4:20 pm 08/04/20
Update from 
QHA Chief Executive, Bernie Hogan.

Please see Bernie's message to all Members regarding the JobKeeper Update, Commercial Tenancies Rent Relief, Trading on Good Friday and Anzac Day 2020 and Gaming Tax Deferred.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION

4:38pm 06/04/20
Update from OLGR 

Please CLICK HERE to read the OLGR update to licensees about COVID-19 impact 6 April

10:00 am 06/04/20
Update from 
QHA Chief Executive, Bernie Hogan.

An update was made to the JobKeeper payment website on Sunday 5 April.

  1. BUSINESS SUPPORT:
  2. FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
  3. EMPLOYEES:
  4. EMPLOYERS:

09:30am 06/04/20
Legal Alert  / Update to the impacts of COVID-19 on employers of sponsored workers

Acting Minister Tudge announced via media release  (Saturday, 4 April 2020) that the Australian Government is making a number of changes to temporary visa holder arrangements during the COVID-19 crisis.   To ensure that QHA members can access a summary of this information please find attached an update prepared by Mullins Lawyers.

CLICK HERE FOR LEGAL ALERT

CLICK HERE FOR UPDATED FAQ's ARTICLE

09:15am 02/04/20
The impacts of COVID-19 on employers of sponsored workers

QHA Diamond Partners, Mullins Lawyers, have provided guidance for employers of visa holders.

With the effects of COVID-19 causing significant disruptions to Australian businesses, employers are looking at every option from scaling down operations, to stand downs and even redundancy.  As an employer of visa holders, you will also need to consider the impacts of COVID-19 on your sponsored workers.

CLICK HERE FOR ARTICLE

08:25am 02/04/20
Updated Jobkeeper Payments

Updated fact sheets for employers and employees:

CLICK HER FOR UPDATE ON JOBKEEPER PAYMENTS

09:37 am 01/04/20
Update from 
QHA Chief Executive, Bernie Hogan.

Please find the updated Jobkeeper Fact Sheets:

  1. BUSINESS SUPPORT:
  2. EMPLOYEES:
  3. EMPLOYERS:

06:30pm 31/3/20
Update from 
ER DEPARTMENT.

Please find attached the following updates
HIGA: Schedule L (March 2020 version). This Fact Sheet provides details on the operation of new Schedule L during the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19 Employer Q&A Information Sheet as at 31 March 2020

10:23am 31/3/20
Update from 
QHA Chief Executive, Bernie Hogan.

Dear Members,

 Today's COVID-19 update includes information regarding:

  • NEW JOBKEEPER PAYMENT - WAGE SUBSIDIES
  • INCOME SUPPORT PARTNER PAY INCOME TEST
  • COMMERCIAL AND RESIDENTIAL TENANCIES – RENT RELIEF


NEW JOBKEEPER PAYMENT - WAGE SUBSIDIES

Yesterday afternoon Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Treasurer Josh Frydenburg announced a $130 billion JobKeeper payment, which will see around 6 million workers receive a flat payment of $1,500 per fortnight through their employer, before tax.

The intent of the policy is to keep as many Australians in jobs as possible as we tackle the significant economic impact from the coronavirus. The payment will be open to eligible businesses that receive a significant financial hit caused by the coronavirus.

Under the JobKeeper Payment, businesses impacted by the Coronavirus will be able to access a subsidy from the Government to continue paying their employees. Affected employers will be able to claim a fortnightly payment of $1,500 per eligible employee from 30 March 2020, for a maximum period of 6 months.

OBLIGATIONS ON EMPLOYERS

To receive the JobKeeper Payment, employers must:

  • Register an intention to apply on the ATO website and assess that they have or will experience the required turnover decline.
  • Provide information to the ATO on eligible employees. This includes information on the number of eligible employees engaged as at 1 March 2020 and those currently employed by the business (including those stood down or rehired). For most businesses, the ATO will use Single Touch Payroll data to pre-populate the employee details for the business.
  • Ensure that each eligible employee receives at least $1,500 per fortnight (before tax). For employees that were already receiving this amount from the employer then their income will not change. For employees that have been receiving less than this amount, the employer will need to top up the payment to the employee up to $1,500, before tax. And for those employees earning more than this amount, the employer is able to provide them with a top-up.
  • Notify all eligible employees that they are receiving the JobKeeper Payment.
  • Continue to provide information to the ATO on a monthly basis, including the number of eligible employees employed by the business.

ELIGIBLE EMPLOYERS

Employers will be eligible for the subsidy if:

  • Their business has a turnover of less than $1 billion and their turnover will be reduced by more than 30 per cent relative to a comparable period a year ago (of at least a month); or
  • Their business has a turnover of $1 billion or more and their turnover will be reduced by more than 50 per cent relative to a comparable period a year ago (of at least a month)

A fact sheet for employers can be found here.

ELIGIBLE EMPLOYEES

Eligible employees are employees who:

  • Are currently employed by the eligible employer (including those stood down or re-hired);
  • Were employed by the employer at 1 March 2020;
  • Are full-time, part-time, or long-term casuals (a casual employed on a regular basis for longer than 12 months as at 1 March 2020);
  • Are at least 16 years of age;
  • Are an Australian citizen, the holder of a permanent visa, a Protected Special Category Visa Holder, a non-protected Special Category Visa Holder who has been residing continually in Australia for 10 years or more, or a Special Category (Subclass 444) Visa Holder (This temporary visa allows you to visit, study, stay and work in Australia as long as you remain a New Zealand citizen); and
  • Are not in receipt of a JobKeeper Payment from another employer.

If your employees receive the JobKeeper Payment, this may affect their eligibility for payments from Services Australia as they must report their JobKeeper Payment as income.

A fact sheet for employees can be found here. 

APPLICATION PROCESS

To register your interest with the ATO who will send you updates, click here.

Businesses with employees
Initially, employers can register their interest in applying for the JobKeeper Payment via ato.gov.au from 30 March 2020.
Subsequently, eligible employers will be able to apply for the scheme by means of an online application. The first payment will be received by employers from the ATO in the first week of May.
Eligible employers will need to identify eligible employees for JobKeeper Payments and must provide monthly updates to the ATO.
Participating employers will be required to ensure eligible employees will receive, at a minimum, $1,500 per fortnight, before tax.
It will be up to the employer if they want to pay superannuation on any additional wage paid because of the JobKeeper Payment.
Further details for businesses for employees will be provided on ato.gov.au.

Businesses without employees
Businesses without employees, such as the self-employed, can register their interest in applying for JobKeeper Payment via ato.gov.au from 30 March 2020.
Businesses without employees will need to provide an ABN for their business, nominate an individual to receive the payment and provide that individual’s Tax File Number and provide a declaration as to recent business activity.
People who are self-employed will need to provide a monthly update to the ATO to declare their continued eligibility for the payments. Payment will be made monthly to the individual’s bank account.
Further details for the self-employed will be provided on ato.gov.au.

For further information on the JobKeeper Payment, click here. 

To read the Prime Minister’s media release, click here.

There are a number of matters regarding the JobKeeper Payment that we are seeking urgent clarification on. We will keep you updated as information becomes available.

INCOME SUPPORT PARTNER PAY INCOME TEST

Over the next six months, the Government is temporarily expanding access to income support payments and establishing a Coronavirus Supplement of $550 per fortnight.

The JobSeeker Payment is subject to a partner income test, and today the Government announced it is temporarily relaxing the partner income test to ensure that an eligible person can receive the JobSeeker Payment, and associated Coronavirus Supplement, providing their partner earns less than $3,068 per fortnight, which is around $79,762 per annum.

The personal income test for individuals on JobSeeker Payment will still apply.

COMMERCIAL AND RESIDENTIAL TENANCIES – RENT RELIEF

Banks to provide relief for landlords and businesses

The National Cabinet has agreed to consider advice from Treasurers on commercial and residential tenancies at their next meeting on Friday 3rd April 2020.

The following was announced by the Australian Banker’s Association (ABA) on Monday 30 March. Here is a link to the ABA's full press release.

In summary:

•  The threshold for loan payment deferrals for up to 6 months has been increased from $3 million to $10 million. Interest will capitalise on the loans.

•  “During this period banks have also agreed to not enforce business loans for non-financial breaches of the loan contract (such as changes in valuations)”.

•  The new measures will apply on an opt- in basis, meaning to access the package:

  • commercial landlords will need to “provide an undertaking to the bank that for the period of interest capitalisation they will not terminate leases or evict current tenants for rent arrears as a result of COVID-19”; and
  • customers will be required to advise their business is affected by COVID-19.
  • The relevant Loan must be “current in terms of existing facilities 90 days” before applying. In this context we take this as meaning the loan must not have expired during those 90 days.

We’ll seek to provide updates as more information comes to hand and encourage you to contact your business banker to discuss your position and the options available to you.

All updated information will be uploaded to the QHA website: www.qha.org.au

Kind Regards,

Bernie Hogan.

5:17pm 26/3/20
Update from OLGR 

Please CLICK HERE to read the OLGR update to licensees about COVID-19 impact 26 March

5:52pm 25/3/20
Update from OLGR 

Please CLICK HERE to read the OLGR update on COVID-19 Impacts.

7:14pm 24/3/20
Update from OLGR RE GAMING LICENCE

Please CLICK HERE to read the OLGR regarding an Update for gaming licensees regarding Electronic Gaming Machines.

4:57pm 24/3/20
Update from 
QHA Chief Executive, Bernie Hogan.

Dear Members,

It has been another hectic day for the industry as you are all coming to terms with the new operations and we at the QHA are really pleased to be able to continue to offer advice to so many of you.

Business Relief Package

Today the Queensland Government unveiled a $4 billion package to support health, jobs, households and Queensland businesses. See attached.

The main relevant points for our industry include:

  • $300 Million household relief package
    • will give Queensland households $200 off their utility bills
  • $2.5 Billion into protecting Queensland jobs and businesses
    • small and medium businesses and large businesses specifically impacted by COVID-19, will be refunded two months’ worth of payroll tax
    • small and medium businesses a three-month payroll tax holiday, and a further six-month payroll tax deferral
    • $500 million to assist workers who lose their job or income and to help them find jobs in vital industries
    • waiving liquor licencing fees for venues that have had to close their doors
    • giving sole traders, small and medium businesses a $500 rebate on their power bill for this year.
  • Establishment of a dedicated small business support hotline (1300 654 687)
  • Launching  an online portal for businesses to apply for payroll tax relief which can be accessed via www.business.qld.gov.au

Members are encouraged to visit the QHA website for updated information and special video casts from yours truly.

OLGR Bulletin

The latest OLGR bulletin has just been released answering some of the questions that members have approached them about regarding:

  • TABs
  • Conference Rooms
  • Takeaway delivery

I am pleased to say that their interpretation of the Health Regulations have been consistent with advice sent to members.

Centrelink Fact Sheet

We have also uploaded on the website www.qha.org.au a fact sheet for your staff on contacts and entitlements during a stand down.

We at the QHA are still working on various other forms of support and we expect to hear from suppliers to the industry in the near future about how they will be offering assistance as well.

As always, please feel free to contact us

Bernie
Bernie Hogan
Chief Executive

4:34pm 24/3/20
Update from OLGR

Please CLICK HERE to read the OLGR Alert:

6:22pm 23/3/20
Update from OLGR

Please CLICK HERE to read the OLGR Alert:  Direction from the Chief Health Officer on non-essential business and how this applies to licensed venues and further advice on takeaway liquor sales

9:01pm 22/3/20 - URGENT NOTIFICATION
Update from QHA Chief Executive, Bernie Hogan.

Dear members,

Today has made a sizeable change in the life of our members. Whilst so many of you tried to accommodate all of the restrictions, it appears that it has not regarded sufficient to support the health crisis.

We have not seen the final wording of the Health Department’s direction, however it is fairly clear.

I would recommend that all members now make themselves aware of the restrictions and we will follow up with the official regulation as they come to hand.

This is what has been announced today.

As always – please get in touch with QHA staff should you require greater clarity.

Places of Mass Gathering

The Prime Minister’s announcement this evening will give effect to the close down of licensed venues across the state.

We will get more information from Queensland Government and disseminate that to members as quickly as possible.

Here are the basic elements that we learned this evening

  • State-wide and reviewed on a monthly basis. 6 month expected.
  • Enclosed licensed spaces CLOSED from midday tomorrow – 23rd of March
  • Accommodation stays open but not the “lobby bar” or licensed areas within accommodation hotels
  • Retail liquor sales stays open. Assume this is drive-throughs and detached bottleshops.
  • Restaurants are for takeaway only.

Federal Government Economic Response CV19

The Federal Government is acting decisively in the national interest to hotel and hospitality businesses and address the significant economic consequences of the Coronavirus.

While the full economic effects from the virus remain uncertain, the outlook has deteriorated since the Government’s initial Economic Response announced on 12 March 2020.

Today the Commonwealth announced a second set of economic responses which, combined with previous actions, total $189 billion across the forward estimates, representing 9.7 per cent of annual GDP.

The government’s full package can be accessed here:  https://treasury.gov.au/coronavirus

Boosting cash flow for employers

The Government is enhancing the Boosting Cash Flow for Employers measure it announced on 12 March 2020.

The Government is providing up to $100,000 to eligible small and medium-sized businesses, and not for-profits (NFPs) that employ people, with a minimum payment of $20,000. These payments will help businesses and NFPs with their cash flow so they can keep operating, pay their rent, electricity and other bills and retain staff.

Small and medium-sized business entities with aggregated annual turnover under $50 million and that employ workers are eligible.

Under the enhanced scheme, employers will receive a payment equal to 100 per cent of their salary and wages withheld (up from 50 per cent), with the maximum payment being increased from $25,000 to $50,000. In addition, the minimum payment is being increased from $2,000 to $10,000.

An additional payment is also being introduced in the July – October 2020 period. Eligible entities will receive an additional payment equal to the total of all of the Boosting Cash Flow for Employers payments they have received. This means that eligible entities will receive at least $20,000 up to a total of $100,000 under both payments.

Temporary relief for financially distressed businesses

The economic impacts of the Coronavirus and health measures to prevent its spread could see many otherwise profitable and viable businesses temporarily face financial distress. It is important that these businesses have a safety net to make sure that when the crisis has passed they can resume normal business operations. One element of that safety net is to lessen the threat of actions that could unnecessarily push them into insolvency and force the winding up of the business.

The Government is temporarily increasing the threshold at which creditors can issue a statutory demand on a company and the time companies have to respond to statutory demands they receive. The package also includes temporary relief for directors from any personal liability for trading while insolvent, and providing temporary flexibility in the Corporations Act 2001 to provide temporary and targeted relief from provisions of the Act to deal with unforeseen events that arise as a result of the Coronavirus health crisis.

The ATO will tailor solutions for owners or directors of business that are currently struggling due to the Coronavirus, including temporary reduction of payments or deferrals, or withholding enforcement actions including Director Penalty Notices and wind-ups.

10:25pm 22/3/20
Update from OLGR

Please CLICK HERE to read the OLGR Alert:  Urgent notice to licensees about COVID-19 and the operation of licensed premises

2:23pm 21/3/20
Update from QHA Chief Executive, Bernie Hogan.

Good afternoon members,

I am sure that you are all still coming to terms with the rapid changes that have been implemented into our industry over the past few days, but I want to applaud you all for the speed with which you are all attempting to comply.

As you will no doubt have seen from the last OLGR bulletin, generally speaking licensees have operated well and attempted to work with regulators and the QPS. I have had a few reports of some hotels not making obvious attempts to let patrons know what is necessary.

If your venue is not attempting to limit density of patrons and encourage hygiene practices, expect to be closed down by the QPS and Health Department from as early as tonight – this is very clear from the Commissioner of Liquor and Gaming.

To help, QHA have a poster on the website that can be downloaded and displayed as a starting point and follow the suggestions that have come out over the past few days (cleaning protocols, sanitiser, etc).

Click here to download it.

2-hour limit

In the guidelines sent by the OLGR yesterday there was reference to a 2 hour limit for patrons to spend time in a bar, in a restaurant setting the guideline states 4 hours.

This is in conjunction with providing maximum capacity of 1 patron per 4 sqm.

I realise this not really feasible in practice however, expect that some inspectors and QPS officers will raise this question and/or undertake head-counts in venue.

Gaming Rooms

As noted in the OLGR guidelines, there is not a requirement to switch off machines, however it is recommended that venues encourage social distancing with signs or removing some chairs from the room if needed. All venues with gaming rooms must make an attempt to get patrons to maintain the 1.5m distancing

There are many examples of positive behaviours I have seen throughout the venues my team and I have visited and spoken with over the past few days. From removing salt and pepper and single use menus through to establishing venue spaces as dining rooms to allow more space. If you need any advice and wish to check on any aspect of the guidelines – please ensure you get in touch with the QHA staff and we will try our best.

Thank you and good luck this evening.

Bernie

Bernie Hogan Chief Executive

1:25pm 21/3/20
Update from 
QHA Chief Executive, Bernie Hogan.

Please find a poster for you to print and display -   CLICK HERE FOR POSTER DOWNLOAD 

11:24am 21/3/20
Update from OLGR

FURTHER NOTICE TO LICENSEES ABOUT COVID-19 and MASS GATHERINGS

Please CLICK HERE to read the OLGR Alert: COVID-19 Further notice to licensees about COVID-19 and mass gatherings

3:35pm 20/3/20
Update from OLGR

OLGR GUIDANCE

Please CLICK HERE to read the OLGR Alert: COVID-19 and non-essential indoor gatherings.

1:38pm 20/3/20
Update from QHA Chief Executive, Bernie Hogan.

Dear Members,

The National Cabinet have met this morning (they will do this now on Tuesdays and Fridays). Which gives us some better information.

We have some clarity now from the Prime Minister’s address. There is still a 100 patron maximum for any single enclosed area however, the important social distancing requirement is

  • 4sqm now applies
  • That is 2m x 2m per person
  • If a room is 100sqm – then only 25 people (including staff) allowed

Plus:

  • Wherever possible we should encourage 1.5m social distance
  • Seeking cooperation of patrons
  • If patrons (including young, fit, healthy people) follow these rules they will save other lives

Financial Management and Support Information

COVID-19 has placed many new challenges to businesses and people, I thought it was important to get this information out to members.

Right now your business cash flows and business plans should be managed through assessing supplier and customer status, optimising cash flows and managing loans and funding needs.

Safe Harbour Laws Protect Company Directors From Personal Liability

Safe Harbour laws protect company directors from personal liability for insolvent trading if the company is undertaking a legitimate restructure. The use of Safe Harbour is expected to increase as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic as a key strategic initiative to preserve businesses and employment. It is a much preferred outcome to insolvency, but is only available to companies and their directors who act quickly when facing financial decline. In the current circumstances it is a tool that can provide businesses with the breathing room they need to consider the options available to preserve their business during these uncertain times.

Directors who take action too late face falling foul of the qualifying criteria for Safe Harbour, meaning that Voluntary Administration or Liquidation may become their only options.

Safe Harbour laws are specifically designed to preserve good businesses and to protect them through difficult times.

QHA Members are recommended to speak with their financial advisors at the very earliest opportunity.

QHA Partners such as Mazars, HLB Mann Judd, Prosperity Advisors and Shinewing would be more than willing to assist.

To assist you further and outline how Safe Harbour can be implemented, Ernst and Young has developed a guide to Safe Harbour (attached).

The Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) provides directors with a protection from civil insolvent trading liability in certain circumstances.  Ordinarily, pursuant to the insolvent trading provisions in section 588G(2) of the Corporations Act, company directors will be personally liable for certain debts which are incurred if:

  • They are a director at the time when the company incurs the debt;
  • The company is insolvent at that time, or becomes insolvent by incurring that debt; and
  •  At that time, there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that the company is insolvent or would become insolvent.

However, the “safe harbour” provisions in s 588GA of the Corporations Act essentially provides directors with a form of “defence” or exception to this provision in some circumstances. Section 588GA(1) of the Corporations Act excludes liability for insolvent trading under s 588G(2) of the Corporations Act if:

  • At a particular time after a person starts to suspect a company may become or already be insolvent, he or she starts developing one or more courses of action that are reasonably likely to lead to a better outcome for the company; and
  • The debt is incurred directly or indirectly in connection with that course of action and during a specified time period.

The Australian Institute of Company Directors AICD has a fact sheet which provides general background information and is a starting point. The AICD suggests that directors start considering the safe harbour provisions when a director has reason to suspect their company is approaching insolvency, that is to say, when a company is approaching a state of financial distress and risks being unable to pay its debts as they fall due.  More information can be found by clicking here.

Australian Taxation Office assistance

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) will implement a series of administrative measures to assist Australians experiencing financial difficulty as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. The Commissioner of Taxation Chris Jordan is encouraging businesses impacted by the coronavirus to get in touch with the ATO to discuss relief options.

If you are experiencing difficulties with tax obligations because of COVID-19 please click here.

Options available to assist businesses impacted by COVID-19 include:

  • Deferring by up to four months the payment date of amounts due through the business activity statement (including PAYG instalments), income tax assessments, fringe benefits tax assessments and excise
  • Allow businesses on a quarterly reporting cycle to opt into monthly GST reporting in order to get quicker access to GST refunds they may be entitled to
  • Allowing businesses to vary Pay As You Go (PAYG) instalment amounts to zero for the March 2020 quarter. Businesses that vary their PAYG instalment to zero can also claim a refund for any instalments made for the September 2019 and December 2019 quarters
  • Remitting any interest and penalties, incurred on or after 23 January 2020, that have been applied to tax liabilities
  • Working with affected businesses to help them pay their existing and ongoing tax liabilities by allowing them to enter into low interest payment plans.
  • Employers will still need to meet their ongoing super guarantee obligations for their employees.

Outside of business, the ATO will also work with individuals experiencing financial hardship, and their tax agents, and will apply appropriate tax relief measures for serious and exceptional circumstances, such as where people cannot pay for food or accommodation.

Anyone impacted by COVID-19 is advised to contact the ATO to request assistance on 1800 806 218, when they are ready, to discuss the situation.

Assistance from banks

If the impacts of coronavirus are causing financial hardship for your business, your bank may have practical ways to help. Australian banks have hardship teams to assist you with your financial arrangements, depending on your circumstances.

Assistance could include:

  • Interest-only repayments, deferring loan payments and freezing loans
  • Waiving fees and charges
  • Restructuring, lengthening and consolidating loans
  • Helping with debt consolidation
  • Deferring upcoming credit card payments and increasing emergency limits

The fact sheet sets out some of the ways your bank can help you when you’re experiencing financial difficulty.

There are two frameworks that govern how banks help customers in financial difficulty:

  • the National Credit Code
  • the Banking Code of Practice

Australian bank hardship teams can be contacted by clicking here.

Assistance from utility companies

Are you having difficulty paying your electricity, gas or water bills, or worried about being disconnected?

In every state/territory in Australia, there are rules about when and how you can be disconnected. Your provider must offer you hardship assistance (on request) and give notice before disconnection.

If you’ve received a disconnection notice:

  1. Contact your utility provider immediately
  2. Tell them you’re in financial hardship
  3. Ask them not to disconnect you
  4. If the energy provider says it will proceed with the disconnection, lodge a complaint with the Energy and Water Ombudsman.

Your utility provider can be very helpful if you get in touch – remember that they’re legally required to assist you. The sooner you get in touch, the sooner you can find a solution.

Read about how to negotiate payment terms.
Use this letter template to request a hardship variation

Personal Support

We are very aware that this is a stressful time for business owners, managers, staff and family members. Support is also available from Lifeline (13 11 14) and Beyond Blue (1300 22 4636). The Healthy Mind Menu Facebook page also has resources available specific to the hospitality industry that you may find helpful.

Bernie Hogan
Chief Executive

10:05am 20/3/20
Update from OLGR

OLGR GUIDANCE

Please CLICK HERE to read the OLGR Alert: Assisting industry's response to COVID-19.

3:34pm 19/3/20
Update from QHA Chief Executive, Bernie Hogan.

Dear Members,

As we move into a weekend where there will be some televised sport and more opportunity for our venues to have some patronage, I need to recommend that members exercise EXTREME caution under the new restrictions.

This is not the time to be clever or attempt to squeeze the last few patrons in as we, as the hospitality industry, will be watched carefully.

For clarity, the QHA recommends members DO NOT:

  • Promote bands in venue (possibly have solo singers or duos), it is unlikely that it would be commercially viable with reduced patronage anyway.
  • Promote on social media about entertainment beyond that your venues are open
  • Promote big screens or “specials” around televised games

We realise that this is not ideal and that many patrons will still want to socialise and entertain themselves at the moment.  However, if hotels are not seen as responsible and respectful we anticipate greater restrictions.

We suggest that you can make obvious attempts to comply with social distancing by:

  • Removing seats from dining areas to limit capacity
  • Moving tables so that there are obvious gaps between diners
  • Provide signs on gaming machines reminding patrons of keeping 1.5m between them
  • Have hand sanitizer available, if practicable and put signs up regarding regular hand washing

As mentioned yesterday, members must comply with the 100 person indoor capacity, in a single enclosed space and 500 outdoor allowing for 1.5m social distancing. This in practice means 1 patron per 4 square metres of capacity, which may mean you cannot have 100 as your upper limit.

OLGR Guidance

The official guideline from OLGR is expected this afternoon and will be sent to all licensed venues from OLGR, and QHA will circulate it as well.

CLICK HERE to read update sent on Friday 20 March 2020 at 10:05am.

Feel free to call with additional questions or check the QHA webpage.

Indoor Gatherings Information

4:00pm 18/3/20 Update from QHA Chief Executive, Bernie Hogan.

Dear members,

I realise this has been a terrible day for you, and miserable no doubt for many of your staff.  This is the update as of 4pm on 18 March, 2020.

Remember – there will be another meeting of the National Cabinet on Friday.  There is every possibility that further decisions will be made at that time.

If in doubt about any issue, please feel free to check the QHA website (www.qha.org.au) or call QHA staff directly on mobile. We are here to help.

Restriction on Indoor Gatherings

Firstly, I met with the Qld Government and Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation in teleconference with other industry participants.

I can confirm that our interpretation of the new restrictions was accurate with the priority on the “social distancing” protocols.

I have attached an advice that QHA has developed along with all of our AHA counterparts across the nation.

In a time like this for our industry, it has been fantastic to have the support of all of so many people.

Please read through the attachment and should you have any questions – get in touch with me or other members of staff.  These email updates have been going to Members and I hope they have been useful.
CLICK HERE FOR ADVICE ON INDOOR GATHERING

Industry Partners

AHA and QHA have been in contact with many industry providers to seek some alleviation from fees and charges as obviously patronage is severely down and for the foreseeable future this will impact hotel revenues. All of the partners are looking at what assistance they can provide for members and have committed to working with AHA/QHA in this regard. Any detail we will send to members as soon as it is confirmed.

These have included:

  • Tabcorp
  • Nightlife
  • Sky
  • OneMusic
  • Foxtel

If members suggest others that should be approached, we are happy to try to assist.

The AHA and QHA have suggested to Government that banks and landlords should be encouraged to allow members to capitalise their loans or provide rent abatements – without which some members will no longer be able to operate. We have not had answer on this yet, but rest assured, we will continue with this.

Staff

I understand many of you have had to make very hard decisions today particularly around you casual staffing arrangements.

Should you require assistance around your staffing discussions, I must advise you to speak to our Employment Relations team.

They are incredibly busy at the moment, working with members but their counsel is second to none.

Feel free to speak to me about other issues that arise and I will give another update as we get more information.
Bernie


9:00am 18/3/20
Update from QHA Chief Executive, Bernie Hogan.

Firstly, thank you to you all for the efforts that I know you have all gone to in order to attempt to comply with the current restrictions. The uncertainty around the future is never easy to contend with and I am impressed with how QHA members are attempting to care for their staff. It is gratifying that the second question after “what is going on” I am continually getting it “how do I keep my staff – they need a livelihood”.

Social Distancing and Public Gathering Restrictions

The National Cabinet have released new restrictions this morning that will alter the way licensed businesses operate in Queensland. As of this morning this is:

  • Venues should restrict capacity of single enclosed areas to a TOTAL limit of 100
  • We MUST ensure that social distancing is still possible. Think about the density of patrons in your venue. This means – if your bar is only small, don’t jam it full because the limit is 100.
  • Social Distancing is being promoted as 1.5m around patrons. This must be considered in in all parts of the venue, including Gaming Rooms.

I realise this is a huge restriction in trade, however, I want to ensure that our members attempt to responsibly operate to avoid more severe restrictions in the future.

At present, retail is unaffected and should continue to trade as normal.

Early afternoon today, I will represent the QHA in a meeting with the Attorney-General of Queensland, OLGR and the Chief Medical Officer in order to determine how this works in practice for members in Queensland.

Accommodation Hotel members should continue to operate as they are often used as self-isolation centres – and are currently providing a tremendous support to their guests.

Australian & Queensland Government Assistance

Payroll Tax deferral has been offered to all companies effected by C-19 across the State. This is a deferral scheme, so companies would need to establish a repayment plan for any deferred taxes after the initial 6 month period. More details can be found at www.osr.qld.gov.au

The Treasurer announced today that the State has formed a $500Million fund that will provide low interest loans to C-19 effected businesses. These loans are to be interest free for the first 12 months and are capped at $250,000 aimed at enabling cash flow for small businesses. Companies can get more details at the Qld Rural and Industry Development Authority and register for more information at http://www.qrida.qld.gov.au/current-programs/covid-19-business-support/queensland-covid19-jobs-support-scheme

I have asked the QHA to develop a fact sheet on any advice and support which we will put on our website.

Please click here for stimulus and support information from the Queensland and Australian Government as at 18 March.

Food Operations - Survival Guide Tips 

Strategies developed by Andrew Briese from Cooking the Books - click here.


WEDNESDAY 17 March 2020

The QHA has been in close contact with the State and Federal Governments, and has been sharing intelligence across the AHA State networks to provide our members the best information available.

Members are encouraged to monitor the daily updates on the Australian Government's Department of Health website which provides the latest medical advice and official reports: https://www.health.gov.au/

There are fact sheets which have been developed for the hotel industry:

  1. Information for hotels and hotel staff
  2. Information for employers
  3. Information for hotel guests
  4. Information for public gatherings
  5. Information on social distancing
  6. Signage - A national campaign has launched to inform all Australians about the coronavirus (COVID-19)
  7. The below link contains information from Qld Workplace Health and Safety.
  8. QHA ER Department Fact Sheet to assist members with staff and which includes a number of scenarios

Prevention

Everyone should practise good hygiene to protect against infections. Good hygiene includes:

  • Wash your hands frequently with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Cover your sneeze or cough with your elbow or tissues, and discard used tissues in the trash.
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Avoid people who are sick with respiratory symptoms.
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces - ensure an appropriate cleaner is used in regularly wiping down surfaces throughout venues (including door handles, tables and chairs, handrails, ATM’s and gaming machines etc.). Consider signage advising customers of the cleaning routine and frequency to allay concerns and misperceptions.
  • Qld Health advise “Face masks are not recommended for the general population”

 Surgical masks in the community are only helpful in preventing people who have coronavirus disease from spreading it to others. If you are well, you do not need to wear a surgical mask as there is little evidence supporting the widespread use of surgical masks in healthy people to prevent transmission in public.

Mass gatherings of 500 or more

The Prime Minister has announced on Friday 14 March “mass gatherings of 500 or more” are banned from Monday 16 March.

A mass gathering is any gathering of five hundred (500) or more persons in a single undivided space at the same time, whether in an indoor or outdoor space, and we understand this to capture “non-essential, organised” public gatherings of 500 or more persons such as sporting events, concerts, and other large functions.

This does not include a gathering at a hotel or accommodation property that is necessary for the normal operation of services or a circumstance at a place where five hundred (500) or more persons may be present for the purposes of transiting through the place.

However we recommend members consider planning for contingencies around:

  1. Cancellation/postponement of any single function or event at a venue of 500 or more persons; and
  2. The prospect of limiting patron capacity numbers to less than 500 persons at any given time.

Our feedback anecdotally at the moment is that patronage has been well down in most venues. Consideration needs to be made on a case by case basis with regards to 500 person capacity or enabling “social distancing” in a hospitality setting.

Employee Stand Down

The Fair Work Act 2009 provides for the standing down of employees in a limited number of circumstances:

  • industrial action;
  • machinery or equipment breakdown for which the employer cannot reasonably be held responsible; or
  • a stoppage of work for any cause for which the employer cannot reasonably be held responsible.

The third category is most relevant to the current situation involving the COVID-19 virus.

Importantly there needs to be a stoppage of work which may apply to the whole business or part of a business AND the employees are not otherwise able to be usefully employed.

Examples that may arise out of the COVID-19 Virus include:

  • Biosecurity or other ministerial orders shutting down a geographical area in which a business is situated; or
  • A significant number of employees being placed in isolation or quarantine necessitating shutdown.

In relation to machinery or equipment breakdown, this could be triggered where maintenance staff are in isolation or quarantined or unable to service equipment, resulting in equipment break down.

In the event there is a stoppage of work, for which an employer cannot reasonably held responsible for, and cannot usefully employ staff, the employer is not required to make any payments to the stood down employees for the stand down period.

It is important to note that an enterprise agreement or contract of employment may in some circumstances modify the position under the Fair Work Act 2009. In such cases, an employer would need to comply with the modified provision.

It is strongly recommended that employers seek advice prior to implementing any stand down of employees.

The ER Department has developed a fact sheet to assist members and which includes a number of scenarios. Click HERE

We again strongly encourage members to contact the ER Department when dealing with specific employee leave scenarios.

Employee Entitlements and Coronavirus

If you have questions regarding employee entitlements during a close down or slowing of business due to Coronavirus, or as the result of an infection or quarantine, please contact the QHA ER Department to discuss your specific circumstances. Every employer’s situation may be different, therefore we suggest tailored advice and information is necessary.

Please contact us to discuss your specific situation and how to manage employee absences and any payment or leave requirements:

  • If an employee has reported to you that they have recently travelled overseas to an at risk area (keep up to date on which areas these are via the Department of Health or Queensland Health); or
  • If an employee has reported to you that they have been in close contact with a confirmed Coronavirus case; or
  • If your business is suffering because of a downturn and you are looking at your options to manage wage costs and leave balances.

If employers require further information on public health recommendations in relation to the virus, contact:

  • the National Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080.
  • Queensland Health on 13HEALTH (13 43 25 84).

Work Health and Safety

Safe Work Australia has compiled information relevant to persons conducting a business or undertaking.

It is recommended that venues, contractors and staff ensure an appropriate cleaner is used in regularly wiping down surfaces throughout venues (including door handles, tables and chairs, handrails, ATM’s and gaming machines etc.).

Staff should also be regularly reminded of the critical importance of maintaining hygiene in the workplace (such as the regular washing of hands and use of antibacterial soaps and hand sanitisers which should be readily available for staff).

Room cleaning staff should avoid close contact with guests who have self-isolated. They should wear gloves while cleaning, and use alcohol hand rub before and after wearing gloves.

Venues also have an obligation to consult with other parties (such as external contractors attending the venue) to ensure that they are also taking necessary steps to comply with WHS obligations. We recommend that members seek written assurances from external contractors (particularly cleaning staff) that they have implemented all necessary measures to comply with their own obligations in terms of following the advice of public health authorities.

What precautions should I take when cleaning?

When cleaning, staff should minimise the risk of being infected with coronavirus by wearing gloves and using alcohol-based hand sanitiser before and after wearing gloves. If cleaning rooms or areas of the workplace where a person with a confirmed case of coronavirus or a person in isolation has frequented staff may wish to wear a surgical mask as an added precaution. If a confirmed case of coronavirus or a person in isolation is in a room that cleaning staff need to enter, they may ask them to put on a surgical mask if they have one available.

Insurance Considerations

We have consulted with a range of industry insurance brokers who have advised that, generally speaking, a downturn or stoppage of trade as a result of a global pandemic such as the coronavirus would not enliven an insurance claim for disruption of trade.

Members are however encouraged to make their own enquiries of their insurance broker should the circumstances arise as individual policies may vary.

Future Considerations

At present we are trying to source more information to give you all some advice on what may be future levels of response. Venues are encouraged not to panic but to think how you will respond IF any of these situations come to pass:

  1. Enforced “shutdown” of CBDs or business areas. This has happened in some countries and is currently being heralded as the reason why Singapore (and China to some extent) have managed to contain the virus
  2. Reduced or cancelled public transport. This will remove more patrons and critically many staff members ability to get to your venues. You need to plan accordingly.
  3. Closure of all hospitality businesses. This has been reported in France, England and in some US States already.
  4. Closure, state-wide of primary and high schooling. Again, this will severely impact the ability for many staff members to work. This has been discussed in some Australian states, but not planned yet in Queensland. I would expect individual schools to be more likely effected.

The information is changing by the hour and it is important that QHA members stay up to date with the status by regularly checking the Department's Health websites. The QHA will continue to keep members informed through our communications including the QHA website which will have updated information and downloadable signage for venues.