As of Monday October 11th, fully vaccinated NSW residents are able to host up to 10 visitors at their homes, visit their favourite bars and restaurants, and finally get a bloody haircut. While the relaxation of rules does mean that many businesses can move towards operating at their former glory, these next few months are also going to be an uncertain time for many.
‘Reopening anxiety’ is a well-documented phenomenon amongst frontline staff and customers alike, a stress associated with people’s uncertainty around social situations and our learned behaviour in said situations. After over 100 days with nothing but our four walls to occupy us, it’s a fair enough reaction too; for instance hospitality and retail staff may be worried about unvaccinated patrons attempting to visit businesses with their friends, while younger Sydneysiders may be faced with their first legal trip to the pub after finishing school and turning 18 in lockdown.
Basically, we’re all going to be feeling a little weird. At a time like this it’s important to be empathetic to those around you, and to remember that their checklist of reopening anxieties may be very different to yours.
Various pubs around Sydney have an unofficial – or in some cases, official – ‘no dickheads’ policy. That is, if you make anyone in the venue feel unsafe through your behaviour, they have a right to show you the door.
Without the usual opportunities to let loose around NSW, a lot of us are wound up pretty tight. If you’re amongst the many who’ve booked in a comeback 20-person get together at your favourite pub to celebrate Freedom Day, spare a little more thought than usual for those pouring your drinks or cooking your meals.
Many hospitality workers have been in limbo during this lockdown, with job uncertainty, the need for new systems to cater to higher delivery numbers, and short staffing being some of the most common problems in the industry. Add to that the increased pressure of checking for proof of vaccination and keeping patron numbers in check – both responsibilities the NSW parliament has laid directly on businesses – and you have a situation that needs a bit of extra care than usual.
The same goes for retail and other frontline establishments such as gyms, pools, and more. Be aware of each other’s situations, be safe, and act in accordance with the rules laid out by each business you choose to spend your time at.
As we mentioned, NSW is heaving pretty much all of the responsibility onto businesses to follow the new rules – rules which can be confusing at the best of times. So the absolute worst thing you can do is put pressure on businesses that already may be struggling and asking them to bend the rules.
Don’t bring an extra person to your 20-person booking on the day, in the hopes that it’ll be allowed. If you have a mate playing their first show in a month, try to head along along! Be there to support them, but also don’t make it the venue’s problem if they’re booked out.
Councils are doing their part too – drinking in 18 parks including the MCA Lawn or Pyrmont’s Cadi Park is temporarily legal, while here in the Inner West Council, members have put through a successful campaign bringing public toilets to the more popular picnic parks in the area. Many councils including the City of Sydney have also increased the frequency of street cleaning to accomodate the foot traffic. Again, what this means is that some of our representatives are going out of their way to ease this transition – now you just need to uphold your end of the bargain.
For those who may be experiencing some FOMO at the thought of their mates getting together in a park, remember that most businesses will continue their awesome delivery or other COVID-safe initiatives throughout this short period of partial freedom.
And if you’re still feeling a little unsafe about getting together with a few mates, that’s completely valid. The health advice still states that outdoor situations see a far lower level of transmission than indoor, poorly ventilated areas, meaning parks, beer gardens, and rooftop bars are all something you can consider.
A stone’s throw from Happy Mag, The Bank Hotel in Newtown has a gorgeous outdoor setting hidden away at the back of the pub. We’ll be checking in shortly, and hope to see you there – or anywhere else – soon enough.