Pressure on businesses and staff continues due to Covid related staff shortages

Jamie Jansen

Feature Writer

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Owner of Toast Sandwich Bar in Port Douglas, Luke Headland had to limit his opening days from 7 to 5 days a week.
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Port Douglas’ businesses and their staff members are under pressure as Covid surge leaves many employees unable to work.

A lack of staff members are forcing hospitality, tourism and retail businesses in Port Douglas to limit operations.

Owner of Toast Sandwich Bar in Port Douglas, Luke Headland, said he had to limit his opening days from 7 to 5 days a week.

Mr Headland said that he has temporarily lost some of his staff members because they have Covid or they’re in isolation awaiting their Covid test result.

“We don’t want to overload our current staff members. By limiting our opening days we can still offer a bit of down time to the staff members we still do have.

“The whole town is going through a staff shortage at the moment. Compared to our busy period in June and July, we have a 40 to 50% decline of staff members at the moment.

“We try to adjust beforehand on the days that we’re running shorter on staff. By reducing the available seats for example. Proper communication towards the customers is the most important part to make sure they understand.”

Pressure on staff

A person working in the hospitality industry, who asked for their name to be withheld, said that the pressure on staff is increasing.

“We don’t have enough staff members at the restaurant where I am working. This means we have to hire hospitality staff from agencies for events.

“For example, one night we had to organise a dinner for 100 people. We were supposed to have 10 agency staff coming in to help us out with taking orders and running food, but out of the 10 agency staff only 1 person showed up.

“Even though I wasn’t supposed to, I had to get on the floor and deal with a full table of people.

“It was incredibly hard to meet their expectations because we were so understaffed. This resulted in the guests being very rude to me. When they started yelling at me I had to bring in my manager. 

“It has been a crazy December month, almost everyone in town worked at least 50 hours a week. It’s harder to deal with these kinds of situations when you’re exhausted and desperately in need of some days off.

“Last week a drama occurred in a resort in town. One of the guests at this resort had been waiting for his drinks for too long and started threatening to kill one of the staff members.

“The staff member in question ended up leaving the resort and resigned the same day. I think the one to blame in this situation is the management, they can’t book out the whole resort when they only have a quarter of the staff they would normally have.

“I feel like the hospitality and tourism industry wasn’t ready for the opening of the borders. Now there are tourists all over town who are frustrated because they are paying a fair amount for their holidays but some businesses can’t deliver the quality of service they expect due to staff shortage and lack of stock.”

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