Many pubs and clubs around the country have decided to remain closed despite state governments allowing them to trade with 10 patrons.
Some doubt that even Stage Two restrictions being introduced, which will allow 20 patrons, will change their decision.
For many pubs and clubs, both large and small, the maths isn’t adding up – the expensive involved in reopening outweighs the benefits.
Solotel Group and Merivale have both decided to concentrate on their new takeaway and home dining businesses until restrictions ease further. And Australian Venue Co, which manages 150 venues nationwide, including 13 in Sydney and one in rural NSW, has decided to open just four of its venues.
All registered clubs in Port Stephens are staying closed.
The Shoal Bay Country Club (above) told News Of The Area the easing of restrictions wasn’t enough to justify opening its doors and it will stick to providing takeaway.
“Unfortunately we won’t be opening as part of stage one restrictions despite being allowed to sit 10 patrons,” said the statement.
“It is simply not viable at this stage. We will consider our position at stage two, but even then it may not be possible.”
The owner of Norwood’s Robin Hood Hotel, Matthew Binns, told ABC News he would need a minimum of 50 people in his pub to make it viable to open on June 5.
“We’re going to lose less money by staying closed,” he said.
“We’re racking up plenty of debts being closed as it is and I think the problem we’ve got is some of the people making decisions on our transition committee are out of touch with the reality of small business and the pain they’re going through.”
The Australian Hotels Association said the average pub is losing $35,000 a month during COVID-19 restrictions.
Ballarat’s Red Lion publican and Australian Hotels Association Victorian president David Canny (pictured main) told The Courier that it was “welcome news” that pubs in the state could reopen on June 1, but expressed concerns about the hardship many publicans were facing.
“We hope that all pubs do reopen and there is no collateral damage with this,” he said. “If there are some that don’t, that would be devastating for us.”
Small bars fight to survive
Small bars are also uncertain about the benefits of reopening.
Joy Ng at Sydney’s Bearded Tit bar told The Guardian: “I sat down with my bookkeeper and we looked at the numbers and we’ll just lose too much money.
“If we want the best chance of reopening again … we can’t pay out the little money that we have left on losing trade.”
The bars that have reopened have faced obstacles such as patrons not turning up when they’ve booked a table.
Surry Hills cocktail bar and restaurant Low 302 (above) revealed on Facebook that a party of four didn’t turn up for their reservation this week.
Owner Aref Jaroud wrote an angry open letter to the no-shows: “Hi Aimee. We thank you for making a booking at Low for four people. Right now that is 40% of our entire capacity.
“The thing is Aimee, you didn’t show up for your booking. You didn’t have the common courtesy to call us up and cancel. We had people on a waiting list who would have been happy to take your reservation.
“Maybe you have no idea the financial impact this has on a restaurant right now. Maybe you don’t care.
“You have single handedly set the worst of precedence for our entire industry at this most difficult time. Furthermore you have put us in the position of having to now ask other bookings to pay a deposit when booking. Something we really wanted to avoid having to do.
“Aimee, there is a special place for you to burn in hospo hell.”
Another venue owner commented: “I know how you feel. This happened to us on Sunday at lunch, we had a booking for a table of five not show up. The worst think is we had turned away 15 other people. All I can say is stay strong.”