Big pubs to stay shut another eight weeks
A MAJOR hotel operator says the National Cabinet's plan to reopen dining venues is unfair on big venues that would be restricted to the same number of patrons as small cafes.
Rob Comiskey, director of the Comiskey Group which owns and operates the Eatons Hill and Sandstone Point Hotels, said the limit on numbers would mean his pubs would stay shut for at least another eight weeks.
Both hotels also host large indoor and outdoor concerts featuring leading acts.
The Queensland Government today adopted the National Cabinet rules with and announced from May 16 up to 10 people would be allowed to dine in at restaurants, pubs and clubs, increasing to 20 people on June 13 and 100 on July 10.
Mr Comiskey said the first stage of the relaxation would mean a small restaurant could have the same number of customers as much larger venues such as his.
He said restaurants with 40sq m dining areas could have 10 people, giving them 4sq m each.
"I could have one per 10sq m and still be able to operate successfully (seating 350 people), and I can't do that," he said.
"Sandstone Point is even worse. We've got 7ha of site (licenced) - we're allowed 10 people.
"It would take more than 10 (staff) to open.
"I can't see how you can open with 10 or 20 people. The expenses would be more than the turnover, even if you take into account JobKeeper.
"We were hoping in some ways to be open in June. Now we'll have to stay shut now at least until July 11.
"The one rule fits all doesn't work and it can't work.
"I understand what they are trying to do and I support their efforts, I'm not rubbishing them on that, I just don't understand the rules.
"It's pretty devastating for us, we've got another eight weeks of this, at least."
He questioned why businesses could not apply for exemptions now, as they would be able to in stage three of the reopening plan.
Staying closed is proving an expensive exercise for the Comiskey Group. Its revenue has dropped 85 per cent but it is still keeping 200 staff on its books.
Despite the Federal Government's JobKeeper scheme paying staff, the company has to borrow $600,000 a month to cover the cost of the scheme until it is reimbursed (monthly).
Also, it is paying entitlements such as holiday and sick pay.
Mr Comiskey said it cost $50,000 a month just to keep staff, even after JobKeeper.
Originally published as Big pubs to stay shut another eight weeks