By Staff Writer Alistair Gray
For the last 12 months, we’ve been living in a sleepy hollow, virtually protected from the rest of the world. The Queensland borders have been closed. The only influx of visitors we’ve seen locally have been mainly those from Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast on weekends and public holidays, lockdowns permitting.
It’s all very relaxed, and most of us live in our shorts and T-shirts all year round. Nothing phases us. There is little stress; everyone chills out and enjoys our incredible water vistas and island walks. Yes, it’s casual. Everyone is healthy and well. There is no virus here!
In a few weeks, that’s about to change; the borders will open, and the Christmas holidays are upon us. Once again, Bribie will welcome a large influx of holiday visitors. Many from all over Australia and perhaps some from the rest of the world. Yes, the holiday season will be on us as we enter three months of madness. Great for the struggling local economy.
But, are we ready for this? I’m not so sure. Our relaxed lifestyle and casual approach to life can be our biggest enemy as we re-open to the world. Have we forgotten to regularly hand sanitise? Do we, as a matter of course, allow that extra distance from others? Do we wear a mask when in crowded indoor areas? Do we check-in everywhere, or do we tend to forget to do that? Till now, border closures have protected us, but no more.
Bribie / Beachmere has an 87.6% double vaccination rate, with first vaccinations over 95% (according to Australian Government - SA3 - Geographic Vaccination Rates 29 November 2021), well above the current state average 76%. But, sadly, vaccination rates alone will not protect us, and in the new world, it will be personal responsibility and common sense that will ensure we are all safe.
Despite all this, are our hospitality venues ready? Our licensed clubs and pubs have tended to set the benchmark for the area, with high standards set by the Bribie Island RSL and the Sandstone Point Hotel. The Bribie Hotel re-opens this week with new décor and menus, just in time for the holiday rush.
Regrettably, when I look at our cafés and small restaurants, I’m not sure they are ready. But, with one notable exception, Café 191 at the Bribie Island Community Arts Centre, whose attention to detail, Covid management, cleanliness, food quality and service stand out. For others, I see tiredness. Some venues are plain grubby. Some menus are well past their use-by dates, many plain dirty, food-stained and with wrinkled pages. Tabletops are, in some cases, not fit to eat off. Floors are black and need pressure cleaning. Signage needs updating, and venues need modernising.
Is this the welcome we want to give visitors to Bribie? Cafés and restaurants are very much in the food and hospitality business. As such, this means freshness, cleanliness, being Covid-safe, welcoming, friendliness, creating memories and being unique. For too long, we have accepted the status quo. Now is the time to lift our game. Stand back. Look at your business, whether in hospitality or retail, as if you were a customer visiting for the first time. What do you see? Is it fresh and inviting? Would you bring your friends here?
Bribie, are you ready?