Ash Walker, Publican at the Armatree Hotel near Gilgandra with his dog Nell.
Ash Walker, Publican at the Armatree Hotel near Gilgandra with his dog Nell.

‘Worst days’: 70,000 jobs lost in pubs and hotels

They have survived bushfires, floods, droughts and even wars, always there for a quick drink, a catch-up with mates or just a place to gather.

But the state's hotel and pub industry is facing it's "worst days in more than 100 years" with nearly 95 per cent of jobs lost because of the coronavirus lockdown.

A staggering 70,452 employees have been stood down from a total workforce of 75,000 since the start of the outbreak, according to exclusive data released by Australian Hotels Association (AHA) NSW.

AHA NSW president Scott Leach said a typical country pub is losing up to $35,000 a month.
AHA NSW president Scott Leach said a typical country pub is losing up to $35,000 a month.

And 20,812 of those workers have been laid off permanently due to COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.

"We have faced bushfires, floods, droughts and wars alongside the communities we serve but never has our industry been impacted like this," AHA NSW president Scott Leach said.

"The industry is not in hibernation - bills keep coming in - land tax, company tax, council rates and electricity and gas to name a few, with little or no support.

"Your typical country pub is losing $25-35,000 a month - again with no money coming in, there really is a limit to how much debt can accumulate before many will be forced to close their doors for good.

Armatree Hotel near Gilgandra publican Ash Walker said he has had to lay off all 12 of his casuals.
Armatree Hotel near Gilgandra publican Ash Walker said he has had to lay off all 12 of his casuals.

"We have put health first and we are proud of that, but we need to make sure businesses survive so we are there to re-employ our people when recovery does come."

Ash Walker, owner of The Armatree Hotel north of Gilgandra, said he had to lay off all his casual staff, in what's usually the hotel's peak season.

"Our profits are back about 84 per cent," Mr Walker said.

"We do a lot of weddings, March and April should be our busiest months but we've had to lay off all 12 of our casuals.

"We do hope to re-employ them at some stage but even our permanent staff are only doing 40 to 50 per cent of their normal hours."

 

AHA NSW chief executive John Whelan said he is hopeful the industry will bounce back.
AHA NSW chief executive John Whelan said he is hopeful the industry will bounce back.

Mr Walker said that although he remains hopeful his business will bounce back in the future, in the meanwhile times are tough.

"If it weren't for the local community spirit, we'd probably be bashing our heads up against the wall a bit," he said.

"We're now open four afternoons a week for takeaways, but we were operating seven full days prior to lockdown.

"I'm quite cautious about the restart, I'm quite hesitant, the world is going to be a different place after this, the focus really needs to be on inland tourism within Australia."

AHA NSW chief executive John Whelan said the industry would hopefully bounce back.

"Sadly, these figures speak for themselves, the virus has devastated hotels and our workforce," he said.

"We look forward to the day when we can safely re-open our doors, re-employ our staff and pour a cold draught beer for our patient patrons."

Originally published as 'Worst days': 70,000 jobs lost in NSW pubs and hotels


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