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Social distance, party of one: Photos showing how the coronavirus is changing how we dine out

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Mannequins. Cardboard cut-outs. Plastic blow-up dolls (including some of an adult nature). Not so long ago, propping one of these items up at a dining table in public might have seemed like a farcical element straight out of a sitcom.

Now, even the strangest of socializing concepts seems like just another day in the life of living through a pandemic. But restaurants are brainstorming every safe social distancing strategy possible to reopen their doors to diners, and no idea is off the table—whether that be installing plexiglass between seats or asking guests to don pool noodle hats to ensure they stay six feet apart.

As wacky as these props might seem, restaurant managers and owners have no time left to waste.

The global hospitality industry—restaurants and bars, especially—has been particularly devastated by the shutdowns imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19. In the U.S. alone, more than 8 million restaurant workers have already been furloughed or laid off, with the risk spreading to more than 11 million as the economic crisis progresses. The restaurant and foodservice industry lost more than $80 billion in sales over the course of March and April, according to the National Restaurant Association, and that figure is projected to reach $240 billion in losses by the end of 2020.

Possibly the most dire forecast: based on a recent survey covering a third of the restaurants in its network, OpenTable estimates one in four restaurants will close before the pandemic is over—whenever that may be.

In the meantime, restaurant dining will look quite different from ever before, as these photos show, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. At the very least, it could be a new source of entertainment.


EtenRestaurant, part of the Mediamatic Biotoop centre in Amsterdam, is testing greenhouse-like booths for customers to eat in, keeping them protected from other diners.
Willem Velthoven for Mediamatic Amsterdam/Cover Images/Getty Images
This Starbucks in Hong Kong assures social distancing by taping off-limits areas, April 2, 2020.
Tyrone Siu—Reuters
As restaurants in Sydney, Australia were beginning to open in mid-may Five Dock Dining restaurant owner Frank Angeletta had the novel approach of creating ambiance for his limited number of patrons with cardboard cutouts along with a taped background noise recording to simulate guest “chatter.”
James D. Morgan—Getty Images
At the Penguin Eat Shabu hotpot restaurant in Bangkok people eat in between maze-like plastic partitions, May 5, 2020.
Lillian Suwanrumpha—AFP/Getty Images
Workers sit at individual tables as they practice social distancing measures during a break at the Airbus SE assembly plant in Broughton, U.K., on April 30, 2020.
Paul Thomas/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Employees, wearing protective face masks, sit at tables with plastic barriers to maintain social distancing as they take breaks from their work on the automobile assembly line at the recently reopened Renault auto factory in Flins, France May 6, 2020.
Gonzalo Fuentes—Reuters
Fish Tales restaurant and bar in Ocean City, Maryland, offer a more whimsical approach to secure proper social distance is maintained for their customers, “bumper tables,” inflatable inner tubes on wheels, May 16, 2020.
John Middlebrook—Reuters
As Virginia will allow restaurants to reopen at only 50 percent capacity in order to maintain social distancing the chef at the Inn at Little Washington, a Michelin three star restaurant in the Virginia countryside, Patrick O’Connell, plans to seat mannequins costumed in 1940’s era clothing rather than let the tables sit vacant when diners return on May 29, 2020.
Win McNamee—Getty Images
As Italy moves to the second phase or re-opening employees of a restaurant in Milan give a demonstration of one approach to welcome customers with plexiglass dividers between tables.
Claudia Greco—AGF/Universal Images Group/Getty Images
The Bar-B-Q Plaza restaurant in Bangkok, Thailand uses cardboard models of their dinosaur mascot “Barbegon” to occupy some seats to ensure social distancing by their guests on the first day of reopening, May 17, 2020.
Anusak Laowilas—NurPhoto/Getty Images

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Euro Falters After Longest Rally Since 2011 Raised Red Flags

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(Bloomberg) — The longest euro rally in almost a decade is on shaky grounds even as investors’ appetite for risk makes a comeback.Europe’s shared-currency halted an eight-day rally Friday – which was its best since 2011. It earlier reached an almost three-month high of $1.1384, more than 4.5% above its May 25 low, before reversing gains in London.The euro gained a fresh boost Thursday after the European Central Bank expanded its emergency bond-buying program to counter the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Yet while it’s surge against the dollar and other peers took it past key resistance levels, some strategists are urging caution and technical gauges are flashing warning signs.“The ECB-induced euro rally is running out of steam,” Petr Krpata, a strategist at ING Bank said by email. Any “meaningful” euro gains should stem more from the dollar’s bear trend, rather than additional ECB impact, he said.The euro currently appears to be overbought against the greenback, based on a relative strength index — an indicator that measures the speed and size of price movements. A stochastic gauge, meanwhile, suggests that upward momentum may dwindle in coming sessions as the pair nears its year-to-date high of $1.1495.Citigroup’s global head of foreign-exchange analysis Ebrahim Rahbari reckons now is a good time to take some profits even though he remains bullish on the currency. And ABN Amro’s Georgette Boele says it is premature to expect a “continued strong rally” in the currency as “difficult discussions” are ahead on the European Commission’s stimulus program.The euro largely traded in lockstep with surging equity markets amid optimism about the prospects for a global economic recovery. Some are concerned that the recent surge in appetite for riskier assets may have gone too far, though, and that could also weigh on the common currency.There are echoes in the current move of the euro’s rebound in late March, when it recovered from its pandemic lows. Back then, a rally of around 5% in just over a week was followed by a 3.5% slide in a matter of days.Many observers nevertheless remain solid in their bullish calls for the euro. A trio of Societe Generale SA’s quantitative models are signaling that the euro is the top Group-of-10 currency that investors should wager on to rally.Nomura’s Jordan Rochester has a “high conviction” on the euro-dollar pair after last week flipping to a long position from a short one. And Standard Chartered’s Steven Englander says the euro region is looking more attractive.Yen CrossThe currency earlier busted through several key technical resistance levels against its Japanese peer. The euro reached 124.43 on Friday, the highest since May 2019.The technical significance of the move was further bolstered by the fact that the pair has breached its 55-week and 100-week moving averages.But, as with the euro-dollar pair, further gains may be difficult to muster. The euro-yen cross has struggled in the past to breach its 200-week moving average — currently 124.50 — and RSI gauges are also signaling that it’s getting stretched.That, combined with concern about waning fundamental factors, could well provide fodder for euro bears.(Updates prices; a previous version of this story was corrected to show that the length of the euro’s rally was eight days)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.



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China relaxes flight restrictions after U.S. threat—but U.S. airlines say it’s not enough

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The U.S. said on Thursday it would continue to let some Chinese airlines operate flights to the U.S., pulling back a Wednesday order that would have banned Chinese airline service to the country.

The announcement came a day after China’s aviation authority, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), rolled back restrictions on foreign airlines, including U.S. carriers, that were in place to prevent imported coronavirus cases to China, where the virus outbreak is largely under control.

That rollback itself happened a day after the Trump administration said it would ban seven major Chinese airlines from the U.S. to retaliate against China’s foreign airline restrictions, which applied to U.S. carriers Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, and American Airlines. (Delta and United had asked to resume flights to China this month; American plans to restart its service at the end of October.)

The CAAC did not name specific airlines or the U.S. in particular, but the timing of the announcement appeared to be a concession from China that may ease rising tensions between the two countries.

Yet a trade group representing U.S. carriers said the change was not enough, and the airlines wanted a higher flight frequency than the promised once-a-week. “While the Chinese response to the Department of Transportation is a step toward parity for U.S. carriers, more is needed to achieve the goals of the agreement,” the group Airlines for America said Thursday, referring to the U.S.-China Civil Air Transport Agreement of 1980.

Four Chinese airlines—Air China, China Eastern, China Southern, and Xiamen Airlines—were granted flights to the U.S. for June. If the Wednesday order were to have gone through, those four carriers’ flights—each carrier was scheduled for one flight a week—would have been suspended.

“[W]e will allow Chinese carriers to operate the same number of scheduled passenger flights as the Chinese government allows ours[,]” the U.S. DOT statement said.

According to the DOT, the 1980 deal says China must allow one U.S. carrier one flight to China for every flight to the U.S. by a Chinese carrier.

China’s relaxed flight arrangements will allow Delta and United to fly to a city of their choice in China starting June 8. China’s aviation regulator, the CAAC also said that foreign airlines will be able to fly to China twice a week instead of once if all their passengers test negative for coronavirus for three consecutive weeks.

If five or more passengers on a flight test positive on arrival in China, the CAAC said, that airline will be banned from flying into the country for one week; if 10 or more people test positive, the ban increases to four weeks.

International flights will be able to land in 37 Chinese cities, the CAAC said. Besides U.S. airlines, European carriers like Lufthansa and Finnair had also applied to resume China flights in June, but those two airlines told Caixin in late May that they had not yet received a verdict.

“When the risks are under control and adequate guarantees are received, the number of flights from eligible countries can be appropriately increased,” the CAAC said.

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How a hair-care company went from salon supplier to sanitizer powerhouse

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When AG Hair moved into its new, 70,000-sq.-foot, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Coquitlam, B.C., two years ago, it was part of a plan to supercharge expansion of its hair care product line to salons in international markets. Europe was next on its list. Then COVID-19 hit.

Not only was the European expansion put on hold, but salons in major markets across Canada and the United States were temporarily closed. Very few were purchasing hair products, so manufacturing was halted in mid-March, leaving most of the company’s 82 employees out of work.

AG Hair could have waited out the pandemic but instead decided to lean into its entrepreneurial culture and make a sharp pivot. It began providing hand-sanitizing products for front-line health-care workers, addressing a global shortage.

“We realized there was this massive need for health-care professionals, and we wanted to make a difference and be able to provide them with the products they needed,” says AG Hair CEO Graham Fraser.

AG Hair received Canadian and U.S. approvals a week after applying for the licences needed to make sanitizer, and produced samples to show local authorities within 48 hours.

AG Hair’s Coquitlam facility has pivoted to making hand sanitizer (Photograph by Alana Paterson)

“That rapid response time, and the fact that we had gone through all of the Health Canada regulatory hurdles, showed [the local health authorities] that we were a partner they could trust and someone they could look to, to deliver the products they needed,” Fraser says.

Within a month, the company started pumping out the products, first for the health-care industry, then for consumers on its own website and on Amazon. About 10 per cent of AG Hair’s hand-sanitizer production also went to people in need, as identified by organizations such as United Way.

Parallel 49 Brewing Company is also using AG Hair’s Coquitlam manufacturing facility to produce its own blend of liquid hand sanitizer for front-line health and emergency workers, in partnership with the B.C. government.

Fraser credits his team for its energy and creativity in making the hand-sanitizer production happen, and helping put AG Hair staff back to work.

“We realized we had an opportunity . . . and then it became this incredible, almost war-room mentality and collaboration with our owners, our executive team and our people to say, ‘How are we going to get through this?’ ” Fraser recalls. “I think our success speaks to the type of people we have and the entrepreneurial spirit of pursuing every avenue we have, understanding how we can produce the products and making it happen.”

AG Hair’s commitment to investing in future growth is a big part of what makes it a Best Managed company, says Nicole Coleman, a partner at Deloitte and co-lead of its Best Managed Program in B.C.

“Capability and innovation come through quite strongly with this company,” says Coleman, who is also AG Hair’s coach at Deloitte. “I don’t think they would be able to pivot as quickly if they weren’t so strategic and had the internal capabilities to do it.”

The manufacturing facility was a big investment, but one Coleman says has already paid dividends.

“They were looking forward with a strategic plan in mind about future growth and how they could expand, rather than just focusing on the day to day,” she says. “Best Managed companies are always pushing the envelope and are conscious about planning for the future.”

AG Hair was founded in Vancouver in 1989 by hairstylist John Davis and graphic artist Lotte Davis. The husband-and-wife team began bottling hair products in their basement and selling them direct to salons from the back of a station wagon.

The company eventually moved its manufacturing off-site, to a third party. One day, John went to watch the operations and was surprised to see salt being poured into the mixture. Although he was told salt is commonly used as a thickener, he didn’t like the potential side effects of dry hair and skin.

It was at that moment John decided the company would oversee its own manufacturing. “Through that experience, John also became an expert in product development,” says Fraser, who came to the company in 2000 as director of sales.

After having worked for more than two decades at PepsiCo and Kraft Foods, Fraser was eager to work at a smaller, more agile company where he felt he could help make a difference.

“It was perfect because I got to bring a lot of structure and process that I learned in those organizations, but I also learned an awful lot about being an entrepreneur from John and Lotte: that sense of urgency, the decision-making process, the need to get things done and drive things forward and pursue opportunities,” he says.

Fraser has helped drive AG Hair’s expansion into the U.S. and internationally, including Australia, Taiwan, and Central and South America. A portion of its sales go to One Girl Can, a charity founded by Lotte that provides schooling, education and mentoring for girls in sub-Saharan Africa.

Fraser also oversees the development of new, trending products, including a new deep-conditioning hair mask made with 98 per cent plant-based and natural ingredients. Hand-sanitizing spray and gel will be the latest addition to the company’s product lineup.

“We don’t see the demand [for hand-sanitizing products] going away,” he says. “As the isolation policies start to get lifted, people are going to need forms of security and protocols as they get back into regular life and work. We see there’s going to be a need for these types of products long-term.”


This article appears in print in the June 2020 issue of Maclean’s magazine with the headline, “Working out the kinks.” Subscribe to the monthly print magazine here.

The post How a hair-care company went from salon supplier to sanitizer powerhouse appeared first on Canadian Business – Your Source For Business News.



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