AMID the stress and uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, a touching gesture from one former employee at the Quality Inn Presidential amazed owners Steven and Jaime Perryman.
Faced with months of economic uncertainty after dozens of cancelled bookings over the last seven days, the pair was forced to make the devastating decision to stand down staff on Monday morning.
Arriving at work yesterday, the couple was preparing to clean the last vacated rooms alone when staff member Emmy arrived in full uniform.
Not looking for money or any special treatment, Emmy told the pair she would volunteer to help finish cleaning the remaining rooms.
“There is nothing better to do, I would just be bored sitting at home,” Emmy said.
“This is a disaster this thing, everybody has stress, so I will help somebody who needs help.”
Mr Perryman said to have Emmy turn up in such a dire situation was touching.
“It is a reflection of the spirit that Australia needs in terms of pulling together and working through it,” he said.
“As individuals, those staff that have been laid off are going through their own struggles, but it’s just a really touching gesture by Emmy.”
The current Mount Gambier councillor and former city mayor described it as a morale boost.
“Anyone in this situation, their emotions go from the depths of despair to having a laugh, but it certainly helps having other people around you,” he said.
“It’s great to be able to share some company and Emmy is full of personality, so that helps a lot.”
Highlighting the gravity of the situation the country faces, Emmy said she had no qualms about not being paid.
“We were so busy and now we are not at all, it’s pretty sad,” she said.
“Because no people are coming to stay and they need to cut payment costs, I can just do voluntary work – I am happy to do that.”
Mr Perryman said there had been a massive drop-off in trade from around the usual 75pc occupancy at this time of the year to below 10pc.
“There is no capacity to pay staff and like many other hospitality and accommodation businesses we have stood down all of our staff,” he said.
“We acknowledge that it is difficult times for everybody including our staff and we have been open and frank with our staff as we have moved through the various stages at a very quick pace.”
Describing it as one of the worst days of his life, an emotional Mr Perryman said the toughest conversations were with those employees on Monday.
“It was one of the most difficult, sad and disappointing days in our lives,” he said.
“Jaime actually made the phone calls and was in tears after it – it’s hard mate.”
He encouraged everyone to adhere to the social-distancing guidelines and restrictions set out by the Australian Government, so the pandemic is over sooner, rather than later.