“A huge hit”: Hospitality businesses in Brisbane face the first lockdown without JobKeeper


Pourboy cafe in South Bank, Brisbane. Source: Supplied.

Hospitality businesses in Brisbane are preparing to take a “huge hit” as they enter the first coronavirus lockdown in the country since the JobKeeper program ended on Sunday.

On Monday, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced a three-day lockdown and increased restrictions across greater Brisbane after the state recorded 10 new cases of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.

“Just like the lockdown in January, this is designed to be a circuit breaker to limit community spread as much as possible,” Palaszczuk said.

Under the lockdown, restaurants and cafes can only provide take-away or home delivery services.

Non-essential businesses including cinemas, hairdressers, beauty and personal care services and gyms must close.

Residents can only leave their homes for essential goods and services, exercise, attending work or childcare and caring responsibilities.

“A huge hit”

Sebastian Butler-White, owner of Pourboy on Brisbane’s South Bank will trade through the lockdown, selling takeaway food and drinks.

“We’re going to take a huge hit once again. It’s the second snap lockdown, and I know after the first one, it took close to two-and-a-half months to recover back to the same volumes we were doing before,” Butler-While tells SmartCompany.

Pourboy is known for its specialty coffee and so Butler-White thought it would be worthwhile to open because Pourboy is located near a vaccination hub.

But despite the clinic bringing in some foot traffic, Butler-White says the cafe is still “very, very quiet today”.

The lockdown came at a bad time given JobKeeper has ended and tourists have been forced to cancel their Easter bookings, Butler-White says.

“Things were starting to look reasonably positive for this year but I think this is going to knock us around, especially with JobKeeper finishing,” he says.

Pourboy was receiving JobKeeper for five staff members until the scheme ended on Sunday.

According to Treasury data, there were 154,000 JobKeeper recipients in Queensland in February, making Queensland the third most dependent state on the scheme in its second last month.

Hospitality to lose $50 million in revenue

The Restaurant and Catering Industry Association predicts businesses in the region will lose up to $50 million in revenue, and nearly $15 million in produce and stock that will need to be thrown away.

The association’s chief executive, Wes Lambert, said the lockdown was a “crushing blow” to businesses across south-east Queensland, and with school holidays and Easter just days away, it may spell the end for many businesses.

“This lockdown is different. There is no JobKeeper safety net for these businesses, and little to no support will be forthcoming until after the lockdown is over,” he said.


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