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“Heartbreaking”: Industry staring into the abyss

Some 90,000 hospitality workers were stood down this week as Australia’s coronavirus restrictions forced the closure of restaurants, bars, clubs, cinemas and casinos nationwide.

And another 200,000 are set to be laid off over the next three months, according to figures reported to the government, as employers scramble to try and hibernate staff positions rather than permanently cut them.

Bradley Woods, chief of the Australian Hotel WA, described the situation as “heart-breaking and challenging” for the state’s hospitality employees.

The association’s national branch issued a statement saying the shutdown was “unprecedented in our peacetime history” and warning it would have “a devastating effect” on the 250,000 people it directly employs.

Minister for government services, Stuart Robert, is meanwhile predicting the job losses are far higher than those being quoted, saying “maybe a million” people have been left unemployed following the shutdown of so many sectors.

ClubsNSW says the closures are devastating for the 63,000 people, half of whom live regionally, who rely on clubs for a living.

More than 20,000 casino jobs will be lost or mothballed nationwide, with Crown’s 18,500-strong workforce due to be decimated.

Justin Hemmes’ Merivale group has suspended most of its 3000 hospitality staff, vowing they will remain employees of the group.  

“I am completely heartbroken that this is happening but remain focused on the light at the end of the tunnel,” Mr Hemmes told the Sydney Morning Herald.

While accommodation has not been included on the list of sectors ordered to close, Accommodation Association chief executive Deal Long says lockdowns and travel bans are making operation impossible for providers.

“Hotels facing occupancies of ten percent or less across the country will have no other recourse but to close their doors,” he told AccomNews. 

“We understand the importance of protecting everyone’s health, but the harsh reality is that there is no longer any demand and therefore no work for most of our industry.”

The sector employs 86,100 people directly, and Long says the association’s modelling shows 50,000 jobs are likely to be lost across Australia within the next 90 days without significant government help.

Tourism Accommodation Australia chief Michael Johnson described accom as “very much decimated at the moment”.

“It’s been the direst of weeks for the industry,” he told AccomNews. “TAA is just trying to keep providing members with the information they need and support them through the worst situation we have ever seen”.

Kate Jackson

Kate Jackson is the editor of Accomnews. You can reach her at any time with questions or submissions: [email protected]

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