Hospitality New Zealand is pushing for the 10 person cap on social gatherings to be removed, following the Government’s decision to extend Auckland’s Level 2.5 lockdown.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced last week that Auckland would remain at Level 2.5 and the rest of New Zealand at Level 2 until Cabinet’s next review on September 14.

Hospitality NZ CEO Julie White says this is providing challenging conditions for the hospitality industry.

Julie White

“In our industry, working at Level 2-2.5 is still quite prohibitive,” she says. “Continuing to abide by the three S’s (seated service, social distancing and single servers), means many businesses are still losing money.

“Given these circumstances, we are pushing for the maximum 10-person cap on social gatherings to be removed in Auckland. This would lessen restrictions on our Auckland-based operators and allow many of them to quickly return to a sense of a ‘new normal.’ 

“What’s the difference between a table of 14, an extra four people, when it can operate like its own bubble? Especially when you are seated in a restaurant, within a very controlled setting. We don’t understand the rationale from the Government on this 10-person cap and we’d like some flexibility on this,” says White.

She says for hospitality business owners, adhering to the Level 2 restrictions means lower turnover and higher costs.

“Half of our members have said they will need to make redundancies or restructure within the next two months. Coupled with the end of the wage subsidy, sadly there will be thousands of people moving from paid employment to lining up for Government benefits.” 

Hospitality New Zealand says it is working with the Government to implement a sector specific springboard solution, to keep as many hospitality workers in employment as possible, and are continuing to call for a targeted working capital grant to keep businesses afloat. 

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