Ken Burgin

What’s your Business Plan B for when the Caronavirus hits Australia?

I’m still trying to process and understand the implications for restaurants, cafes and foodservice – the news keep unfolding every day. I’ll keep updating this over time – so much to consider…

  • Last year we had more than 1.4 million tourists from Chinese, many of them travelling in groups – new bookings have now been stopped. How exposed is your business to overseas tourists? Even my Uber driver this morning said he often has Chinese passengers in the city areas.
  • Export industries – rock lobster exports from Western Australia to China have stopped, because of transport and logistics problems in China. Where will they be redirected to, and what effect will it have on prices? What is their Plan B?
  • Imports – we depend on Chinese manufacturing for almost everything, from cooking equipment to electronics, clothing, utensils, furniture and quite a lot of food manufacturing. Much of it is delivered at very low cost through an extraordinarily efficient transport system – how will that be affected? The world is addicted to low-cost Chinese goods…
  • Australia hosts over 200,000 students from China, almost half of them university students, and the academic year is about to begin. Difficult timing for a health crisis – what will be expected of them when they return to campus? Many of these people also work in hospitality, and are foodservice customers.
  • Some schools are asking students returning from China to stay away, until their health status is clear. Who handles childcare, and what precautions are teachers taking? When do we get a unified national response?
  • We don’t need racial profiling and scapegoating – there’s way to much of that already. People become paranoid and lash out when there’s fear and uncertainty – we need compassionate, trustworthy leaders to reassure people and give direction. More science, expertise and rapid response – this will be very expensive.

Sources of Information: I find Twitter useful for breaking news, and there’s the Australian Dept of Health and World Health Organisation. Plus the ABC and Guardian.

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