The hospitality initiatives fighting COVID-19

Every week of lockdown is costing the hospitality industry $428 million in lost bookings and events in Sydney and Melbourne alone. It’s led to a range of initiatives aimed at raising the vaccination rate so venues can reopen safely.

Here are four of the latest moves.

Put a jab on the menu

A pro-vaccine campaign to support Australia’s hospitality industry, called #putajabonthemenu, has launched across Australia.

Advertising guru David Nobay teamed up with chefs and film director Susan Stitt to produce the campaign to encourage people to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

It was created with no budget or actors and shot in lockdown, with 100% of the creative team and the chef’s time being donated absolutely free.

Among those who have signed on as ambassadors for the campaign are Matt Moran, Danielle Alvarez, Neil Perry, Maurice Terzini, Anna Ugarte- Carral, Frank Camorra, Victor Liong, Shannon Martinez, Adam d’Sylva, Ross Lusted, Jacqui Challinor, Alex Munoz Labart, Massimo Mele, Nick Holloway and Morgan McGlone.

Guillaume Brahimi, owner of Bistro Guillaume, said: “Whether it’s a small suburban Thai restaurant, a country pub, a cafe, a 300-seat fine diner, every person who works in hospitality does it because they want to bring happiness to people by service or food. But regardless of our shared passion, there’s one thing that we can’t overcome, and that’s empty tables.

“I’ve been speaking to so many of my friends in hospitality and this time around could be what breaks them. Takeaway doesn’t make money for restaurants not set up for that; they are doing it mainly to keep their teams busy, and for mental health.

“Vaccination is the only way to save our industry and open it up again, without restrictions. If we don’t get it done, we’re going to lose some amazing businesses.”

Watch the ad below:

Stop the Spread – Enjoy @ Home

The Eastern Suburbs Liquor Accord has launched a campaign to encourage people to drink their takeaway alcohol at home rather than on the streets. 

The “Stop the Spread – Enjoy @ Home” education and awareness initiative is being run in collaboration with NSW Police and urges people not to risk breaching COVID-19 Public Health Orders. 

Marcel Savary, Liquor & Gaming’s Director of Compliance, said when new COVID restrictions were announced, provisions were set for licensed venues to sell takeaway alcohol with or without food to support businesses during these difficult times. 

“We appreciate these are really difficult times for industry and have granted significant concessions to businesses who would not normally be allowed to sell takeaway alcohol,” Savary said.  

“Unfortunately, a small number of venues in Bondi and Coogee were selling takeaway cocktails in ready to consume format, resulting in customers congregating on the street and effectively turning the businesses into so-called ‘kerbside bars

“This also contributed to people drinking in other alcohol-free zones such as nearby parks. In response Liquor and Gaming NSW issued directions to a number of those businesses and launched joint follow-up inspections with NSW Police.”

Under new regulatory directions, licensees who wish to sell takeaway alcohol and cocktails must implement appropriate controls, including: 

  • All takeaway alcohol sold or supplied should be packaged in sealed vessels,
  • Cups, straws, ice, and other items promoting immediate consumption must not be sold or supplied for takeaway with alcohol,
  • The venue’s promotional material and activities must not promote or otherwise encourage the consumption of takeaway alcohol in any public place or any other activity which would breach the public heath orders,
  • Notices should be prominently placed at the point of sale, directing patrons that alcohol is for consumption at home, and 
  • The venue must continue to comply with all public health requirements and implement COVID-Safe controls specific to the take-away portion of the business, including social distancing and queue management.

Last weekend saw a significant reduction in street drinking and people in contravention of Public Health Orders.

“We’re really pleased to see the initiative taken by the Eastern Suburbs Liquor Accord along with local police to keep people COVID safe and drive home the message that takeaway alcohol should be enjoyed at home to stop the spread,” Savary said. 

“With the weather improving we know that customers in other similar locations around Sydney might be tempted to drink their alcohol out and about. We will work with Liquor Accords across the State to implement this excellent industry-driven campaign.”

Adam Purcell, Chair of Eastern Suburbs Liquor Accord, said the relaxation of takeaway alcohol regulations by Liquor & Gaming NSW allows the accord’s members to salvage some lost revenue during the lockdown period. 

“This Liquor Accord initiative driven by our members is important, as it reminds patrons of the necessity to return home and enjoy their alcohol purchases in a safe environment.”

Green Pass for Hospitality

The Restaurant & Catering Association recently conducted a member-wide poll that found 63% of pub, restaurant and cafe owners want to make vaccination compulsory for workers.

“They have spoken loudly; businesses wanting the federal government to mandate vaccinations or businesses mandating vaccines for their employees,” R&CA CEO Wes Lambert told ABC.

“In many states, they are locked down and their businesses are in desperate situations. They just want their businesses to open and [to have] some stability; they can’t survive with these stop-start lockdowns.”

55% of surveyed participants also said they wanted the power to turn away unvaccinated guests.

A social media post has been doing the rounds urging the introduction of a Green Pass model similar to what has rolled out in countries including France.

Rockpool chef Corey Costelloe posted on Instagram: “Australia needs a #greenpassforhospitality. In solidarity with our fellow hospitality workers in Europe and in some parts of the US, we are pushing for a Green Pass model to be set up in Australia so that our beloved industry can have a hope of survival. As has been rolled out in the construction industry here, we are calling on the government to recognise that eligible workers who have been fully vaccinated should be allowed back to work. And that vaccinated guests that love drinking and dining with us should be allowed back in venue – especially considering socially distanced and al fresco dining options.

“To our industry; it starts with us. If you’re sick of being out of work or packing takeaway over half shifts, let’s get vaccination numbers up and rally together and for each other. Our incredible world-class hospitality and tourism industry is bleeding to death and we are now demanding action. Please share with fellow hospo workers and force the government to open us up ASAP.”

First pub vaccination centre opens

The first vaccination hub in a NSW pub has been created at Armatree Hotel in western NSW.

The hotel, owned by Ash Walker, recently teamed up with the Royal Flying Doctor Service NSW / ACT (RFDS) to provide people living in surrounding communities with a potentially life-saving COVID vaccine jab.

One doctor and two nurses from the RFDS delivered first Pzifer inoculations to more than 200 locals from across the district on Saturday, August 21 and will return to the pub in three weeks’ time to deliver second doses.

“The RFDS are based in Walgett at the moment, they had a spare day and asked if they could use the pub because it is central and well known,” Walker said.

“We organised it all in 24 hours and people travelled huge distances to come in here and get vaccinated, and get some take away food and drinks as well.

“It was great for the community, who are pretty isolated out here and can’t wait to be back sitting together in the public bar.”

Hotel chiefs beg government to save hospitality industry

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