MORE HELP NEEDED FOR HOSPITALITY
Facing the business impact of Covid-19 in 2021 is vastly different from that of just 12 months ago, thanks to the ever-diminishing support of state and federal governments. Hospitality stalwarts, the Bellchambers family, owners of the iconic Shingle Inn café and Gilhooleys Irish Pub say it defies belief that no discussion of business support is forthcoming in this latest lockdown, especially given that JobKeeper finished last weekend.
“It feels as though the government has forgotten that lockdowns affect small business and our ability to employ people and operate profitability,” says co-Director Andrew Bellchambers. “There was significant support from the federal government initially but it seems that its too easy now for state governments to impose arbitrary lockdown periods without any thought of the financial burden being inflicted on business.”
Mr Bellchambers says that its not feasible to suggest that cafes and restaurants can operate profitably after 12 months of restrictions, physically limiting the number of customers and forcing businesses to operate under a restricted model, such as they do when they make it everything ‘takeaway only’.
“There seems to be some confusion about what is and is not an essential business too,” says Mr Bellchambers. “At least one shopping centre lessor sent out communications this week saying that retail outlets are essential and should remain open. But if people are being told to stay home, then it doesn’t make sense for those businesses to open, pay their staff and take no income.”
Mr Bellchambers also points to the Lessor Code of Conduct that was nationally introduced in April last year to set a framework for reducing rental payments for businesses who were operating under government-imposed restrictions and, in some cases, unable to open and therefore collect any revenue to pay rent. That agreement ended for many businesses in December, despite Covid-19 continuing to wreak havoc across multiple states since then.
“For each one of these lockdowns, revenue capabilities are reduced, but rental payments aren’t guaranteed to change and minimum staffing requirements are still needed in order to open.”
“The impact of these lockdowns for business lasts for weeks – well beyond a 3 or 7 day ‘official’ closure. Consumer confidence continues to be rattled and state governments who blindly take this action in the name of public safety are taking a soft way out every time with no sense of consideration for small businesses that are paying people’s wages from week to week.”