Australia is slowly re-opening again, and so is your Club. People are back in restaurants, clubs and pubs. We re-opened last week after a two and half month lockdown and what an emotional rollercoaster it has been.
It all started when the Australian Government announced new measures to protect Australian’s from COVID-19 such as a limit of no more than 100 people for non-essential indoor gatherings and one-person per four-square meters was implemented in March. Within a day, the management team modified the layout of the venue to adhere to the new regulations, implemented new strict cleaning procedures and social distancing rules. Meanwhile, our team informed, assisted and supported our staff throughout those uncertain times by holding several important staff meetings to ensure our people were provided all the necessary information.
On Sunday 22nd March, the Australian Government announced that clubs were to close on Monday 23rd March at midday. After nearly 99 years of service, it was the first time that our club had to close its doors for an indefinite time. Everyone was scared, upset and uncertain, however we all understood it was for the wellbeing of our people and our country. Within days of the forced closure, we decided that the main priority was to stay connected with our members, guests and staff by writing a weekly newsletter where we shared our recipes and stories. We introduced weekly SMS messages and virtual catch ups with the team fortnightly so everyone could ask any questions or share their lockdown stories. Staying connected was our primary concern to support each other during those uncertain times. It is what we do; we are a community who look after each other at any time and during all circumstances.
It all happened rather more swiftly than we had anticipated. For weeks, there had been no official word on when we would be able to serve members and guests in-house again. And then, on 6th May, the NSW government announced that restaurants, clubs and pubs could open again… from the 15th May. However, it was not sustainable for us to open the doors for only ten people per dining area.
Again, on the 22nd May, the NSW government announced that restaurants could welcome 50 people per dining area from the 1st June. A rather short notice period, however embraced. We were elated – after all, serving members and guests is what we love to do, and working behind closed doors is just not the same.
This set the upbeat tone for our re-opening. After nine weeks, all of us were looking forward to that first service opportunity. And we knew our members and guests were excited, too.
So, with all of us together at one table, finally winding down after two days of frantic preparation, our CEO, Gerard Robinson took the opportunity to ask our team what they felt were the major challenges for the re-opening. We agreed that over the previous few days, we had managed to iron out most of the apparent issues around social distancing, strict cleaning procedures, trading hours and layout of the rooms.
Yes, things would be different, and we would be working with fewer staff and offering fewer activities and promotions. The Club was open, and our staff, management, directors and members were rapt to be back.
For our catering team, figuring out the seating plans in accordance with distance regulations had felt a little like playing Tetris, but they are talented and worked it out. We figured those small things would come up here and there. Above all, we worried that having only 50 people per dining area would leave our members, guests and us feeling a little rushed. Still, we were confident of delivering excellent service in a great atmosphere.
We have already mentioned how we love hosting people at the Club, and we think that it is true for many in our profession. We thrive on the energy, our community, and the conversations. To us, it is about coming together to share an experience, and that is the spirit we bring to our Club, which is why our reception staff were so surprised to find themselves in a few situations over our first week. They always take the time to discuss or hug our members tightly, however, since social distancing and capacity rules, they are not allowed to perform what they are famous for; their friendly chats and super hugs. However, we have been sure to apply the safety and hygiene measures at the Club which will ensure we all remain safe. Unfortunately, we could easily face repercussions if anyone reported that we were in the habit of ignoring distancing rules. But if we want to stay open, we need our members and guests to step up, too. Not just by supporting us through your visits, but by playing your part in helping us to comply with the laws and more importantly stay healthy. We need you not to ask us to waive the rules, we need you to respect our limits, and we need you to ask questions if you have any as ultimately, we are in this together.
This will mean the government can ease restrictions sooner, while looking out for our community. Stay safe!!