This weekend Sydney’s Aria restaurant posted on Instagram, letting people know they’d soon be welcoming guests again.
“We’re excited to announce that…we are reopening our reservations” the post read. “As per the NSW government advice, only fully vaccinated guests will be allowed to enter our venue.”
To read the avalanche of angry responses, you’d think the restaurant was detailing plans to hide razor blades in their soufflé. “I will never eat at a restaurant that supports discrimination!” screeched dozens of commenters. “Medical apartheid!” screamed others. “How much did you get paid for this, Aria?” snarled one conspiracy theorist, presumably of the belief that a shadowy organization is handing out wads of cash to anyone who writes a positive health message on social media.
Others said that in order to punish the restaurant and its staff, they planned to make a booking and cancel it at the last minute (if they do, they’ll probably have to cough up $100 for a no-show fee) or camp outside the restaurant and have a defiant picnic (Aria sits on the first floor above the Opera House concourse so a picnic won’t get in the way of much).
This cowardly, bullying attack on the industry that has been hit harder than any other during Covid tells you everything to know about this rabid, pro-plague fringe group. They don’t care that Australian restaurants, cafes, and catering businesses have lost an estimated $10 billion in revenue since the start of 2020. They don’t care that someone like Matt Moran, Aria’s owner, is one of the most generous supporters of the industry he works in and that it hurts him deeply to watch it crumble. They haven’t seen chefs and restaurateurs close to tears as they tell stories of staff who’ve been struggling without work. These people only care about their own smug sense of superiority, flimsy anti-science views, and manufactured victimhood.
They also don’t care that restaurants are simply trying to do their best in an extremely confusing and frightening time. The laws around exactly who can or can’t be admitted to Australian hospitality venues as we begin to reopen are anything but clear. There’s been talk of mandates and passports, guidelines and rules, but neither the state nor federal governments have given much if any concrete information about how any of it should be enforced. And so restaurants are taking matters into their own hands to try and protect their people. As Sydney restaurateur Neil Perry, who has joined Matt Moran in his strong stance on mandatory vaccinations, told 60 Minutes last night, “It’s important I can say to my customers and my staff ‘I’m putting your safety front of mind.’”
There’s a reason we call those who work in restaurants and foodservice ‘hospitality’ workers. Cooking food is only one small part of what they do. The core of their work is the very specialized, and very difficult-to-perfect art of welcoming people and making sure they have a wonderful time from the moment they step through a venue’s doors. Whether you agree with a restaurant’s vaccination policy or not, the people who work in this beleaguered industry are simply taking the steps required to get back to doing what they do best: making people feel good.
And all of us, whatever our views, ought to show them the same respect.
This article originally appeared on Escape