COVID safe operations increases travel confidence for Port Douglas tourists


Jamie Jansen

Guest Writer

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Hemingway’s Brewery Port Douglas is taking a number of COVIDSafe actions to ensure the environment is safe. Image: Jamie Jansen.
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Hospitality and tourism businesses in Port Douglas are working hard to provide a COVID safe environment for tourists.

As the COVID crisis brought Australia’s tourism industry to a near-standstill, it is no surprise the pandemic had a big impact on the economy of the Douglas Shire.

With an eighty per cent reliance on tourism, the Shire ranks as one of the most tourism-dependent regions in Australia.

Since Queensland eased its border restrictions, businesses in Port Douglas have taken necessary actions to ensure the environment is as safe as possible for visitors.

Chris Barber, venue manager at Hemingway’s, is on top of his staff to make sure they monitor customers to check-in.

“We have QR-codes at every entrance and all the tables are provided with a check-in form”, he said. 

“The form gives people three different options to check-in”, he explains.

“They can either scan the QR-code with their phone, go to the website manually, or send a text message to the number on the form.”

Hemingway’s also downsized their maximum capacity from four hundred customers to three hundred.

“Most of the space in our venue is classed as ‘outside’, that means we are allowed to host more people than other venues of this size”, Mr Barber said.

Sanitising tables and menus have become second nature to Hemingway’s’ staff members.

“Before COVID we used to sanitise as well but now we really had to ramp it up," he said.

According to Mr Barber, many businesses around town are doing their best to do the right thing.

“If something does happen, it could cripple us again and we’ve already had a hard enough season.

“We have tourists coming from Victoria and they are so happy to be here after being in lockdown for a long period. With the relatively small number of cases up here in the past, they feel a lot safer in our region," he said.

Mr Barber added that they had a record week over the Christmas period.

“That shows that people are pretty confident to come up here.”

Simon MacLeod, owner of burger bar N17, also made the necessary changes to provide a safe environment for his customers.

He replaced most of his furniture to be able to maintain a 1.5-metre social distance between tables.

“Before COVID hit we had a big lounge area with bulky lounge seats,” he said.

“I decided to take them out because it was hard to maintain social distancing. Besides that, the sanitiser spray also ruined the material.

“To make optimal use of the venue’s space, I bought new wooden tables and chairs.”

With the new furniture, he is now able to have a maximum capacity of fifty people.

“That means one person per every two square metres”, Mr MacLeod said. 

“In order to provide a strict hygiene protocol, we don’t have sauce bottles and salt and pepper on the tables. When people ask for it, we bring it out to them.”

As the Queensland Government has made contact tracing mandatory, Mr MacLeod also made sure there are QR-codes everywhere in the venue.

“We have a big sign at the entrance saying ‘please wait to be seated’ with a QR-code right underneath it. Our staff is also instructed to ask customers to sign in before they order their food.

Mr MacLeod added that most people are happy to sign in as it gives them a safer feeling. 

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