‘Worst is still to come’: Owner fears for industry’s future
A SUCCESSFUL restaurant owner on the Sunshine Coast says his payments will need to be waived entirely to stay in business after coronavirus restrictions are lifted.
Manfred Lorber would normally be serving a roaring trade at his Caloundra and Mooloolaba Hog's Breath Cafes, yet he said the current crisis had led to a 97 per cent drop in his revenue.
"It's been very challenging," he said. "I've had to deal with it on a day-to-day basis."
While Mr Lorber's number one concern when the virus hit was his staff's welfare, he said dealing with their different circumstances was complicated.
"I had three staff who are on a study visa that didn't get any government support," he said.
"If I had closed my doors completely, they would have been on the streets.
"Then I have the more mature workers who have bigger bills to pay, and about four junior staff who were thinking they were eligible for the JobKeeper payment and I put them on my roster to come back to work, and then the government changed the rules.
"Nothing has ever come close to the coronavirus."
As more restrictions ease in the coming months for the hospitality industry, Mr Lorber said he would need an extensive amount of support in order to reopen at full capacity.
"When I look at what I need to do now to financially survive and keep my restaurant open, the next few years are going to be very rough," he said.
"I need as much support as possible. That means rent relief, bank loan referrals or waivers.
"It doesn't help me to get a deferral of payment, I need the payments to be waived for me to successfully open up again. It does not help me if you put my payments on hold.
"It's going to be really rough for a lot of businesses for the next two years. I think the worst is still to come."
While the JobKeeper package is helping Mr Lorber with labour expenses, he said the industry would need the government to provide relief across the board to survive the pandemic.
"It's easy to criticise in hindsight," he said. "We're all dealing with the situation that we've never experienced before.
"But it's not just about the workers or the business owners, it's about everyone that is involved along the chain.
"It's also important to look after the landlords … somebody along the way will stop negotiating and everything will break down.
"If I can't negotiate with my landlord because they're not getting any support from the government, then it's not going to work."
According to new data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the accommodation and food services industry recorded a 25.4 per cent drop in jobs in Queensland between March 14 to May 2.
This was the sector impacted the most by coronavirus in the state.