Businesses continue to struggle as WA’s open border fails to ease staff shortages

In Attractions, Business Resources, Featured Home Page News, Government, Western Australia

WA’s open border failed to ease staff shortages in hospitality businesses, as they have struggled through one of the busiest Easter long weekends in recent years.

Businesses in the Margaret River have soldiered on despite low staff numbers. It has left some customers with a bad taste in their mouths, leaving negative customer reviews about wait times for food of up to an hour.

Annie McFie, chief executive of the Margaret River Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said

“We’ve traditionally had the backpacker seasonal travellers that have filled a lot of our hospitality and obviously work in our wineries, but we’re not seeing that return as yet.

“We’re hoping to see that as the borders soften even more.”

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From ABC News 21.4.22

Hospitality businesses have struggled through one of the busiest Easter long weekends in recent years, as WA’s open border failed to ease staff shortages that have plagued the industry during the pandemic.

The growing spread of COVID-19 through regional communities put further pressure on staff, with many having to isolate.

While businesses in the popular tourist town of Margaret River soldiered on during the long weekend despite low staff numbers, it left some customers with a bad taste in their mouths.

Some received negative customer reviews about wait times for food of up to an hour, prompting business owners to ask patrons to rethink negative remarks about issues out of their control.

Wine glasses hang from a cabinet at a bar
Staff may get work but find it hard to secure accommodation.(ABC South West: Sam Bold)

Bad reviews hurt small businesses

Richard Moroney operates a burger bar in Margaret River that had a 200 per cent increase in turnover on Easter Saturday.

He said local businesses were growing tired of commentary around wait times.

“We don’t mind when we get it wrong to get that feedback, it’s really important, but when people leave a review, they should be leaving it about the food and the service.

“I think customers have to remember that we get up in the morning and we work really hard.”

A sign reminding patrons of a bar they must be vaccinated.
Check-in QR codes are no longer required at cafes but proof of vaccination must be shown.(ABC South West: Sam Bold)

No end in sight for staff shortages

Annie McFie, chief executive of the Margaret River Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the busy period was putting a huge amount of pressure on hospitality businesses.

“It’s certainly difficult when people are not showing possibly the patience and kindness that they might under the circumstances,” Ms McFie said.

The opening of interstate and international borders had yet to fill labour gaps in the region, she said.

“We’re hoping to see that as the borders soften even more.”

She urged patrons visiting the region this Anzac Day long weekend to be patient and book ahead.

Since the long weekend, the South West region has recorded its highest daily COVID-19 caseload on record — 508 new cases were recorded on Tuesday.

About 85.6 per cent of people in the region have had a third dose of the COVID vaccination.

Housing shortages compound lack of staff

Some Great Southern businesses in a similar predicament have either shut temporarily or closed for good.

Albany Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Lisa Smith said staff shortages would persist until housing availability improved.

“There is an abundance of jobs and the labour shortage is caused by people not being able to find adequate housing within the regions,” Ms Smith said.

“People want to live without the threat of homelessness hanging over them because of the way the housing market is going.”

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