Singleton pub owner Dale McNamara voices concern for hospitality industry during coronavirus pandemic

FINAL DRINKS: Horse and Jockey hotel owner Dale McNamara and manager Daniel Storey were among thousands in the hospitality to close up at 12pm today.
FINAL DRINKS: Horse and Jockey hotel owner Dale McNamara and manager Daniel Storey were among thousands in the hospitality to close up at 12pm today.

Singleton businessman Dale McNamara believes the federal government's restrictions on pubs in a bid to slow the rapid spread of coronavirus has been poorly handled.

His portfolio to date features six pubs including Singleton's 'Albion Hotel' and the 'Horse and Jockey'.

So, when the last drinks were called at the latter this afternoon, he was on hand to liaise with manager Daniel Storey.

"I've come up here specifically to see that the staff across all the pubs are able to give some guidance and support," Mr McNamara told the Singleton Argus.

"I love a good beer but I don't manage the hotels; I have great staff (like Daniel) that do that.

"But it is my responsibility as the owner that I see my staff is looked after and I don't have the confidence that they are going to get that support (on what is being broadcast)."

As of 3pm there have been 1,709 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia, an increase of 313 since the same time yesterday.

A total of 704 of those cases are in New South Wales.

As this world pandemic continues world leaders such as Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison have been forced to make restrictions in a short space of time.

This lead to the closure of all pubs, gyms and restaurants by midday today.

"There were some patrons who have been here longer than me who were pretty emotional," Mr Storey added while closing up the Horse and Jockey bar area indefinitely.

"But for the moment that's just what we have to do for the safety of Australia.

"That's the directive and we'll abide by that and come out on the other end better."

Nevertheless Mr McNamara remained frustrated when echoing the anxiety shared by the 100 plus employees across his six pubs.

EMPTY BAR: Singleton buisnessman Dale McNamara pictured during his first of six pub stops on this historic afternoon.

EMPTY BAR: Singleton buisnessman Dale McNamara pictured during his first of six pub stops on this historic afternoon.

"You listen to ABC, Channel Seven and Nine and at the end of the day you're receiving three different stories; that to me is the confusing part because they're all saying something different," he continued.

"To make matters worse the federal government, who should be making the decisions, say one thing but then the state premiers say a few other things.

"So what do we have a Prime Minister for?

"In World War Two we had the one prime minister made all the decisions whereas now this is World War Three and all the premiers are making decisions."

One of Mr McNamara's Newcastle based publicans rang him for advice on Saturday morning in regards to the week ahead.

Little did he anticipate what would unfold during the following 48 hours.

"Worse yet, we all found out on Sunday that we had until midday the following day to shut shop; pubs will have to pour beer down the drain now," he cried.

"All we're asking the government is to give those in this industry time to prepare.

"You talk about HR, risk and management of people; we now have people who think 'oh s**t, how am I going to pay my rent?

"They say they are going to get their $550 per week and that they're going to get all of this money but let's see how many will get it on Friday.

LEFT WAITING: The crowds already started to file towards the Singleton Centrelink this morning.

LEFT WAITING: The crowds already started to file towards the Singleton Centrelink this morning.

"It will be two to three weeks before they get their cash and I would be surprised if I was proven wrong."

As an alternative to recent restrictions, he put forward the idea of a 72 hour period for country based hotels geographically located in areas with less COVID-19 cases.

"That would have given us more time to ask staff members what their position was instead of 'no work'," he concluded.

"So now if we need to give them (hotels) some monitory support we will but I have trust in them because they have good staff."

Storey has assured his Horse and Jockey staff in particular that admitted that he is closely monitoring all information for his staff being sent regularly from the Australian Hotels Association.