The Shout Magazine (New Zealand)

Return to Alert Level 3 a “devastating blow” to NZ hospitality industry

With Auckland returning to Alert Level 3 from midday on Wednesday, August 12, Hospitality NZ says it is a “devastating blow” for the hospitality industry.

Bars, clubs and pubs within greater Auckland closed at midday and will remain closed until midday Friday, August 14, at a minimum, following an announcement by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Tuesday night.

Hospitality New Zealand Chief Executive Julie White says for Auckland hospitality operators, the uncertainty of when they can reopen will see a huge loss of working capital – with many having to literally pour product down the drain or throw it away.

“Today’s focus for our Auckland hospitality operators is how to safely shut down their businesses, yet again,” she says.

“In light of Auckland’s move to Level 3 and the strong likelihood that this lockdown could be extended beyond the three days, bars will have to pour their kegs down the drain and restaurants will be working out what fresh produce can be saved – it’s not as simple as turning the lights off and locking the doors.”

Auckland is in Alert Level 3 for a minimum of three days, with the rest of New Zealand moving to Level 2.

Under Level 2, bars and clubs outside Auckland must operate the 3 S’s – seated, separated and single servers.

White says Level 2 restrictions are also damaging for the industry as they potential income but increase staffing costs.

“The industry has already faced significant challenges in continuously adapting their services at each Alert Level, leaving many operators with reduced profit and increasing debt,” she says.

White says the industry needs targeted support from the government and an extension of the wage subsidy in order to survive.

“The Government must provide urgent relief packages and allocate some funding from its $14 billion COVID Response and Recovery Fund to the hospitality sector,” she says.

Hospitality NZ says it’s disappointing setback for the industry, as recent data suggested profits were beginning to increase.

“Numbers have supported what our members had been suggesting – a glimmer of hope that recovery is near, and on track with our strategy for the sector to ‘Survive, Revive and Thrive’,” says White.

“People are enjoying going out and supporting locals, and whilst some regions who are highly reliant on international visitors are still doing it tough, there’s immense support in the community for these businesses. Let’s hope that support long continues.”

The Restaurant Assocation Guidelines for hospitality venues operating at Level 3 are:

  • Businesses must take health measures to keep their workers safe – maintain physical distance between workers, recording who is working together, limiting interaction between groups of workers, disinfecting surfaces, and maintaining high hygiene standards.
  • Hospitality businesses can operate under Alert Level 3 for contactless delivery and pick-up (including drive-through) of pre-prepared food and beverages. Customers cannot enter your premises.
  • People are still instructed to stay home unless for essential personal movement. Essential personal movement is for activities such as accessing local services and businesses, recreation or work and school.

The Restaurant Association guidelines for hospitality venues operating at Level 2 are:

  • The overall limit on numbers is 100.
  • Multiple groups of 100 are allowed provided they are in separate ‘defined spaces’ and there is no mingling of people between the different spaces (including in common areas) (see below information on defined spaces).
  • One metre physical distancing is required between groups and there must be at least one metre between tables.
  • Only one server is to serve at any table, to the greatest extent practicable.
  • Records must be kept to enable contact tracing for workers and customers, but there is no longer a requirement to record physical addresses.
  • Customers must be seated at a table except where using the toilet, paying or departing, ordering and collecting food and drinks (at unlicensed premises
  • Ordering and collecting food and drinks at the counter is allowed for nonlicensed premises only, provided that physical distancing is maintained.
  • Ordering and collecting food and drinks at the counter is not permitted at bars or other licensed premises.

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