Industry facing its worst days in more than 100 years

A staggering 94 per cent of hotel and pub workers across the State have been stood down or terminated due to Covid-19.

The figures released for the first time by the NSW Australian Hotel Association (AHA) certainly ring true for local publican Carl Mower.

He is the general manager of Toormina Hotel and says that following the late March shut down he was forced to stand down 52 of the hotel's 67 staff.

The NSW AHA statistics show that of the 94 per cent of workers stood down or terminated, 66 per cent (approximately 49,641 workers) have been stood-down while 20,812 have been put off permanently because of Covid 19.

AHA NSW CEO John Whelan said the hotel sector had shut down to protect the health of the community, but the economic and social costs were high.

"Sadly, these figures speak for themselves - hoteliers have rightly put the health and safety of staff, patrons and the community first, but the virus has devastated hotels and our workforce," Mr Whelan said.

"We look forward to the day when we can safely re-open our doors, re-employ our staff and pour a cold draught beer for our patient patrons."

 

Coffs Hotel bottle shop Max Phillips keeping busy at the Coffs Hotel bottle shop.
Coffs Hotel bottle shop Max Phillips keeping busy at the Coffs Hotel bottle shop.

AHA NSW and National President Scott Leach said the industry was facing its worst days in more than 100 years.

"We have faced bushfires, floods, droughts and wars alongside the communities we serve but never has our industry been impacted like this," he said.

"Our hoteliers and their staff are doing the right thing but they are paying a heavy price. We have to remember too, the industry is not in hibernation - bills keep coming in - land tax, company tax, council rates and electricity and gas to name a few, with little or no support.

"Your typical country pub is losing $25-35,000 a month - again with no money coming in. There really is a limit to how much debt can accumulate before many will be forced to close their doors for good."

 

Doing business differently: Dale Neaves at the Toormina Hotel Drive through which is now selling a range of essential products.
Doing business differently: Dale Neaves at the Toormina Hotel Drive through which is now selling a range of essential products.

But Mr Mower says there has been no consideration given to closing Tormina Hotel.

"Not at all, we're chomping at the bit to open again. In my mind that's probably going to be early in July. Operating again under whatever the new normal will be with massive restrictions on numbers and how long we can stay open for.

"I've been looking at the Northern Territory as a bit of a guide as to how it will all go."

From the staff initially laid off at the end of March, approximately 26 have been rehired in new roles under the Job Keeper program.

Those new roles include cleaning and painting in preparation for reopening or working in the hotel's drive through 'essentials' store.



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