Melbourne pubs may never recover from COVID-19 lockdown according to AHA Vic President David Canny.
Canny told 3AW if pubs have to wait until November to open it will be “death by 1000 cuts”.
“There’s no doubt we are going to lose pubs,” he said.
“I think the hospitality landscape in this state may well be changed forever, which is a devastating blow.”
Some pubs have racked up bills of about $250,000 since restrictions were enforced. An Australian Hotels Association survey of its members found larger pubs were struggling with costs of $25,000 a week.
Paul Waterson, chief executive of Australian Venue Co, told the Australian Financial Review it will cost the group more to open its 32 pubs and bars in Victoria on November 2 with the proposed restrictions than it would to keep them closed. But it will open them because it is ”the right thing to do”.
James Sinclair, CEO & Managing Director of The Signature Hospitality Group, told 3AW the business have liked to have been “rewarded” for obeying the government’s harsh lockdown measures over the past few months by being able to open for the AFL grand final.
In September, Canny (above) said pubs faced “going over a cliff” under the extension to Melbourne’s stage 4 restrictions.
“We are on the verge of becoming a ‘welfare state’ if our members are any indication as to the impact that lockdown restrictions are having on us,” he noted.
“Each pub has a limit of just how much debt it can take before decisions are made to close the business for good.
“This is the cliff we are now facing. Local pubs are on the debt cliff and will never recover if they cannot reopen soon.
“We could lose the iconic corner pub because of the debt the Victorian Government restrictions have put on them.”
Canny, who runs the Red Lion in Ballarat, told the Herald Sun last week that pubs wanted to welcome punters to “safely celebrate” the Grand Final, Christmas and the New Year.
“We still have to pay rates, power, building security, insurance, land tax, corporate tax and the fixed overheads each day of the week, with many operators continuing to pay staff who are not entitled to government assistance such as chefs on visas,” he said.
“52,000 Victorians won’t have a job to wake up to if we don’t act now and get our pubs out of this situation.”
The Federal Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, said Premier Dan Andrews was showing callous indifference towards small business owners.
“The bloody-mindedness is unforgivable,’ Frydenberg told the Today show.
Pictured main: The Morning Star in Williamstown was forced to permanently close its doors due to COVID lockdown.