Penned by Bank Street Social co-owner, Shaun Campbell, the letter asks for the removal of the seating while drinking restriction, and was sent to media and Premier Steven Marshall last week.
Twenty-three CBD venues have co-signed an appeal to Steven Marshall for relaxed restrictions in bars
SPECIAL REPORT: COVID-19 ADELAIDE
At midday on Wednesday, 21 October, an open letter, signed by Bank Street Social owner and manager Shaun Campbell, was sent to Premier Steven Marshall and several media outlets on behalf of 23 late-night CBD venues.
The letter implores the Premier and the state’s Transition Committee to consider rolling back the onerous coronavirus restriction stipulating patrons inside licensed venues must be seated while consuming alcohol.
“When full-contact sports are permissible but standing up in a bar is prohibited, it is clear that policy is being made in the absence of a logical risk assessment,” the letter, which is published in full below, says.
“The adoption of a more sensible and pragmatic approach would restore the confidence of the hospitality industry and help bring life back to the city’s streets.”
Shaun also aired concerns that the currently impeded nature of trade in bars and nightclubs will hamper his and other businesses’ ability to survive the pandemic – a timeline that is narrowing as the end of the JobKeeper program nears.
“A narrow window of opportunity now exists for brick and mortar venues in Adelaide to make a recovery before business risks escalate next year,” Shaun says in the letter.
“Jobkeeper support is being withdrawn in early 2021, at the same time as the summer festival season commences.
“February-April is reliably the quietest trading period of the year for most city bars, particularly in the West End, with a seasonal shift in patronage to temporary spaces.
“It would be indefensible if large pop-up venues were permitted to operate with crowds numbering in the thousands whilst the city’s indoor spaces remained under tight restrictions.”
The Bank Street Social letter has been co-signed by 22 additional late-night CBD venues: 1000 Island, Alfred’s Bar, Bar Torino, Cry Baby, Cumberland Arms, Distill, Fumo Blu, Hains & Co, Hellbound Wine Bar, La Rambla, Lion Arts Factory, Malt & Juniper, Maybe Mae, Mr. Goodbar, Paloma Bar & Pantry, Pink Moon Saloon, Tempus, Therapy, Rocket Rooftop, Sunny’s Pizza, Udaberri and West Oak Hotel.
Read the letter in full at the bottom of this article.
The Transition Committee met on Tuesday morning, 27 October, and there were no amendments to restrictions announced regarding nightclubs and bars.
CityMag reached out to Premier Steven Marshall on Thursday last week to see if he had seen the letter, and a State Government spokesperson said “Premier is aware if the issues raised.”
When asked for a response to the request made in the letter for an easing of restrictions on bars, the spokesperson said, “We understand there are many businesses who continue to be impacted by COVID-19 restrictions, which is why we’re investing $2 billion in economic stimulus measures to support as many local businesses and jobs as possible throughout this period.
“We have always said that we do not want to keep one restriction in place for a day longer than we have to.
“However, it’s absolutely imperative we listen to the health advice – it has got us this far and we are the safest state, in the safest nation as a result.
“The Transition Committee looks at these restrictions regularly.
“Every decision this Government makes is to ensure South Australia is safe and strong.”
In the letter, Shaun references the circumstances in Western Australia, where “Western Australians have been permitted to dance and stand whilst enjoying a drink since late June – and without consequence.”
The next South Australian Transition Committee meeting is scheduled to occur on Tuesday, 3 November.
Open letter regarding the impact of restrictions on Adelaide’s bar industry
On behalf of the undersigned venues, I wish to highlight the concerns of Adelaide’s bar industry regarding ongoing Covid-19 related restrictions.
This year has presented an immense challenge for all small businesses, particularly in the hospitality sector. Despite policy and sentiment now trending towards a ‘return to normal’ for the broader community, local bars are enduring sustained financial and operational stress. Current restrictions against standing consumption mean that most bars are trading well under half of their licensed capacity. This has placed many businesses in jeopardy, as well as hundreds of jobs.
Bars and venues throughout the CBD have been a central driver of Adelaide’s urban renewal and youth employment in recent years. And substantial personal and financial risk has been taken to make a positive contribution to this city’s lifestyle and culture. We all want to see a vibrant Adelaide re-emerge during the recovery, but this means our businesses need to be in a position to lead, not just survive. We cannot contribute to a rebound in either employment or confidence whilst hamstrung by restrictions.
During the first few months of the pandemic there was community support for a staged lockdown, and trading restrictions were naturally a part of that strategy. This approach formed part of South Australia’s successful response to the outbreak, along with building testing capacity, contact tracing and public health messaging. Venues around the city have acted in good faith and complied with each new directive issued by health authorities. Business practices and trading models have been heavily modified, along with the introduction of extensive measures to ensure individual and community safety.
However, over six months have now passed since South Australia last recorded a case of community transmission. It can no longer be claimed that harsh trading restrictions are either a proportionate response or a requirement for preventing infections. What they are producing is real and demonstrable economic, social and psychological harm. They are damaging businesses, delaying our city’s recovery and making temporary unemployment permanent.
Restrictions specifically affecting our industry continue to be issued without adequate explanation or justification, without provision of a timeline for review and in the absence of objective measures for success or failure. When full-contact sports are permissible but standing up in a bar is prohibited, it is clear that policy is being made in the absence of a logical risk assessment. The adoption of a more sensible and pragmatic approach would restore the confidence of the hospitality industry and help bring life back to the city’s streets.
A narrow window of opportunity now exists for brick and mortar venues in Adelaide to make a recovery before business risks escalate next year. Jobkeeper support is being withdrawn in early 2021, at the same time as the summer festival season commences. February-April is reliably the quietest trading period of the year for most city bars, particularly in the West End, with a seasonal shift in patronage to temporary spaces. It would be indefensible if large pop-up venues were permitted to operate with crowds numbering in the thousands whilst the city’s indoor spaces remained under tight restrictions.
We welcome the relaxing of restrictions outlined on 3rd October regarding outdoor ‘vertical consumption’ as well as dancing at private functions. Bars, however, are effectively excluded from the changes as few have any outdoor space and exist to service the public. We respectfully request that the committee consider extending these changes to include indoor spaces at their next meeting.
Across the border, Western Australians have been permitted to dance and stand whilst enjoying a drink since late June – and without consequence. We would encourage you to reconsider South Australian’s ability to do the same.
Dr. Shaun Campbell
Owner & Manager, Bank Street Social
Hains & Co
Hellbound Wine Bar
Lion Arts Factory
Malt & Juniper
Paloma Bar & Pantry
Pink Moon Saloon
West Oak Hotel