Coronavirus: Hospitality business owners' mental health impacted by lockdown, fears about another

Most small business owners say the COVID lockdown impacted their mental health and they're just as worried about the upcoming Christmas season. 

Cafe and restaurant owners were worst affected, with some telling Newshub they're still living in fear. 

Husband and wife Jackie and Marcin Kulak bought acclaimed Auckland restaurant Mekong Baby a year and a half ago. They re-mortgaged their home to pay for it. 

"So when we went into the first lockdown, we had everything on the line, everything on the line, it was an extremely stressful time for us," says Marcin. 

They used all of the Government support available, with the wage subsidy helping them keep their 35 staff -  but it wasn't easy. 

"We had a lot of downtimes, down moments, when we were thinking, 'gosh, what should we do, are we going to have to go back to Europe'?"

They weren't alone. A survey of 500 small business owners found 88 percent of hospitality owners had their mental health negatively affected by the lockdown

For all other industries, 68 percent said the same. For many that struggle hasn't subsided. 

"Small business New Zealand is telling us they're starting to get really fatigued," says Craig Hudson, Xero Country Manager NZ.

The small business accounting software comapny Xero has seen customer's finances pick up, but they still can't afford to hire extra staff. 

"There's a big concern for me there, around owners and managers in hospo and retail, working more than they've ever worked before," says Hudson.

And the fear of another level change is lingering. 

"There is fear that what if there are a few new cases, what if we are going to go into lockdown again, what if, god forbid, we go into lockdown in December?" says Marcin.

Business consultant Zac De Silva advises thinking short-term. 

"Turn up to work knowing what you need to do, don't be like a possum in the headlights. You do have some control."

Because in a year of such big losses, it's good to celebrate the small wins.