A Strange New Normal


March 2020: Last week the SA Government mandated that restaurants, bars and nightclubs (all venues) serving alcohol to close from 6pm (Monday to Friday) and 1pm (Saturday and Sunday) and limit venue capacity to 50 including staff.

There is no doubt that for many of us, as business owners, we are faced with a real conundrum. To trade and keep the turnover ticking over or to close and weather out the storm. Neither are particularly inviting, both come with their own risks.


If you’ve decided to continue trading, here are some considerations to take in terms of protecting yourself, your staff and your customers.

  • Brief your staff thoroughly and daily on their safety. Many of mine, use public transport systems to get to work and are probably travelling long distances in close proximity to other commuters. This in itself puts them at serious risk.
  • Supply them with hand sanitisers for use during their commute and for use on shift. We are insisting that our staff wash and sanitise their hands every 20 minutes whilst on shift. Behind the bar, the bartenders are required to wear gloves.
  • Reduce the number of FOH staff and operate on a skeleton crew and have daily pre-shift briefings on safety and hygiene protocols and ask them to monitor each other to uphold those protocols.
  • Limit the possible “touch points” - we have removed our menus entirely, and only place condiments on tables when necessary. Anything and everything that can be touched is being sanitised repeatedly.
  • In the kitchen, both gloves and masks are now mandatory at all times – ours is an open kitchen so we want our customers to see our efforts to protect ourselves (and them)
  • We have purchased a digital ear thermometer, and are taking temperature readings of all staff before each shift.
  • We expect our Managers to set, maintain and lead by example in terms of these standards.

For our Guests…many of whom are International Tourists..

We are doing everything we can to be upfront and honest. Mostly we are visibly demonstrating our hygiene measures to make sure that our guests know that we are taking this seriously - in the hope that we can in fact provide an environment that is properly sanitised so that they can feel comfortable and relaxed – and enjoy a moment of relative normalcy.

  • We encourage all guests to sanitise before they sit down. Either by using our restrooms to wash their hands, or use our complimentary hand santisers.
  • We do not offer menus and instead now rely on the menu knowledge of the serving staff. If a guest insists on a menu, we have added our menus to our Social Media accounts for viewing on their phones.
  • We have reduced our menu offering, to streamline the operations.
  • We have switched back to paper covered straws.
  • We have removed bill folders and present the bill in glassware & encourage card payments to limit the use of cash.
  • We have covered the credit card machines using cling wrap (which we change regularly) to prevent actual contact with buttons on the device.
  • We have removed a few tables and chairs to allow for a greater distance between guests and meet the 50 people limit (including staff)
  • Guests wanting left overs are provided with the takeaway boxes at the table to “make their own”.

In reality, we could probably do more, in truth, I would rather my staff all stay at home safe and not come to work, at least while we try to get ahead of the spread of this virus.

One thing is clear. Our business has been reshaped by this outbreak.

 Steve – Managing Partner “Sunset Sessions” Camps Bay Cape Town

*Article Update: Sunset Sessions has since temporarily closed for a month.