Fast-food restaurants say unworkable COVID-safe rules are preventing them from reopening their dine-in areas.  But the government says the rules will stay.
Fast-food restaurants say unworkable COVID-safe rules are preventing them from reopening their dine-in areas. But the government says the rules will stay.

Fast-food farce: Restaurants say COVID-safe rules unworkable

FAST food stores say they can't reopen their dine-in restaurants and get people back at work while the Palaszczuk Government insists on risky rules requiring their young workers to act as COVID-safe enforcers.

The Franchise Council of Australia, who represents 1500 restaurants, from McDonalds, Hungry Jacks, Subway and Red Rooster to small, family takeaway stores, say making them collect diners' personal details will invite angry confrontation with customers, risk privacy breaches and stop businesses opening back up.

They question how teenage fast food workers will handle customers who refuse to give details or leave, who blatantly lie about their names and how they'll safely store those personal details.

Fast food restaurants say they can’t reopen under the Palaszczuk Government’s “unfair” COVID rules.
Fast food restaurants say they can’t reopen under the Palaszczuk Government’s “unfair” COVID rules.

It's understood a consortium of representatives have raised their issues, but have described the Palaszczuk Government as "immovable".

"We understand it's well intentioned but it is a bridge too far and at the moment it's going to stop people from moving to that path to recovery when jobs and businesses are at a really critical and vulnerable point," Franchise Council of Australia chief executive Mary Aldred said.

McDonalds describes the policy as "particularly challenging" and the chain hasn't yet opened any of its 250-odd Queensland stores under it.

Director of corporate relations James Rickards said McDonald's believed "all cafes and quick-service restaurants will face significant challenges" to collect and securely store the information, particularly considering the high and fast turnover of customers.

All McDonald’s dining areas remain closed in Queensland, despite being allowed to reopen.
All McDonald’s dining areas remain closed in Queensland, despite being allowed to reopen.

Brisbane Subway franchise owner Damian Culpeper said the requirements weren't practical and should be handled by the COVID-Safe app.

"As a business owner, collecting customer contact information is an additional regulatory burden that I don't need and I know my customers would prefer it is managed by government," he said.

"Let's allow businesses to focus on rebuilding and doing what they do best - and allow the government to manage contact tracing."

Ms Aldred said a lot of family franchises were struggling to keep their head above water and cope with the "growing red tape requirements around reopening".

"We want to give every small business a crack at reopening under fair and reasonable guidelines and every employee a chance to return to their job in a safe environment and this just undermines a lot of good work that's been built on to date," she said.

"Some small business will just choose not to reopen dining, which will in turn have an impact on jobs."

A Queensland Health spokeswoman said training to comply with requirements was available.

"Businesses who are unable, or consider it unviable, to operate under the stage 2 conditions are still able to continue to provide services under the current stage 1 restrictions - for example home delivery and takeaway services," she said.

Originally published as Fast-food farce: Restaurants say COVID-safe rules unworkable


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