29/04/2022 - 15:27

Unmasking the benefits of new venue rules

29/04/2022 - 15:27

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The hospitality industry is hoping changes to COVID-19 restrictions will boost trade after months of low patronage.

Unmasking the benefits of new venue rules
Andy Freeman owns several CBD-based venues including Varnish on King and The Flour Factory. Photo: Gabriel Oliveira

The hospitality industry is hoping changes to COVID-19 restrictions will boost trade after months of low patronage.

As of 12:01am last night, capacity restrictions have lifted and masks are only required in high-risk settings like public transport, aged care homes and hospitals.

Peak bodies including the Property Council of Australia WA Division and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of WA had been calling for the mask mandate to end for weeks over concerns it was reducing foot traffic in the CBD and hurting businesses. 

Sneakers & Jeans Hospitality Group chief executive Andy Freeman, who owns CBD-based venues including Varnish on King and The Flour Factory, said the past two years had been “tragic” for the industry and his team was excited to welcome people back this weekend.

“Enjoy yourself, indulge, we are ready for you,” Mr Freeman said.

“We are excited, our staff have got beautiful white teeth that you haven’t seen for a long time so we are really excited to show you what we can do.”

Australian Hotels Association WA chief executive Bradley Woods said it was fantastic knowing the hospitality business could resume at full capacity. 

“Today is a celebration of not wearing masks, not having restrictions on capacity numbers in hospitality businesses and after two years of restrictions with COVID, it’s a day for all West Australians to celebrate, particularly those operating and working in hospitality businesses in the state,” Mr Woods said.

He said the first few months of 2022 had been very damaging for the industry, with some businesses on the cusp of closing due to COVID-19 restrictions and low consumer confidence. 

In an effort to draw people back to the CBD, the Property Council’s WA branch today launched a four-week campaign, offering $65,000 in prizes.

Mr Woods called on the state government to offer more incentives and implement a voucher system to encourage people to spend again, like those established in New South Wales and South Australia.

“It was very effective in getting the community out and about and spending again and that’s something that we would want the state government to consider seriously,” Mr Woods said.

He said the attention of the industry was now turning towards growing a workforce again. 

The easing of restrictions has also been welcomed by people in the events industry.

The recent changes means food and wine festival Taste Great Southern’s thirty events can go ahead at full capacity.

The event, due to start on May 5 and run until May 15, is expected to attract more than 6,000 locals, intrastate and interstate visitors to the events that feature more than 20 chefs from WA, including Young George and Ethos Deli+Dining Room executive chef and co-owner Melissa Palinkas and Fervor chef Paul Iskov.

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