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‘Industry faces biggest challenge in living memory’: AHA WA CEO Bradley Woods

AHA WA CEO, Bradley Woods

The Australian Hotels Association (AHA) CEO, Bradley Woods, says the industry is facing its ‘biggest challenge in living memory’ due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and here, he looks at some of the many implications for the state’s hospitality operators.

The restrictions announced [on Sunday] to close on-premise operations of WA’s licensed venues from midday yesterday (Mar 23) has the state’s accommodation and hospitality industry facing its biggest challenge in living memory.

This is a heart-breaking and challenging day for thousands of business owners and the 50,000 staff they employ across the state.

Hotels, restaurants, bars, pubs and taverns are an essential part of our communities and play a critical role in maintaining social cohesion and engagement.

These are tough times for an industry that would ordinarily help to boost morale when people need it most. The local pub has always been a place where people gathered together to share stories and find solace in difficult times.

We are [currently] working closely with the State Government and relevant authorities to get urgent clarification on how takeaway food and alcohol sales can occur.

There will be volume restrictions on alcohol. This is to ensure staff safety and avoid the panic buying that we sadly saw with respect to toilet paper and other essential items. We are working cooperatively with state regulators to determine what these restrictions will be.

Our industry is at the coalface of the restrictions that come into effect at midday (yesterday) so it is critical that venues can maintain takeaway trade under these new restrictions so as to minimise job losses and cater to the needs of the community.

Our priority as an association is to provide regular, practical and meaningful advice and assistance to affected venues who are managing a number of complex and delicate matters including stand down and staff redundancies.

Venues are also under immense financial pressure and uncertainty and we are providing advice on economic assistance that is available from the State and Federal Government as well as financial institutions.

We are also providing ongoing feedback to the Federal Government on further assistance that will be required for some businesses. While the assistance to date has been comprehensive, we know there are some gaps that need to be addressed to ensure all businesses and employees have access to adequate support.

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