COVID-19 Hits Hospitality

How did we get here, and where are we going?

By: Worksmith

We wake up each day and our new reality hits us like a tonne of bricks - our industry is crumbling and on the brink of collapse. When this is finally over (and it will be), the rebuild will be monumentally difficult, but it will happen, and we will get through this.

To plan ahead, it’s important to know where we currently stand. So, where is the hospitality right now? In Australia, it looks a little something like this.

In February this year, Asian restaurants (particularly Chinese) in Australia felt the brunt of the public’s initial fears (and poorly masked ignorance/racism) with a reported 80% drop in business. Restaurants that had thrived for more than thirty years were closed in a matter of weeks. As the virus spread, so too did information about it. Italian restaurants were next to see a drop in customers, and, with that, as did restaurant suppliers. Eventually, the entire industry has felt the wrath of this COVID-19. The measures required to flatten the curve are incredibly important, but they’ve also proven detrimental to our industry.

It is March 26th, and murmurs of a stage three lockdown by the end of this week are spreading. SO what can we do? there are 1,150,000 jobs in hospitality at risk. There are thousands of bars, restaurants, cafes and F&B business that are shuttered indefinitely. Thousands who have drastically switched business models to stay afloat - for now. Thousands who have no idea what’s next. On the positive side? Nobody knows what’s next.

It remains to be seen how this industry that we love so much will recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Not just in Australia, but across the globe (when we compare our current status with our friends in London, New York, Beijing, it’s a welcome, albeit self-indulgent comparison). How the hell do we all bounce back from this? For those smaller restaurants, bars and cafes, to truly survive the crisis, something drastic will need to be done. Shifting your business models to include takeaway might be enough for now, but who’s to know what next week - or even today - will bring.

Certainly, there are Government and charitable funds in place, but we all know the margins in this business, and without a mass-bailout, who knows what will emerge when this thing passes.

Two things we must remember - this will pass, and we will all emerge from this together. We must hope for the best, but plan for every single possible version of the worst. At this stage, it’s the only way to act.