The Shout Magazine (New Zealand)

Epidemic Response Committee meets with unhappy pub owners

The Epidemic Response Committee has meet with pub owners and tourism operators who are continuing to struggle with the financial impact of COVID-19 on their businesses.

Hospitality business owners are seeking further assistance from the Government for losses during and following the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Epidemic Response Committee is a group of 11 MPs, the majority of whom are in Opposition, who meet via video conference with the purpose of holding the Government to account on its coronavirus response. 

Reg Hennessy, owner of Hennessy’s Irish Bar in Rotorua, spoke to the ERC, saying he and his partner have been tested mentally during the 58 days that they have been unable to trade.

Hennessy’s Irish Bar

Hennessy said he has lost tens of thousands of dollars during that time and the only support he received from the government was the wage subsidy.

However, even that subsidy didn’t cover all costs for his 14 staff.

“We also had to carry on paying ACC, Kiwisaver, there were ongoing costs, it wasn’t like you just got the wage subsidy and there were no other costs to pay staff,” he said.

Hennessy said that the new rules have meant they have had to spend even more money over the past few weeks to make sure the pub is safe for patrons.

“We’re close to $20,000 we have spent in the last couple of weeks that we would never have spent if it wasn’t for the lockdown,” he said.

Hennessy said the tax exemptions the Government announced for businesses will help – but that he, and other hospitality businesses, need assistance immediately.

Anthony Hall from The Still Room gastropub in Wellington told the ERC that while they are hoping business will be up 50% in the coming weeks, that is doesn’t cover further staff costs during Level 2.

“Usually we could do with one or two staff members per shift but we now require three or four. The wage costs become more significant and that is quote specific to the hospitality industry.”

For full coverage of the meeting, click here.

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