Member for Gilmore, Fiona Phillips, is calling on the federal Government to stop ignoring local businesses on the south coast that need desperate help to remain open.
Ms Phillips says as the government has failed to make Rapid Antigen Tests freely available, enormous strain has been put on local businesses, workers, and customers.
“It’s high time the Morrison Liberal Government took some responsibility for its failed handling of this pandemic and provides support for local businesses and workers”, Mrs Phillips said.
Many local businesses have had to temporarily close or lay off staff.
One south coast business that reopens it’s doors today (Wednesday January 19) after being closed for two days due to a lack of staff, is The Wharf Local in Tathra.
Owner, Emma Benton said they’ve been experiencing staff shortages since the pandemic began but described it as particularly bad in the last three months.
“We’ve got a bit of an issue on the far south coast, as many people in the hospitality industry have had during COVID, of not being able to get enough staff in the area to cover positions available for summer,” Ms Benton said.
Listen to the full chat with local business owner, Emma Benton on COVID staff shortages below.
“It’s just really difficult for us, as soon as we have one staff member who needs to isolate or get a COVID test or who has childcare issues, to have enough staff to cover those shifts,” she said.
“We’ve been lucky to date and none of us have contracted COVID but it is an ongoing problem for us here on the coast.
“We’ve got no international staff coming in that we normally rely on, and lots of people leaving the industry (to find) a more stable industry to work in, I think people have been a bit sick of all the closures,” Ms Benton continued.
“I think the lack of affordable housing on the coast has also been an issue (in trying to) attract staff,” she said.
Ms Benton even tried to find a rental near Tathra and surrounds for her staff and couldn’t find anything, describing it as “impossible”.
Although businesses are closing when they have to, some are cutting back on services and remaining open with just skeleton staff.
“I just want to ask if people could consider how difficult it is for all of the staff who are operating under these hospitality businesses as everyone is understaffed and they’re having to deal with quite a lot,” Ms Benton said.
“It would be great if everybody could be understanding and kind to the staff who have actually made it to work that day, that would make their lives a lot better.”
The Wharf Local in Tathra, like many hospitality businesses in the south east, are on the hunt for staff and ask anyone who’s interested to reach out to them directly.
Image Credit: The Wharf Local