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Brisbane hospitality staff struggling, industry says

Mr Gambaro said his group had recognised the seriousness of the situation weeks ago and began meeting staff to keep them informed of what was happening in the group.

“Are we concerned about their mental health? 100 per cent,” Mr Gambaro said.

“We’re concerned about everyone in Brisbane’s mental health. It’s not just about us, it’s about us all coming together and supporting small businesses, local businesses, whatever you can.”

Chris Edwards, managing director of Australian Catering Services, said his own company had cut staff from more than 100 to just eight in the past few weeks, after recording a 95 per cent drop in week-to-week trade.

His company provides catering for major sporting events, and Brisbane’s function centres and entertainment venues.

“We’ve had a massive impact. It’s happened so quickly and it’s happened in a way that we don’t know the end date, so it’s making it extremely difficult to manage,” Mr Edwards said.

Companies are looking to boost delivery options through UberEats and other delivery services in a bid to keep restaurants and cafes open, and keep cashflow moving.

Mr Edwards said one example was working with UberEats to reduce the payment terms from seven days to one day in a bid to get money back into the industry.

He warned that the mental toll on so many catering staff, chefs and hospitality workers would be significant as work was lost and staff stayed at home.

“Mental health is a massive issue in hospitality,” he said.

“Losing shifts, losing work, is going to make that even more challenging for a lot of our industry.

“I can’t overstate how big that’s going to be and how much attention we need to place on it straightaway to make sure the effects of this downturn and the associated loss of work and the uncertainty about work is going to create for our workforce. It’s going to be huge.”

Lord mayor Adrian Schrinner said Brisbane City Council had waived all business-related charges and fees to assist companies in survival, budgeting $7.9 million to waive those fees for the next three months.

“We will do everything we can to support our businesses through this extraordinary time and business charges, rent, fees or permits required to be paid will be waived until at least June 30, 2020. Businesses that have paid these fees since March 1 will have them refunded,” he said.

“We will also be refunding all fees or charges for events cancelled due to COVID-19.”

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