Sydney’s Momento Hospitality swiftly implemented face masks for all staff at its venues after the NSW Government earlier this week strongly recommended that hospitality venues use them as an additional health and safety measure.

On Monday, Premier Gladys Berejiklian strongly recommended that hospitality staff used face masks when working.

“If you are a staff member or you are in an organisation or an enterprise that is customer facing, we would like to see you wearing a mask. These are recommendations to keep all of us safe and they’re recommendations to make sure we keep New South Wales in the position we are in.”

Momento Hospitality were swift in implementing the practice across its venues – including Bella Vista Hotel, Mullane’s Hotel and The Governor – as soon as the recommendation was made.

“Once the government recommend it, we decided we should do it. I think in this environment we all need to do whatever we can to help stop any potential spread of the virus. The government is trying their best at the moment to allow us to stay open and to trade and if this helps then we feel we should do our bit on top of the mandated COVID-Safe initiatives,” explained CEO Marcello Colosimo.

While there were indeed internal debates about customer perception and workability, Colosimo said it was the right way forward for the group in helping decrease the risk of community transmission. The wearing of masks is now compulsory for staff in all of Momento Hospitality’s venues. The group is supplying staff with them, and is in the process of getting branded masks made up. While it has only been a few days, the practice has been well received by patrons.

“Customer response has been very good for the majority. Customers have been very supportive of all the measures we have taken and it has become more of business as usual.”

Venue trading

More generally, trade – and particularly F&B – at the group’s venues is still being impacted by the restrictions, and a growing unease within the general public.

“Not only are less customers allowed at the venues, but [there’s] also a general feeling of customer fear based on what is happening in Victoria,” states Colosimo.

“This is highlighted by the restrictions on usual trade for things such as entertainment and groups congregating, but all in all we are glad to be open and serving, and I congratulate the Government on this with JobKeeper essential during this time.”

In a bid to create supplementary income, Momento Hospitality started a few initiatives during the 23 March national lockdown, including the Essentials @ Bella drive-through store for groceries, alcohol and pre-made meals; as well as the Food Truck Express – a drive-through food-truck market that operated on the weekends. These initiatives are still operational while on-premise trade is still restricted by social distancing requirements.

“The new initiatives we have implemented are still doing well and we have kept them going since we have reopened. While not as busy as during lockdown they are ideas that can grow in this new environment.”

Vanessa Cavasinni

Vanessa Cavasinni is the managing editor of Australian Hotelier and Club Management, trade publications for the pub and club sectors respectively. Vanessa has been at the helm of Australian Hotelier since...

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