As restrictions eased in the ACT today, local food courts re-opened, bringing an end to eating on the go with shopping bags sliding down your body, while leaning against a wall or sitting on the ground.
At the Canberra Centre, it might have been the same old food court, but it was the ‘new normal’ with vast spaces of blocked off dining areas separating the diners.
Despite the changed environment. shoppers looked relaxed and socially distanced while eating their meals, playing on their phones, feeding their babies, or studying on their computers – all normal pre-pandemic behaviour.
Diners said they felt totally safe in the newly re-opened environment and were impressed with the behaviour of the public, noting everyone was following the rules.
It was an average family day out for Nabaz, Zhiyan and their daughter Varya who were unaware the food court had ever closed.
Nabaz said he wasn’t concerned about being out in public because it had been 10 days since the ACT had an active case of COVID-19.
“As long as you wash your hands, you shouldn’t be too concerned,” Nabaz said.
The Canberra Centre had two masked, uniformed employees at the entrance to the food court.
They marshalled customers, monitored crowd numbers so as not to exceed the lesser of 100 people or one patron to every 4 square metres, and helped people navigate the contract tracing process, which involved scanning codes with your mobile phone and entering your contact details into an online form – communal pen-free.
One diner, who wished to remain anonymous, said she was completely comfortable with being in the food court, but she did feel she had to give away a lot of private information to do so. However, she said she always felt like that now.
The Canberra Centre has stated the collected information will be safely destroyed after 28 days.