The ailing hospitality sector is calling for an immediate lift of restrictions and additional financial relief following another week of falling revenues.
The Restaurant Association is conducting a weekly survey of its members to gain feedback. After a third week at Level 2 it reports that 60 percent of members are reporting a fall in revenues compared with the same trading period last year with 22 percent calling the losses significant.
The survey of Restaurant Association members ranks the single server rule as the single most challenging aspect of operating at level 2 with maintaining physical distance ranking second.
Whilst the single server rule has now been amended to the ‘greatest extent practicable’ it still means there is still significant onus on the industry to be providing a single server. The association is also acutely aware that many members of the public will still be largely unaware of this amendment.
“The feedback from our members is distressing to say the least,” said Restaurant Association CEO Marisa Bidois.
“These two restrictions alone are proving extremely restrictive. The additional costs required to lay on more staff is significantly increasing wage bills and with fewer tables to serve, for many it’s making the cost of reopening too high. We have schools and offices back, sports practises starting and people able to shop relatively freely and yet our industry appears to be working under far more draconian regulations.”
Bidois went on to note that anecdotal feedback from members has also shown that managing customer expectations has also proved a challenge. Many customers do not understand the single server requirement, or the time it takes to manage service in this way, and understandably would prefer a more seamless service experience.
“Counter service is available now for only those businesses that do not serve alcohol. This is unreasonably limiting for bars as well as cafes, many of whom have liquor licenses and we would prefer to see that the rule applies only to all business that can meet the physical distancing requirements,” added Bidois.
Whilst the extension to the wage subsidy has helped it’s only going to apply to businesses sitting at a 50 percent loss, which completely undermines the needs of those sitting at 20, 30 and 40 percent losses which are still considerable for an industry where profit margins are typically lower than 10 percent.
“The losses for our industry are now mounting and with no word on additional relief or a code of conduct for commercial leases, to say our hospitality businesses are battling is an understatement,” Bidois concluded.
The Restaurant Association’s survey asked questions including: What is working a well at Level 2? The number one answer to this question was ‘Nothing’ – a clear reflection of the frustrations being felt throughout the industry.
You can view a snapshot of the Level 2, week 3 survey here.
What has your Level 2 experience been? How would you answer the survey’s questions for your business? Let us know by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org