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Restaurants flout social distancing rules as in-store service returns


Businesses nationwide have flouted social distancing rules to serve customers rushing in-store fast food chains.

New Zealand recently dropped its lockdown to Level 3 which allowed many Kiwis to visit their favourite restaurants.

And according to Unite Union, members contacted the union about customers and staff failing to meet social distancing obligations, and in some cases actively avoiding them.

In one case described by the union, a manager said a staff member was not a ‘team player’, and that speed was more important than social distancing when concerns were raised.

“It should be no surprise that if such carelessness is shown in public that behind closed doors it’s even worse,” the union wrote.

However, the union had raised concerns with major companies it deals with – Mcdonalds, KFC, Carl’s Jr, Pizza Hut, Wendys and Burger King – in order to better prepare them for potential breaches as the country moved from Level 4 to Level 3.

The sanitary conditions of a traditional drive-through experience and cash transactions, as well as putting less of a focus on serving customers as quickly as possible were issues raised prior to the move to Level 3.

“Where we have seen health and safety breaches in the past, it has primarily stemmed from workers put under pressure to maintain fast service levels – essentially compromising safety for profit,” the union said.

“We know that long queues mean an upsurge in customer aggression towards workers… managers and fast food companies need to take a zero tolerance approach.

“Workers must be backed up by their employers on this – which often hasn’t been the cast in fast foods.”

As such, Unite has been sending reports to WorkSafe when made aware of issues in New Zealand’s food sector.

“Companies are simply not doing what they promised and what is required by law. The government and WorkSafe need to step up,” the union said.

“McDonald’s told us their drive through practice, where they breach physical distancing requirements, was approved by Worksafe. We have asked Worksafe for confirmation, but have received nothing.”

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