Is F&B sabotaging itself?
Stop pulling your mask down to your chin
There’s little doubt that COVID-19 has hit service industries hard. In Hong Kong in particular, it seems that whenever there’s a surge in cases, F&B are always the first to be penalised with early closures, reduced capacity and so on.
Without wage subsidies (the government has more or less confirmed they’ve shut off that spigot), none of the businesses can afford to actually close – in order to stay afloat, and in order for people to remain employed, they have no choice but to continue to operate.
I can go on and complain about how laissez-faire governments, in the name of free markets, have handed off responsibility of the health and safety of their citizens to the private sector, but I won’t, because the even in the private sector, I’m not sure people are doing their best either.
Every time I’ve eaten out this year – since masks became compulsory – I’ve seen people in service not using masks correctly. Wearing a mask is not exactly rocket science, there are literally two rules:
A mask must cover your nose, mouth, and chin.
You shouldn’t be touching your mask, and if you have to, clean your hands before and after.
If I had a dollar for the number of times I’ve seen masks pulled down to chins when talking (seriously), masks slipping down to the bottom of the nose and constantly being pulled back up with hands that then touch a diner’s utensils, go in for a handshake, or wrapped around anything else without disinfecting in between… And get this – these are usually in higher-end establishments where people think that they’re offering superior hospitality. Hmm.
While I’m on the subject of handshakes, can I just make it clear that I’d rather not do fistbumps either? You’re still touching my hand, which I will need to wash, again. What’s wrong with waving ‘hi’?
It should be part of training at this point, things like how masks should be worn, how often to change them, how to handle them (eg. pre-fold the damn wire up at the top to stop it from slipping from your nose – THAT’S WHAT IT’S DESIGNED FOR, disinfect your hands before and after you touch your mask), waves/bows/nods instead of handshakes, politely separating larger-than-legal groups if there’s a wait/queue and organising spaces to do that – this is hospitality now. This is how you show you care about the industry. This is how you show you care about your customers. Not pulling down your mask to talk to the customer, sending droplets all over their food. I don’t know who needs to read this, but YES, WE CAN HEAR YOU THROUGH YOUR MASK.
And for f**k’s sake, why am I still hearing about large-scale holiday events? Anything of the sort is simply sabotage, a marketing stunt that puts the entire industry at risk. If the next wave starts because of a crowded restaurant, there’s no predicting how harsh the restrictions could get, given our government’s penchant for restricting F&B.
I’m not saying any of this is easy, and there are plenty of businesses taking every precaution, but I can’t deny that there has been a weird phenomenon in F&B where business owners are complaining about closures, while at the same time flouting all common sense rules about infectious diseases. Have we not realised that one is intrinsically tied to the other? We’ve lived for a year with this pandemic now. I really don’t get why all of this still isn’t obvious.
Bottom line: Yes, do business (because our government is messed up and we have no choice), just don’t do it at the expense of the rest of the industry.
Rant over. Looks like 2021 is still going to be pretty shit, but the least we can do is not roll ourselves in it, hey? Happy Holidays!