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Restrictions will be placed on the volume of alcohol people can buy. Photo: Gabriel Oliveira

Alcohol restrictions considered, hospitality sector shuts down

Volume restrictions on alcohol sales will be required to ensure staff safety and avoid public panic buying, according to Australian Hotels Association WA chief executive Bradley Woods.

Mr Woods said AHA WA was working with the government to determine what these restrictions would be.

The announcement comes a day after the federal government announced it would close pubs, restaurants, clubs, entertainment venues, cinemas, casinos, nightclubs, indoor sports venues, including gyms, and places of worship from midday today, in a bid to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Mr Woods said the restrictions had left the accommodation and hospitality industry facing its biggest challenge in living memory.

“This is a heart-breaking and challenging day for thousands of business owners and the 50,000 staff they employ across the state,” he said.

While the government said restaurants and cafes could offer takeaway, Mr Woods said AHA WA was working with the government and relevant authorities to get clarification on how takeaway food and drinks sales could occur.

“Our industry is at the coalface of the restrictions that come into effect at midday so it is critical that venues can maintain takeaway trade under these new restrictions so as to minimise job losses and cater to the needs of the community,” he said.

“Venues are also under immense financial pressure and uncertainty and we are providing advice on economic assistance that is available from the state and federal government as well as financial institutions.

“We are also providing ongoing feedback to the federal government on further assistance that will be required for some businesses.

“While the assistance to date has been comprehensive, we know there are some gaps that need to be addressed to ensure all businesses and employees have access to adequate support.”

Commenting on the closures today, Premier Mark McGowan said he understood the measures put in place could be potentially devastating for many businesses and their employees.

“My heart goes out to those people, who have built up their businesses from scratch and now have had their lives turned upside down,” he said.

“If we don’t go down this path, more and more people will be infected with COVID-19 and it will risk putting a significant strain on our health system.”

One of the many restaurants forced to close is The Heritage Wine Bar in Perth.

However, owner Ed Wolkowinski said he was determined to keep his business open in some capacity and has come up with a creative solution at short notice.  

Takeaway was not an option for the restaurant, so instead it decided to become an online providore with contact free pick-up and home delivery.

“For some restaurants, takeaway options of their existing menu works but the style of our food doesn’t suit being on the backseat of a car for 20 minutes,” Mr Wolkowinski said.

“We also don’t have the support of a local neighbourhood as we’re based in the CBD which is effectively now a ghost town.

“We decided to pivot to become an online providore with contact free pickup and home delivery within 30 kilometres of the Perth CBD.

The venue will offer ready-made meals that needed to be heated up, butcher’s meat boxes, a fruit and vegetable box and wines from its wine list.

“Our liquor licence permits takeaway sales so we’re also able to offer wine by the bottle or case as part of this service,” he said.

“It’s been a crazy week but we’ve come up with an entire product line, photographed it, tested the dishes and how they cook in a domestic oven, built an online shop and been working out how we can let people know about it as quickly as possible.

“Time is everything right now, every week the business doesn’t have revenue puts us in a more precarious position.”