How the perfect marriage turned into a COVID nightmare

“We were all so happy to organize the wedding,” he said.

As COVID spread, Shell sites ran out of team members, including hard-to-replace servers and chefs. “We had to cancel a huge New Year’s Eve. I couldn’t guarantee the safety of people, I couldn’t guarantee that our staff would stay safe or that we would have enough staff to be successful. “

Brett Robinson at Shell House.Credit:Carlos walters

Wes Lambert, managing director of Restaurant and Catering Australia, said almost every restaurant or cafe in Australia has been affected in one way or another by the increase in daily COVID-19 cases to 18,278 on Sunday.

To help hospitality recover when the worst was over, his organization had asked the government of New South Wales to follow South Australia’s lead and provide stimulus grants and restart another program. like last year’s Job Saver.

“At the moment, thousands of hotel businesses have simply chosen not to open for the holidays and thousands more have been forced to close due to a lack of staff or reservations, or to limit their services. , opening hours due to a lack of staff, ”he said. noted.

“The bigger issue is how to help businesses recover from lost sales due to density restrictions and abysmal consumer confidence. The only way to fix the problem is to learn with COVID-19 so that we can increase confidence, ”Lambert said.

Wes Lambert, Managing Director of Restaurant and Catering Australia, is calling on the NSW government to help the hospitality industry recover from the latest outbreak of <a class=covid cases. ” loading=”lazy” data-src=”$zoom_0.165%2C$multiply_0.4431%2C$ratio_1.5%2C$width_756%2C$x_205%2C$y_235/t_crop_custom/q_86%2Cf_auto/eb795a3b225936a7074f7567e0b6b9d6ead7b43d” height=”224″ width=”335″ data-srcset=”$zoom_0.165%2C$multiply_0.4431%2C$ratio_1.5%2C$width_756%2C$x_205%2C$y_235/t_crop_custom/q_86%2Cf_auto/eb795a3b225936a7074f7567e0b6b9d6ead7b43d,$zoom_0.165%2C$multiply_0.8862%2C$ratio_1.5%2C$width_756%2C$x_205%2C$y_235/t_crop_custom/q_62%2Cf_auto/eb795a3b225936a7074f7567e0b6b9d6ead7b43d 2x”/>

Wes Lambert, Managing Director of Restaurant and Catering Australia, is calling on the NSW government to help the hospitality industry recover from the latest outbreak of covid cases. Credit:Renée Nowytarger

Hospitality and Racing Minister Kevin Anderson said he recognizes the challenges hospitality faces with staffing. He continued to monitor options available to “help businesses stay open, keep the lights on, and keep people working.”

Reacting to Mr Lambert’s call for funding, an NSW Treasury spokesperson said that although JobSaver and the Business Grants Program ended in November and October respectively, the COVID-19 economic stimulus strategy from NSW provided $ 2.8 billion. Some ongoing programs that would help the hospitality industry included last year’s extension of Dine and Discover and Stay NSW vouchers, payroll tax cuts and a range of discounts, including funds to expand or create outdoor dining areas.

The spread of Covid in December affected sales at popular locations like Bungalow 8 on King Street Wharf.

The spread of Covid in December affected sales at popular locations like Bungalow 8 on King Street Wharf.Credit:Sydney Morning Herald

Lambert said the industry welcomed the change in the definition of close contact and the decision to reopen the economy, but “COVID-19 is raging in the community, and many hotel staff are infected or close contacts ”.

The dramatic turnaround in approach had baffled the public, Lambert said.

“The government has spent two years conditioning the public every day at 11 a.m. to worry about the number of cases. You can’t just stand up and say, ‘Don’t worry about the number of cases, but by the way, we’ve had more cases this week than we’ve had in the entire two years.

“People are voting with their feet, and what we’re hearing about are canceled reservations mainly because customers just don’t want to get COVID-19. [or worried about] vulnerable family members or travel plans, ”he said.

Lambert – whose organization represents 47,000 cafes, restaurants and catering businesses across Australia – said he opposed the closures. But mask-wearing and social distancing policies in place from mid-October to December have helped hospitality to surpass levels in 2019/2020.

Some restaurants also saw reservations spike again when the government introduced a new definition of close contact, which meant that a person visiting a restaurant was unlikely to be defined that way.

In Sydney and Melbourne, around 50 people who had canceled New Years Eve reservations changed reservations after the government announced, said Paul Waterson, managing director of Australian Venue Co.

Sales have fallen 15% nationally, said Waterson, the operator of 180 hospitality venues.

On New Years Eve, they dropped 60% as audiences moved away from crowded venues such as Untied, Cargo, and Bungalow 8.


In NSW and Victoria, sales suffered more, often because staff were isolated. “We’ve had dozens of infections mostly across NSW and Victoria,” he said. “We are doing rapid tests on staff and we are detecting a large number of asymptomatic infections. This allowed us to start isolating ourselves early. So there is definitely a bit of a virus out there. “

Mr Robinson supported the call for more support. “The entire hospitality industry hangs in the balance. He said the repeated openings and closings put hospitality facilities and their employees in a precarious position. “People rely on our business for weekly income,” he said.

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