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AHA NSW says lockdown costs are too great

AHA NSW says thousands of staff and hoteliers across NSW have been left devastated and exhausted by the extension of the Sydney lockdown and state-wide restrictions.

AHA NSW CEO John Whelan said: “The lockdown extension is devastating news for more than 50,000 Greater Sydney-based staff who are out of work for another week, as well as the broader NSW hotel industry which has operated under restricted trading conditions for more than 15 months and counting.

“Our staff have rent and bills to pay. Many are not eligible for government support and a third week with no work really hits hard.

“Country and regional NSW have had no cases, but businesses there are also facing an extra week of restrictions.

“Today’s lockdown extension is particularly hard to take when we are seeing the world open up. We appear to be going backwards – with community vaccination still months away at best.

“Looking ahead, we simply can’t afford another Sydney CBD quarantine COVID breach – the economic and mental health costs of the ensuing lockdown are just too great.”

Tourism Accommodation Australia chief executive Michael Johnson said it’s a similar situation for his industry, with occupancy rates of hotels in Sydney at less than 2%, while their owners have to continue to pay bills.

“This is another blow to an already dire situation,” Johnson said.

“Hotels are losing millions of dollars each week and have little support to keep paying the bills and to keep paying staff.”

Premier Gladys Berejiklian hasn’t revealed whether further assistance may be available.

She said: “I know and appreciate how difficult it is and the NSW government has already contributed billions towards our economy over and above what we anticipated to support everybody during COVID, whether it is various measures, direct grants or our measures we have undertaken.”

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