While Jacinda Ardern today announced New Zealand will move to Alert Level 2 on Thursday, bars have to wait longer than most to open.

In her press conference this afternoon, Monday, May 11, Ardern said that malls, retail stores, restaurants and most other businesses can open on Thursday, May 14. However, bars will have to wait a further week and can open on Thursday, 21 May.

“We have left bars till last because they do pose the most risk,” said Ardern. “As we can see from South Korea that recently open up their bars, only to close them again after one person caused an outbreak of 40 people and caused 1500 tests.

“While we have put in measures and expectations to make all hospitality as safe as possible, these few extra days really do give us the chance to lock in the data from Level 3 and make us feel more secure that we’re ready for this move.”

When they are able to open, bars must follow the “three S’s” rules outlined last week, which are:

  • People must be seated: You can only have as many people in your venue that you can safely seat. And no venue, regardless of size, can have more than 100 people.
  • People must be separated: There must be social distances between both people and tables.
  • Each table must have a single server.

Advice from the Director General was for bars to remain closed for a further two weeks but Ardern said Cabinet had decided to meet in the middle.

“Ultimately we believe we reached a pragmatic decision – one that balanced that we have put in controls to make it safer, with the suggestion of a further delay – and we struck down the middle.”

Ardern said the Government will soon announce more support for businesses who continue to be impacted by COVID-19.

For more from today’s press conference, click here.

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