AHA says Victoria’s pubs ‘bleeding with debt’

Articles published under the media release byline are news produced by the relevant business and remain unedited by Brews News. This release was issues by the Australian Hotels Association (Victoria).

Victorian hotels and pubs will ‘bleed further with debt and face going over the cliff’ under the extension of the Stage 4 COVID-19 virus restrictions announced by the Andrews government today.

AHA (Vic) President David Canny said Victoria’s pub industry is bitterly disappointed with further delays to re-opening, placing publicans on a ‘debt cliff’ which will see many not meeting Premier Daniel Andrews’ desire for a ‘family Christmas’.

Mr Canny said moving the thresholds again placed further anxiety on hotel and pubs owners and their employees. AHA (Vic) has 1450 members employing more than 52,000 people and contributing $4.2 billion to the State’s Gross State Product (GSP).

“These decisions are going to change the whole hospitality landscape from which it may never recover,” he said. “We are on the verge of becoming a ‘welfare state’ if our members are any indication as to the impact that lockdown restrictions are having on us.

“Closing down the industry is the easiest decision the government can make. The hardest is for our people to deal with mounting debt, employee welfare and mental health and not being the ‘community hub’ for many of our patrons and the broader community.

“Our country pubs and those in other states have proven the hospitality industry can comply with restrictions and minimise cases. We believe we can achieve this here.”

Mr. Canny said it was now time for the Victorian Government to look to the expertise from New South Wales and Queensland who have a proven ability to manage the risks related to hospitality businesses and the broader economy in order to re-emerge from COVID-19 restrictions.

He said Victorian pubs had proven they can manage the COVID-19 risks by implementing plans for social distancing, superior hygiene practices, digital contact tracing and robust measures for patron management. Pubs know they can comply with all the requirements.

“We are frustrated with the lack of consideration for business interests and the potential for massive job losses for the staff employed in the industry,” he said.

“We have ongoing mounting fixed costs – electricity bills, insurance, Council rates and lease of equipment of which there is no relief. Each pub has a limit of just how much debt it can take before decisions are made to close the business for good. This is the cliff we are now facing.

“Local pubs are on the debt cliff and will never recover if they cannot re-open soon. We could lose the iconic corner pub because of the debt the Victorian Government restrictions have put on them.

“We are on the edge of that debt cliff and unless Government commences our re-opening then it is over we go.”

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