Chef Jay Barrett from Frenchville Sports Club
Chef Jay Barrett from Frenchville Sports Club

Frenchie finds a way around mass gathering restrictions

After opening its doors in 1948, the Frenchville Sports Club has serviced Rockhampton through drought, flood, fires and cyclones but today a threat to business larger than any past adversity looms.

With mass indoor gatherings of more than 100 people banned amid coronavirus concerns, the hospitality industry is one of many primed to take a big hit.

But implementing innovation in the face of the restrictions, FSC has found itself in the position to stay open for business for now.

The government has defined an indoor gathering as being within a single enclosed area, so the already sectioned establishment is still allowed to host hundreds of people at any one time.

“We can have 100 in the bistro, 100 in the gaming room, 100 in the Arena Bar, Champions Bar, cafe etc,” Frenchville Sports Club general manager Damien Massingham said.

“We’re even making zones within zones to facilitate social distancing.”

With more than 18,000 members, Mr Massingham said he felt obliged to keep the services on the table for the community while taking measured precautions.

“We’ve always had a history of supporting the community, we’re a community owned club, so in events like this, we will continue to do that,” he said.

“Obviously, we have to do that within the parameters the government put before us.”

He said a myriad of increased sanitation measures had been put in place to protect staff and patrons from COVID-19.

Chef Jay Barrett from Frenchville Sports Club
Chef Jay Barrett from Frenchville Sports Club

The measures included cleaning tables more frequently, provision of hand sanitiser, individually provide cutlery to diners, water over the bar instead of water stations and encouraging social distancing for staff and punters alike.

Even bingo-goers will be able to keep attending, however it will be restricted to 90 people with FSC memberships.

“Ninety people in a room that can fit 340, that will leave big spaces between people so that they can do social distancing,” Mr Massingham said.

A core characteristic of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the fluid nature of government advice and response in the unprecedented and ever-changing global event, but the FSC is ready to change as developments arise.

“We’ll be monitoring the situation as it goes on, but we’ve been called on by our members to continue to provide services they want,” Mr Massingham said.

“We’re rapidly evolving to every announcement … whatever announcement is made; we’ll abide by that and make the right adjustments.”

Despite the aura of anxiety and stress in the air, FSC patrons were making it known to staff that they wished to get on with life, but within the parameters put before them by the powers that be.

For those still looking to play it safe at home, FSC offers takeaway and the menu is available for delivery on UberEats.

Management recommends that anyone attending the Sports Club only do so if they are feeling well and book ahead to avoid missing out.

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