The Australian Hotels Association NSW Director of Liquor and Policing, John Green, has said everyone needs to pull together for the sake of the NSW hospitality industry, and making sure as many venues as possible survive this lockdown.
Speaking to Sky News, Green said that venues have gone through a lot over the last 16 months, from 10 weeks of shutdown to operating over the last year with significant restrictions, to being forced back into lockdown now.
He told Sky News: “Many of them have been spending a lot of their capital, their available funds over the last year while operating under restrictions so now they have been shut down again for at least three weeks, they are in dire straits, their financial situation is more grim by the day.
“The governments need to be there to support us, particularly if they are going to shut us down, that support needs to be made available at the local, the state and the federal level.”
He added: “Currently we have over 50,000 staff who are stood down, we’ve also got in regional New South Wales fairly significant restrictions, so a lot of those staff have been stood down, or are working less shifts at the moment. So our staff are hurting badly.
“I have fears for many of our staff who have bills to pay, they have got to pay rent, food and utilities with the current amount they are getting, but also our members across New South Wales are, as I said, spending up their capital surviving to this date, so some of them may go under.
“I have fears for some of the operators and their ability to maintain their businesses. We need people like landlords coming to the party with things like waiving or at least deferring rents, we need everyone to pull together otherwise there may be little of the hospitality sector available, depending on how long this lockdown goes for.”
While Green would not be drawn on criticism of whether the NSW Government had acted quickly enough in enacting the lockdown, saying he was confident they have been working on the advice from NSW Health, he said vaccinations will be key to helping the industry recover.
“We need to look forward,” Green said, “we need to make sure that our industry is supported, and people need to be vaccinated so the hospitality industry can get back on its feet far quicker.”
Green also told Sky News that while vaccination rates remain low in Australia it becomes increasingly difficult for consumers in this country to see scenes from Europe with big crowds gathering at sporting events in particular.
“The secret there is the number of people that have been vaccinated, and I think that is also part of the problem [here]. I think people in Australia are looking at Wimbledon, they are looking at the Euros and they are looking at the Tour de France and out of that they are thinking we appear have done so well here, and that’s why they are not obeying the rules like they need to.
“It’s vastly important that everyone obeys the rules so we can get rid of this lockdown and get this under control as soon as we can, and then, and only when we have got that vaccine rate up, can we look to opening up like they do overseas.”