Australian pubs could stay shut despite COVID-19 exit plan
Australian pub-goers could see their favourite watering holes stay shut despite a plan to ease coronavirus restrictions across the country.
The Australian Hotels Association says the road map to recovery is inconsistent and could force some hotels and pubs shut permanently.
“Hotels have been left blindsided,” chief executive Stephen Ferguson said yesterday.
“They basically will not be able to reopen their businesses until stage three of the recovery process.”
Mr Ferguson said the plan failed to account for venues with large floor space and most would be forced to remain closed.
“We are told only 10 people can sit and have a meal in a pub restaurant area even if that area could safely socially distance 50 or 100,” he said “Why can only 10 people be allowed in a dining area of a huge venue that could safely socially distance 120?”
People are cramming into supermarkets and work side-by-side on building sites, he said. “Where is the consistency?”
He warned that many operators were already struggling with mounting debts after being closed for more than a month and the recovery plan could force some to close their doors permanently.
“Hotels have done the right thing, put the health of staff and patrons first the moment this pandemic hit – and we will continue to do so – but common sense needs to prevail here too,” he said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison yesterday revealed a three-step plan to end coronavirus restrictions and create a “COVID-safe society and economy” by July.
The framework was agreed to by state and territory leaders at yesterday’s national cabinet meeting, but each will get the final say on how quickly they move through the stages based on the status of the disease.
“We know we need to be careful to preserve our gains, (but if we wish to reclaim the ground we lost, we cannot be too timid,” Mr Morrison told reporters.