AHA NSW: “Never has our industry been impacted like this”

04 May, 2020 by Vanessa Cavasinni

AHA NSW has just released data that shows 94 per cent of pub personnel in the state have been stood down or let go during the COVID-19 crisis.

With pubs in New South Wales directly employing roughly 75,000 people pre-crisis, AHA NSW figures show that almost 50,000 of those workers have been stood down in the last seven weeks, with another 20, 000 having been permanently let go.

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While the hotel sector has shut down in accordance with federal and state regulations to help combat the spread of the coronavirus, AHA NSW CEO John Whelan said it had come with a high economic and social cost.

“Sadly, these figures speak for themselves – hoteliers have rightly put the health and safety of staff, patrons and the community first as we battle together to contain the spread of COVID-19, but the virus has devastated hotels and our workforce. 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.”

AHA NSW and National president Scott Leach said the industry was facing its worst days in over a century.

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

“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,” stated Leach.

“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. We have put health first and we are proud of that but we need to make sure businesses survive so we are there to re-employ our people when recovery does come.”

One such pub that has felt the strain of the shutdown the longer it continues, is the Railway Hotel in Parkes. Even with a roaring takeaway and delivery offering, owner Kasie Ferguson said that the expenses continue to amass.

“Although we’re busy, the food trade is different for us. You don’t have that same margin as you do with beverage. We’re making enough money to be able to pay our wages each week and the food suppliers for the stock that’s coming in, but there’s nothing left to chip away at your utilities bills or anything else.”

While hope begins to grow that the restrictions on hotels will be eased a little earlier than expected – as pubs are set to open in the Northern Territory in just over a week – the AHA has been gearing up for what pub trade will need to involve in the future. All branches of the AHA are also encouraging everyone within the industry, as well as the general public, to download the COVIDSafe tracking app, as a way of speeding up the easing of restrictions.