By Vanessa Cavasinni, Editor Australian Hotelier and Andy Young, Editor The Shout
The South Australian Government has locked down the state in a six-day “circuit breaker” as it looks to bring a COVID-19 cluster under control.
SA Premier Steven Marshall said the lockdown will allow for a contact tracing blitz to bring the Parafield cluster under control, saying that the state continues to face its biggest test to date.
He added: “We are going hard and we are going early. Time is of the essence. We must act swiftly and decisively. We cannot wait to see how bad this becomes.”
Chief Public Health Officer Professor Nicola Spurrier said: “If we leave this any longer then we will be in this for a long haul and we will be like the experience in Victoria.
“We don’t have any time to wait. If I just thought about this all day and then told the Police Commissioner and the Premier tonight, we would already be that 12 hours behind.”
From midnight tonight all pubs, cafes, coffee shops and takeaway food outlets will be among the wide range of facilities that will be closed. Bottle shops will remain open.
In addition people must stay home with no exercise outside the home and only one person per household, per day allowed to leave in order to purchase groceries.
Australian Hotels Association SA CEO Ian Horne told The Shout the lockdown will cost millions with the spoiling of fresh food, millions in lost wages and millions in wastage.
He said: “SA has now lost the most lucrative trading period of November and December which sustains industry through the slow times of the year.
“This lockdown strategy will simply add to the continued pain and loss for business and their workers. The ramifications of this decision will add to industry failures.
“These restrictions appear to be much more severe than Victoria ever had.
“Clearly State Government is going for total elimination, what if these outbreaks continue to happen on a regular basis over next 12 months?”
He pointed out that SA had been virus free and that the state was now paying a high price for repatriating expats.
Horne also hit out at the Government for the significant burden being placed on hotels and hospitality, saying 10 hours’ notice for shut down was “totally inadequate”.
That was a sentiment echoed by Anna Hurley, manager of the Marion Hotel in Adelaide, which is part of Hurley Hotel Group, who told The Shout she was ‘absolutely not’ given any prior communication about the shut down.
“We get no communication, we find out when everyone else does. It’s been the same story the whole time – no communication and no consultation,” she said.
Hurley also said the no takeaway ruling was “frustrating” because of the wastage.
“No one made any money out of takeaway last time but it started as a way to move produce on, and now we don’t even have that.
“So we’re probably going to have to throw away heaps of food. That’s pretty heartbreaking. Even a lot of keg beer we’re going to have to throw down the drain, open wine bottles too. It’s just such a waste.”
Josh Talbot and Oliver Brown, owners of The Big Easy Group are also currently figuring out how to reduce wastage – starting with oysters for lunch for the whole team today after the news was announced. While there’s plenty to figure out, and still many unknowns, the duo are approaching this shutdown with more positivity than the first time around.
“We absolutely understand why it needs to be done and if it means we can be back open again in December then it will all be worth it,” stated Talbot.
In the meantime, he hopes that people get behind South Australia’s hospitality industry.
“Whilst the lockdown continues, we would love to encourage people to buy gift vouchers for South Aussie venues. It’s a great way to keep a bit of cash coming in and it all flows down to the local producers/suppliers that we support as well. We’ve got gift cards available on all of our websites, [it’s] the perfect little Chrissy present.”
But for now, there are some very real implications that venues have to deal with in the next six hours, as Hurley can attest to: “I’m really just trying to process the practical implications of this at the moment – contacting staff, working out what we do with food and other stock, trying to work through the regulations, what we’re going to do with our accommodation guests – there’s just so many practical things to think about.
“That and the staff are my very first priority.
“I’m really not sure what to think of the lockdown on a broader level, I don’t think I’ve really absorbed that yet. I’m just in shock really.”