21st September 2021 By Paul Yandall | email@example.com | @foodtickernz
The move to Covid-19 alert level 3 for Auckland will make little difference to the city’s hospitality and accommodation businesses with few able to operate profitably, say industry groups.
But the increase in the indoor numbers cap from 50 to 100 for level 2 areas outside of Auckland has been welcomed.
Prime minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Monday afternoon that the city would move down from level 4 at 11.59pm tonight but it would stay at level 3 for at least two weeks. Level 3 allowed contactless pick-up and delivery of takeaway food, enabling some hospitality businesses to restart.
“Some in Auckland will open, mostly cafes and traditional fast food, and that’s great for them, even though business will be way down,” Hospitality New Zealand chief executive Julie White said.
“But many are telling us fewer of them will open than in previous level 3 [periods] because they’ve exhausted their reserves to keep running.
“That’s what level 3 means for many of them – not opening means money not coming in, but opening is actually money going out the door.”
White said that adding the 34 days of level 4 lockdown meant the majority of Auckland hospitality and accommodation businesses would have gone at least 48 days with zero revenue by Tuesday 5 October – the earliest the city could move to level 2.
“It’s clear for all to see that our sector has been hardest hit and will be longest to come back. That’s why we need a targeted payment on top of a continuation of the wage subsidy and an extension of the Resurgence Support Payment for those who meet the criteria through level 2,” White said.
“Allowing businesses in the rest of New Zealand to have 100 people indoors makes a difference for some, though larger venues will still struggle.”
Business Events Industry Aotearoa chief executive Lisa Hopkins said the move to level 3 for Auckland and the increase in indoor numbers from 50 to 100 for regions at level 2 was a sign the country was moving in the right direction.
“The increase from level 50 to 100 is an imperative as the sector would have struggled working in that sort of limitation,” Hopkins said.
“It will start to bring back confidence and certainty for event planners, and hopefully we can see some short-term business convert, especially in this crucial last quarter prior to Christmas.
“This would have been a difficult decision for the government, balancing their stated position from the get go, science, and business. Now we have to move Auckland into level 2 so the sector has some ability to recoup income lost over the past five weeks.”
Restaurant Association chief executive Marisa Bidois said the move to level 3 offered industry a glimmer of hope but hospitality-specific support was “long overdue”.
“It’s a relief to see Auckland coming down to alert level 3 this week and we know many will be keen to get back into their businesses again and reconnect with customers,” Bidois said.
“However, whilst some businesses can start trading again, takeaway is not viable for all businesses. For those that are able to adapt to takeaway, their takings are typically 40%-60% down on normal revenue.
“What we’d now like to see is our businesses being able to get back to work as we move down the alert levels but also the right financial support offered to those that most need it.”
For more information on doing business at level 3, visit the government’s Covid-19 guidelines.
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