As we are stepping out to the outside world after the COVID-19 lockdown, the country as a whole is currently going through numerous changes and practices to stay safe within the community. There are many industries that have absorbed this new and indeed necessary trends and techniques amid these tumultuous times. Here’s a quick peek at the ongoing changes happening in the city of Colombo after this long hiatus.
Among the industries that were affected by this change, the hospitality industry, including hotels, amusement parks, restaurants, pubs among many others took a proverbial punch in the gut. The cities which hosted these businesses turned into ghost towns with the onset of the pandemic, have now started gradually opening their doors to the general public, complying with the social distancing rules and regulations.
We can see that the restaurants in Colombo are slowly regaining their usual hustle albeit with a few changes, particularly with their dine-in services. During the whole period of the lockdown, most of the restaurants, cafes, eateries had to resort to food delivery or takeaway, predominantly via online apps or the usual call, to a hotline and the said deliveries had to be done with caution in order to minimize the risk of the pandemic.
As dining in and travel was restricted,consumers adapted to this change gradually. In order to gain traction in this climate, promoting online delivery services was essential, and as such the industry embraced the use of digital marketing and social media advertising to attract the customer’s eye.Even before the lockdown online retail/sale was an avenue which was gaining steam on the island and the pandemic essentially gave an adrenaline shot to this trend. People, initially had to and later got used to engage in online purchasing rather than physically visiting stores. This approach may be the new normal for most of the customers considering the ease of access and less time spent as a result of this new marketing environment adapted by businesses. Undoubtedly there was a social media win due to all these reasons along with the development in e-commerce as well. Even with the opening up of cafes and restaurants for customers, their doors will be open for dine-in mostly during peak hours. That is also to a limited cliental and does not extend till late evenings due to the current curfew restrictions in place. They have opened them with a limited number of staff to serve the customers and the premises are open under the conditions of keeping them sanitized while adhering to the social distancing rules and regulations.
The entrances of these restaurants are and should be equipped with hand sanitizing areas with sanitizer dispensers and water along with a temperature check done by one of the restaurant staff and they will record the information of all the customers for future use, at the registration table. They have reduced the number of dining tables and some restaurants tend to use QR codes to access the menu through the customer’s phone. If not, the menu should be clearly displayed on a TV screen. It is compulsory for all the customers to wear face masks when entering the premises. Most of these cafes have gone for a fewer menu options because tough times call for tougher decisions after all. These standards have to be maintained by the staff members even after the customers leave. Cleaning and sanitation of the premises is necessary and the customers are not allowed to share their cutlery and crockery with each other. Cash transactions between customers and the cashier, should be maintained at a minimum level and card payments are highly encouraged, in which the debit/ credit cards should be inserted to the card reading machine by the customers themselves. This will reduce the contact between the customers and the restaurant staff. A la carte menu is promoted than buffet. It is encouraged to display public heath posters pertaining to personal and social health and wellbeing in these public areas. Needless to say that this period has given the opportunities for numerous home bakers to make their baking dreams come true.
Even though it is predicted that it will take time for tourism and the travel industry to return back to normal, hotels and resorts are also opening the doors to their customers step by step. The hotels have begun to adapt to the preventive measures to control the spread of diseases. More attention is drawn towards more crowded areas such as the poolside, lounge area of the hotels, by the hotel management who are also needed to be trained on the practicing of these control measures.
Further, different, innovative fashion trends with related to face masks can be seen in order to add a touch of color to all the lives that are stuck in lockdown. Most of the Sri Lankan brands have come up with their own custom made face masks and masks that match your outfit and design. After a few months of online shopping, the clothing boutiques and shops are too, opening their doors for their customers to physically visit the stores. Some have allowed their dressing rooms to be open with a limited number of clothing items per customer per visit and these fit-on garments will be steamed and sanitized before restocking them. This process can be successfully carried out together with the assistance of the customers and the general public.
In light of this extraordinary predicament, that we and the entire globe are facing, in order to get ourselves adjusted to this “new normal”, we all need to band together as one, to assist each other during these trying times and we are all liable to do our part to get back on track as a country and to better ourselves to fit to this new world that awaits us after the lockdown.