We are calling on the Government for an immediate lift of restrictions and additional financial relief following feedback from members of another week of falling revenues.
We’ve been conducting a weekly survey to gain feedback and after a third week at level 2 member feedback is that 60 per cent are reporting a fall in revenues compared with the same trading period last year. 22 per cent are calling the losses ‘significant’.
Feedback from members is that the single server rule is the single most challenging aspect of operating at level 2, with maintaining physical distance ranking second.
Whilst the single server rule has now been amended to the ‘greatest extent practicable’ it still means there is still significant onus on our industry to be providing a single server. We are also acutely aware that many members of the public will still be largely unaware of this amendment.
The feedback is distressing to say the least. These two restrictions alone are proving extremely restrictive. Additional wage costs associated with the single server operation is significantly increasing wage bills and with fewer tables to serve, it’s making the cost of reopening too high.
We have schools and offices back, sports practises starting and people able to shop relatively freely and yet our industry appears to be working under far more draconian regulations.
Anecdotal feedback from members has also shown that managing customer expectations has also proved a challenge. Many customers do not understand the single server requirement, or the time it takes to manage service in this way, and understandably would prefer a more seamless service experience.
Counter service is available now for only those businesses that do not serve alcohol. This is unreasonably limiting for bars, as well as cafes, many of whom have liquor licenses and we would prefer to see that the rule applies only to all of our businesses that can meet the physical distancing requirements.
Whilst the extension to the wage subsidy has helped it’s only going to apply to businesses sitting at a 50 per cent loss, which completely undermines the needs of those sitting at 20, 30 and 40 percent losses which are still considerable for an industry where profit margins are typically lower than 10 per cent.
The losses for our industry are now mounting and with no word on additional relief or a code of conduct for commercial leases, to say our hospitality businesses are battling is an understatement.