Patrick Gower: Hospitality industry battlers deserve Budget cash

OPINION: If there is one industry really taking a hit financially right now it is hospitality.

Our hospo battlers deserve a fair go - and that means targeted assistance in the way of taxpayer money in this week's Budget.

Much of the country will be back making money next week but hospitality will still have the handbrake on to help keep us safe.

Hospo has lost over $1 billion in revenue during the lockdown and now with the stringent rules of level 2, only limited relief is in sight.

It is an industry that deserves respect, employing 170,000 people and helping spread $6 billion of cash around our economy.

Under level 2, restaurants can't have groups of more than 10 into a restaurant - but high schools can get going again.

Cafes must have separation, social distancing and a single server in place - but you can have a game of rugby with people sweating, hissing and running into each other - that's all good.

The issue, of course, is the risk of a super-spreader ripping through the country, like what has just happened in South Korea where an asymptomatic person came into contact with 1500 people in a single night. That is a genuine worry and the restrictions against hospo prevent this.

But hospo is really taking a hit here for the safety of the rest of us and needs cash to get it through to the certainty of level 1 - or else there will be economic carnage with some predictions of 51,000 hospo jobs going.

Those people will end up in the dole queue and we will be paying for them anyway.

We will lose businesses that make up the lifeblood of our towns and cities because they can't make it through.

Let's help them get there with some targeted assistance in the Budget - and boost them across the line to level 1.

At least that will give the battlers in hospo a fair go to do business in a recession.

Patrick Gower is Newshub's National Correspondent.