Hospitality industry warns of closures if alert level 2 remains –

A Te Anau restaurant and bar owner has joined the call for the Government to return the South Island to alert level 1 as hospitality businesses continue to struggle.
Fat Duck owner Cameron Davies said his business was 60 per cent down on trade compared to what it was pre-lockdown in August.
The business had been through two restructures in 12 months, he said.
“We have just had two weeks of lockdown with no income, one week in alert-level 3 with five per cent of average income and one week in alert-level 2 at 40 per cent of average income.
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Many people were choosing not to go out to restaurants and bars under the delta alert level 2.
The sooner the South Island was returned to alert level 1 the sooner the economy would get moving again, he said.
Under the current alert level 2 rules, his business was trading 30 per cent down on what it was in level 2 in 2020.
“Hospitality is an industry about connections and putting smiles on people’s faces and we are wrapped up in a mask.”
He called on the Government to provide targeted assistance to industries struggling during the pandemic.
Finance minister Grant Robertson said the alert level 2 decisions for areas outside of Auckland was not about the presence or absence of Covid cases in those places.
“It is a precaution because of the cases in Auckland. What we are doing is limiting mass gatherings so that if there were a case come across the boundary we would not have superspreader events.
The Government’s general approach was to provide universal support as it was hard to give targeted support effectively and fairly.
Support to businesses to recognise the extended lockdown had increased, including a second round of the resurgence support payment which opened on Friday and was available to eligible businesses, including those in Invercargill, Robertson said.
“We continue to monitor and assess the situation and remain in touch with groups including Hospitality NZ about the challenges they face.”
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said the alert levels outside of Auckland will not drop until Auckland’s lockdown stopped new Covid infections.
Invercargill MP Penny Simmonds said it was important for Southlanders to shop local as many businesses were struggling after the latest lockdown and subsequent alert levels.
Spending in the hospitality sector in New Zealand fell by almost 30 percent in August, she said.
Davies call for a lowering of alert levels in the south was echoed by Invercargill chef Graham Hawkes this week. Hawkes said the financial situation was becoming desperate for many South Island hospitality businesses and the alert level should be dropped to one immediately.
Customer numbers had fallen markedly for many restaurants and bars in alert level 2, and very few of them were breaking even.
Permanent closure was an option for some businesses, he said.
Invercargill Licensing Trust chief executive Chris Ramsay said the trust’s bars and restaurants had not turned a profit under the new alert level 2 rules. A major concern was that establishments were limited to 50 people in level 2 when trust’s bars could safely cater for many more.
But the Government had since said if Auckland was dropped to alert level 3 late on Tuesday it anticipated the number of people who could gather together in hospitality venues would be lifted to 100.
The Government has also decided when alert level 1 is implemented, the same rules will apply as in the previous level 1.
Davies believed the introduction of rapid saliva Covid testing around the country would “bring some security” to people considering travelling domestically.
A spokesperson for the Covid-19 response minister Chris Hipkins said saliva testing was being done at the managed isolation facilities and at the Auckland boundary, but the tests still required laboratory processing to get the results.
The Government was moving on introducing rapid antigen tests into New Zealand which were not as accurate, but would have a role, including in the business community.
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