Food courts in shopping centres across NSW are set to re-open as further COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. The decision announced today by the NSW Government to reopen shopping centre food courts to a limited number of people from Saturday 13 June, marks another important milestone on the road to recovery in a COVIDSafe economy.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian confirmed food courts could open again as long as they followed social distancing and hygiene rules.
Guided by the latest health advice, food courts will now be able to accommodate up to 50 people seated per separate eating area at any one time, contingent on the ability to meet the four square metre rule and 1.5m physical distancing requirement.
SCCA members will also apply a new COVID-19 Safety Plan and Protocol for Shopping Centre Food Courts released today to ensure a clean, hygienic and safe food court environment for all stakeholders.
This new Food Court Safety Plan and Protocol supports comprehensive measures already in place across the nation’s shopping centres as part of an industry Retail Recovery Protocol, which was publicly released on 1 May, including making hand sanitiser readily available, the encouragement of physical distancing measures and frequent cleaning of hard services.
Angus Nardi, SCCA Executive Director said: “Today’s decision to re-open NSW food courts from Saturday is a welcome step for business owners, employees and customers who are feeling more confident to go about their daily activities including visiting shopping centres and food courts.”
“We welcome the Government’s commitment to getting people back into jobs safely, and our industry is committed to providing clean and safe environments in line with necessary public health guidelines, and working closely with food retailers to boost trade and economic activity”.
“We ask customers to be patient and apply commonsense when they visit food courts from Saturday as the practising of physical distancing is a shared responsibility”.
There are more than 400 food courts within Australian shopping centres, and the national average shopping centre food court has about 11 food outlets and 330 seats.
The Safety Plan and Protocol provides 10 key actions that should be taken, however does not substitute legislative responsibilities. Further guidance should be taken from National Cabinet decisions, public health authorities and workplace health and safety authorities.
Key actions will be different at each shopping centre food court, noting that each shopping centre, food court, and adjacent food businesses are different, including issues such as location (where a food court is in the middle of a circulation area or at the edge of a shopping centre), operating hours, size, layout and configuration (e.g. dividers, multi-level), open-air / enclosed spaces, customer access points, co-location with other uses such as cinemas and entertainment precincts.
The community transmission of COVID-19 has flatlined over the past two weeks in NSW, with all new cases identified within hotel quarantine.