No jab, no service: restaurant safety fears
Restaurant sector confidence has fallen since the beginning of this year. It’s a sign that the COVID-19 pandemic and its reverberations are far from over for the country’s hospitality industry. But while lockdowns and staff shortages continue to bite, a new report has found that many restaurants are also concerned about the slow vaccine rollout. Some would like the option to introduce a “no jab, no service” policy for unvaccinated customers.
According to the latest Deliveroo HospoVitality Index Report, only 46 percent of restaurants feel positive about the future of hospitality. This is down from 59 percent in January. A fifth of all restaurants feel negative about the future of the sector.
The report has revealed how many of the impacts from COVID are disproportionately affecting the hospitality industry. And it’s not just snap lockdowns and severe staff shortages that are dampening the sector’s confidence. The slow vaccine rollout is causing grave concerns for an industry so highly exposed to the public.
Almost one-quarter of restaurants surveyed for the report say they’d like to know a customer’s vaccination status. They’d also like to have the option of not serving the unvaccinated. Just over half of restaurants also say they’re concerned about serving unvaccinated customers. A “no jab, no service” rule could help to assuage these fears.
A crisis of confidence
Against a backdrop of a severe talent crunch and vaccine concerns, restaurateurs are continuing to look for ways to thrive. Six in 10 restaurants expect food delivery will play an even larger role in their business operations than before the pandemic. Among takeaway restaurants, this figure is even higher. Seventy-one percent believe that delivery will only become more important to their business.
The survey was conducted in May, just as Victoria was once again pushed into lockdown. This was prior to the recent lockdowns in Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne. In Victoria, confidence in the sector had suffered a significant decline. Confidence in NSW had also fallen. Deliveroo Australia CEO Ed McManus told news site news.com.au that if the survey were to be conducted now, this decline in confidence would be “even worse”.
While many restaurants don’t see their outlook improving much in the near future, over half are positive about their prospects a year from now. But as the sector transitions from survival to recovery, this won’t happen without the right people staffing up the industry.
Six in 10 restaurants now say that the availability of staff is the greatest challenge they face. The key to consistent recovery for the hospitality sector is enabling businesses to find the skilled workers they need. Government support is vital in this regard. Restaurant owners say they’d like government support in the relaxation of border restrictions for skilled foreign workers, support for businesses to offer training and apprenticeships and greater incentives for young people to undertake skills training.