Benefits of eating in ‘weird’ half-empty restaurants

Australians heading out again for dinner and cocktails are finding there’s a very different atmosphere in restaurants.

Sydney resident Imogen Sheridan went out with three of her friends for dinner on Saturday night.

They booked a table at Eastside Bar and Grill in Chippendale and said they were limited to a 90-minute seating. There was one other table of four there at the same time.

“We were booted out all the dot which is fair enough because they have to manage it,” she told

“It was kind of weird because the restaurant was half empty but it was a very small restaurant so didn’t feel as weird as I imagine being in one of those big Circular Quay restaurants would be.”

The 34-year-old said dining out did feel a bit different as everyone was very cautious about touching each other’s food and sharing food. The waiters were also cautious about being close.

“But for me personally I was just over the moon excited as it just felt so nice to be out and to feel a bit normal,” she said.

There were also some advantages.

“You didn’t wait for anything … everything was very quick.”

She said that restaurants and cafes also seemed to be much more open to split bills and waiving minimum limits on the use of credit cards.

“I would definitely do it again … it was fun.”

NSW eased some of its coronavirus restrictions on Friday, allowing restaurants and cafes to seat up to 10 customers.

NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Joe Cassar said police would continue to work with venues as patrons return to their local haunts.

He said rain in Sydney on Friday night impacted the number of people seeking tables, making 10-person limits and distancing requirements easier to implement.

“We’ve got early feedback from our police on the ground there’s an acceptance conditions have been relaxed and there’s been compliance with the new conditions,” Mr Cassar told reporters on Saturday.

“We’re in a very positive situation with low numbers being recorded and just ask members of the community to continue to comply with those conditions.”

On Sunday, NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the state had recorded just one new case of COVID-19.

Under eased restrictions, outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people are now permitted and up to five people, including children, can visit another NSW household.

Religious gatherings and places of worship can welcome up to 10 people, and 10 guests are also allowed at weddings, 20 at indoor funerals and 30 at outdoor funerals from Friday.

Outdoor equipment including gyms and playgrounds can be used with caution, with people encouraged to wipe down equipment, while outdoor pools are open with restrictions.

NSW Health’s Dr Jeremy McAnulty on Saturday warned the virus was still “bubbling underneath the surface” and urged people to get tested if they had any symptoms at all.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard it was important to remember COVID-19 was still “extremely dangerous”, with vigilance needed.

— With AAP

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