With the spread of Covid-19 prompting the government to implement mandatory quarantines and encourage social distancing, Adelaide’s hospitality industry is facing what might be the greatest challenge in a generation. After similar moves in Sydney and Brisbane, local cafes are acting to protect and reassure their customers by temporarily banning reusable cups and payments made in cash.

CBD joints La Moka, Coffee Branch and Seafaring Fool have implemented the bans, and while Karma & Crow (Richmond), The Banksia Tree Cafe (Port Adelaide), Third Time Lucky (Lockleys), and Clement & Herron (Findon) are following suit in the suburbs. Norwood retail hub and co-working space Brick & Mortar Creative is taking the further precaution of closing its doors for a week (until March 24). These attempts to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 follow the approach of multinational giants including Starbucks, McDonald’s and Caltex.

Manuel Francesconi, owner of La Moka, says he’s acted swiftly to make changes to how his business operates. In addition to the bans on reusable cups and cash payments, he says there is now sanitising gel at the entrance to the cafe and next to the till, plenty of soap at hand-washing stations, and a new, covered spot underneath the counter for takeaway cups and lids – to ensure no one can sneeze or cough on them. “These are all things we’ve decided to implement so the risk is absolutely minimum,” Francesconi says.

Despite increased safety measures, the public’s concerns over the coronavirus appear to already be having an impact on local cafes, with some venues reporting a downturn in trade of 50 per cent.

At La Moka, Francesconi says business has remained somewhat stable, but he’s expecting the downturn to come – and soon. “We still saw quite a few regulars yesterday, but we’ve started to hear from a lot of them that they’re going to start working from home. So it will definitely affect us in a big way,” he says.

Many of his eight staff live from week to week, so he plans to make changes to rosters soon. Hours will be cut across the board – including his own – and redistributed equitably. “It’s not only our responsibility to say, ‘let’s keep the business afloat’ – yes, obviously if there’s no business, there’s no pay at all – but while there is a business, we just want to make sure that everyone in it can put food on the table,” he says.

“If it does come down to the point where we have to shut down [temporarily], I think we’re going to have to talk about, eventually, giving [staff] an advance payment for the future that can be paid off over maybe three to six months … but hopefully we’re not going to get to that point.”

A live list of Adelaide restaurants, cafes and bars going takeaway-only due to coronavirus can be found here. Information on temporary and permanent closures can be found here.

Covid-19 (coronavirus) means we’re living in unprecedented and uncertain times. Mass public gatherings are banned and minimal social contact is recommended. If you have concerns about visiting businesses or public spaces, or questions about self-isolation or coronavirus testing, check out the latest updates from SA Health.