise opportunities for people to mix whilst waiting for a table (for example, there can be no waiting lobby and social distancing rules apply to any queuing). This could include staged arrivals for bookings.
- Contact details for the person making the booking must be kept if future contact tracing is needed.
- Each dining area must have separate wait staff.
- There is no requirement for separate kitchens or toilets per dining area. However, appropriate cleaning must be scheduled and undertaken.
For multiple business/separate premises on the one site:
- Where there are multiple discrete restaurant/cafes (separate businesses) on large sites - each with separate dining spaces, kitchens and toilets - operating largely independently - each can operate as a separate restaurant, with either one dining area of 10 or if there are separate dining areas within the one restaurant, no more than two separate dining areas of 10 people and all other rules applying. Each setting where dining occurs must not have a density of seated patrons greater than 1 per 4 square metres.