COVID-19 response: NSW Government gives lifeline to restaurants, food trucks

Restaurants in NSW will be able to operate as ‘dark kitchens’.
Restaurants in NSW will be able to operate as ‘dark kitchens’.

Restaurants in New South Wales will have greater ability to serve takeaway food to help them weather the impact of the coronavirus, under new rules from the NSW Government.

With hospitality businesses among the hardest hit by social distancing and isolation regulations in the wake of the COVID-19 epidemic, the government has announced new measures to allow food businesses to generate income.

Under the rules, kitchens serving only takeaway food – known as ‘dark kitchens’ – will be able to operate unrestricted in the state, with both restaurants and caterers able to convert their businesses to provide ‘takeaway-only’ service.

“There will be greater flexibility for businesses to operate ‘dark kitchens’ from anywhere in NSW, to prepare meals for home service or institutional settings,” NSW planning minister Rob Stokes said on Thursday.

Food trucks have also won a reprieve and will be allowed to operate from any land in NSW, provide they have the consent of the landowner.

NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian said it was important to allow the food service industry to innovate as businesses fight for survival.

“The social distancing rules make it impossible for a restaurant to operate in the way it used to, but takeaway is an option,” she said.

“We don’t want to tell businesses how they can and can’t innovate, that’s up to them, but we ask that they follow the social distancing rules.”

“You can’t sit down and have a meal. A lot of businesses, rather than closing, have converted to takeaway, and that’s why we’ve allowed kitchens that were previously used for sitting at a restaurant to be used for takeaway and other purposes.”