Australia hotels may suspend operations in coming weeks

Australia’s hotel industry, spared from government lockdown measures that came into effect midday on March 23, are still facing a bleak future amid Covid-19 impacts.

New government controls that came into effect on Monday banned restaurant in-dining, casinos, cafes, entertainment venues and indoor sports from operating in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus. It followed the closure of Australia’s borders to non-residents and non-citizens as of 21.00 last Friday.

The new lockdown rules mean any restaurant parts of hotel businesses have ceased operations with the exception of food deliveries to rooms or take-away orders.

Hotels have been classified as an essential service, allowing the industry to continue functioning. But with occupancy at just 10 to 20 per cent, Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA) is warning the weeks ahead could see hotels closing until further notice.

For the moment hotel staff have been spared job losses as their employers are given the option to keep them on as non-paid employees until things improve or the new lockdowns, which could last six months, are lifted. Staff will also get government support in the form of an allowance, usually reserved for job seekers, which has been increased by an extra A$550 (US$328) to more than A$1,100 fortnightly if they meet the requirements for the maximum benefit.

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