BATTLING ON: Barista Kat Nichols of Gympie's Soma Soma restaurant was calmly carrying on in the face of coronavirus yesterday, but both she and her boss, Sandra Phoenix are looking forward to people dining in as soon as possible.
BATTLING ON: Barista Kat Nichols of Gympie's Soma Soma restaurant was calmly carrying on in the face of coronavirus yesterday, but both she and her boss, Sandra Phoenix are looking forward to people dining in as soon as possible.

Coronavirus Gympie: Countdown on until dining out decision

GYMPIE restaurant and cafe owners, along with their staff and frustrated customers are hoping for good news, possibly on Friday, about a return to the days of dining out.

But the venues will be very different places in the post COVID-19 new age, according to social distancing requirements known to be on the negotiating table.

No bar service, no seafood platters (or any other shared plate dishes), no menus on tables for diners to pick up and no buffet meals.

Other stories:

Gympie responds to news students to head back to school

REVEALED: Target date for restaurants, cafes to reopen

It is understood these are among proposals raised with the federal government and expected to be discussed at Friday's "'National Cabinet' meeting.

Although the Restaurant and Catering Industry Association says it cannot comment while it is negotiating with the government, it has confirmed that negotiations are taking place and has previously outlined some of the changes it proposes.

The "new normal" would also include limits on patron numbers, continued social distancing and a high limit on "pay wave" transactions so customers will not have to touch keys on card machines or handle money.

So far there have already been encouraging noises from George St and Canberra as the industry proposes strict new conditions which representatives say would ease any risk.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has already announced a staged rollout for reopening schools and set a hopeful target of getting cafes and restaurants back into business some time next month.

It all depends on continuing good news as the spread of coronavirus slows in response to lockdown and social distancing regulations.

Soma Soma owner Sandra Phoenix said she had managed to stay open, selling takeaway food and coffee, but keeping doors open and a "core of staff" on the job had been a strain in the absence of sit-down dining.

And the paperwork involved in Jobkeeper payment compliance was substantial, she said.

"I've just spent the morning doing my payroll and Jobkeeper stuff, which you have to do although none of that has come through yet.

"The information we're getting is very murky, but we're doing our best to keep the core of our staff team operational.

"It's a waiting game," she said.

"It's been an entire month of drastically reduced trading for restaurants, with the requirement to keep paying staff on the promise that this will be reimbursed.

"We're hoping the promises are good because we're just bouncing along the bottom at the moment.

"You have to prove you've had a 30 per cent drop in turnover.

"We dropped 93 per cent in the first week and now we're operating at about 70 per cent below normal," she said.

At Mary St hotel, the Queenslander, owner Allan Roberts said he thought the pub side of the operation would not be reopening for months, but he was using the downtime to renovate and operating a bare bones bottle shop and takeaway delivery service.

Gympie Times


Mother drowns while swimming with daughter at beach

Premium Content Mother drowns while swimming with daughter at beach

A police Sergeant has revealed the “tragic” circumstances surrounding the death of...

Rainbow Beach project expected to be approved

Premium Content Rainbow Beach project expected to be approved

The proposal attracted more than a dozen complaints when it was opened up for...