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Fifteen Percent of Melbourne's Hospitality Venues Are Unlikely to Reopen After Lockdown

A recent City of Melbourne survey revealed some concerning data about the hospitality industry.
By Libby Curran
July 22, 2020
By Libby Curran
July 22, 2020

It's no secret Melbourne's hospitality industry has been hit hard by COVID-19, between the impacts of social distancing regulations and now two long stretches of lockdown restrictions. Venues have had the tough gig of farewelling dine-in customers and pivoting to takeaway-only models, while others have had little choice but to close their doors completely for weeks at a time.

As Victoria rides its second wave of Stage 3 lockdowns, the realities of a post-COVID hospitality scene are starting to sink in. According to numbers from a recent survey by the City of Melbourne, 15 percent of local hospitality businesses have either confirmed they won't reopen, or aren't sure they'll be able to keep running.

During the first lockdown earlier this year, the council spoke with 725 hospitality business owners through its dedicated COVID-19 Business Concierge Hotline, which was set up to gauge the impact of the pandemic and highlight areas in need of support. And the data showed some pretty bleak results, revealing that over half those businesses surveyed had been at least temporarily shuttered by the lockdowns.

"Only 45 per cent of our food businesses said they've been able to keep operating through the pandemic," Lord Mayor Sally Capp told Concrete Playground. "They've shown real innovation in being able to offer takeaway or implement physical distancing requirements."

Julia Sansone

According to the numbers, 40 percent of hospitality businesses are currently closed, but plan on reopening when restrictions allow. On a less positive note, just over seven percent of those surveyed revealed they'll remain shut for good and another eight percent are unsure whether or not they'll be able to make a comeback — figures Mayor Capp has called "concerning".

Some big-name venues have already announced their permanent closure. One of the first was Chinatown's 30-year-old Shark Fin House, which saw an 80 percent drop in customers back in February; and Ezard, with the Flinders Lane restaurant departing after 20 years. Little Bourke Street stalwart Longrain also announced it was shutting up shop for good back in May, but then Chef Scott Pickett swooped in and is set to revive the restaurant later this year.

For hospitality businesses that are struggling, the City of Melbourne has range of economic support measures, including grants and rent relief, on offer. City of Melbourne data for 2018 showed the hospitality sector is worth a cool $2.5 billion to Melbourne's economy each year, employing over 38,000 people.

Images: Julia Sansone

Published on July 22, 2020 by Libby Curran


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