Plea for country’s ‘most restricted’ state
Cafes, restaurants and catering companies are calling for the SA government to provide more support to the hospitality sector, including a targeted voucher like in NSW.
The Restaurant and Catering Industry Association of Australia say with the state's current restrictions in place, it is the most restricted state in the country.
The peak body has sent a detailed proposal to the South Australian Government with the hope it will lead to a prompt easing of restrictions to allow a one person per two sqm requirement instead of the one person per four sqm rule currently in place.
It is also calling for stand up drinking to be reintroduced indoors and for caps on larger venues to be lifted as it would ensure continued viability for the sector once JobKeeper payments taper off.
"The SA Government deserves to be congratulated for their handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and their ongoing support for the broader hospitality sector, with the continual easing of restrictions leaving South Australia one of the least restricted states prior to the Parafield outbreak," the proposal read.
"However, since the announcement of the first cluster in SA for months, hospitality businesses have been subject to a constantly changing regime of restrictions that, as of 1 December 2020, leave them the most restricted state across Australia."
The association said that the consequences of the restrictions would be even more severe over summer.
"As these restrictions are in place over what is traditionally the busiest season for hospitality venues, the impact is far more severe than restrictions over quieter periods such as winter," the proposal said.
"For many venues, December takings could be higher than over the entire winter quarter."
The organisation is asking for the SA Government to use a model - similar to one in NSW and the United Kingdom - where vouchers are provided to every household to spend in their local restaurant, cafe or catering businesses.
They are calling for $100 vouchers for households of two or more, or up to $50 for single person households.
R&CA believes the SA program would cost about $67.6 million, based on the calculation of there being 765,786 million households in the state with 179,119 being single-person households, according to the 2016 Census.
It is estimated about $200 million would be generated to SA's economy from the initiative.
The $500 million NSW scheme is said to bring in over $1.5 billion in economic activity, according to the R&CA.
The association's Chief Executive Wes Lambert said the scheme would help increase demand to the sector.
"We know because the vouchers are only good for food, patrons of those businesses would spend two or three times the voucher value so it would be a stimulus to our industry," he said.
A clear reopening road map and reintroducing grants worth $10,000 for small business and $25,000 for larger businesses are also being called for.
"Businesses need more assurance. If the Premier does not go back to one per two sqm in the coming days, they need a roadmap to know when they can plan with their customers," Mr Lambert said.
"If there is no ending or no potential time (restrictions could ease), there is no consumer confidence and people won't make bookings for future because their bookings might get cancelled.
"From a business point of view, December can make more revenue for one month than it can the entire three months of winter so it's important the industry is able to get back to as close to normal as possible as soon as possible."
A South Australian government spokesman said it had been a challenging period for businesses and families.
"What we know is that we were on the cusp of a second wave here in SA, with modelling showing that without swift action we were heading towards 100 cases per day in December. That would have been catastrophic," they said.
"As highlighted over the last week, we expect restrictions to go back to what they were before the Parafield Cluster emerged by mid-December.
"Only yesterday we announced a new reiteration of our Great State tourism vouchers which will launch in the new year. That will bring thousands of visitors to SA, particularly into our CBD and will boost bookings across all of our restaurants, pubs and bars."
Originally published as Plea for country's 'most restricted' state