Hospitality industry knocked for six with mass closures
IT WAS last drinks in a big way across Gympie region today as bars and clubs closed at noon, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Prime Minister's strict new measures to enforce social distancing and slow down the spread of the disease.
And it was last meals, except for takeaways, as the same ruling applied to restaurants and cafes.
As the virus continued to impact business across the nation, Gympie's hospitality industry was knocked for six, with hotels, clubs, restaurants and cafes shut their doors indefinitely for dining or drinking on the premises.
The virus, said to be more dangerous in older people, may pose a more serious threat in Gympie region, which has a population older (and therefore more vulnerable) than average, with a median age of 46.6 years, compared to 37.3 for Queensland overall).
Some food and liquor outlets, including Gympie's Royal Hotel, are only able to offer accommodation and some, like Gympie RSL Club, the Kandanga Hotel and Gympie's Empire Hotel in Mary St, are closed altogether until further notice.
The Queenslander Hotel transformed itself from a hotel without a bottle shop into a bottle shop with home deliveries of both beverages and food.
"We're just responding to market changes," hotel owner Allan Roberts said. "We have to.
"We have staff who are the main breadwinners for their families. We've got to keep them employed," he said.
He said his business would offer its delivery service to other food businesses, including Mamas and Papas. "We're all in this together," he said.
"See you again, sometime in the future, hopefully soon," said Paul Pilkington at Charlies Hotel, which he said would now be operating as a bottle shop only.
The hotel-based nightclub, Club 88, was closed last weekend.
"It's going to be a different way of life."
At the Royal Hotel, new owner Paul Harvey said times were very uncertain.
"Everything is so up in the air, there's no real direct guidance about what we should be preparing for.
"The biggest problem is we don't have a time frame, although the QHA estimates six months," he said.
"It's just going to be a really tough time for all of us," he said.
"We've invested in new furniture, big renovations and a new chef and business had been going up 10 to 15 per cent a week until now."
Many, including the Mount Pleasant, Victory, Jockey Club, the Australian, Phoenix, Rainbow Beach, Gunalda, Theebine, the Curra Country Club and the Kin Kin Country Life Hotel are operating bottle shops only, accompanied in many cases by the availability of takeaway meals.
"The pub's shut but the bottle shop is running like a stream, or a flood," said a spokesman for the Mount Pleasant Hotel.
At the newly renovated Australian Hotel, the bottle shop is open with takeaway food, including steaks and chicken schnitzel, said owner Rolf Mueller.
Coffee and meal outlets such as The Decks and Craft Punk in Mary Street were also only able to serve takeaways.
Tin Can Bay's Sleepy Lagoon Hotel is still open for accommodation and bottle shop business.
Gympie's Railway Hotel bottle shop will be open from 2pm to 6pm.
At Goomeri, takeaways were the rule at the Grand Hotel and the Goomeri Bakery across the road.
Restaurants and cafes across the region have either closed for the time being (as with Kingston House, Emilia's cafe and Gunabul Homestead) or have kept their doors open by specialising in takeaway meals.
"It's going to be a different way of life
The new Alchemy Southside tapas outlet is also doing takeaway business