- September 8, 2021
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Tens of thousands of dollars of food has been thrown out by Southland hospitality businesses because of the three-week lockdown, an industry association representative says.
Hospitality Association of New Zealand Southland branch president Graham Hawkes said the industry was on its knees, and tighter restrictions under a revised alert level 2 would not help.
The country, excluding Auckland, will move to alert level 2 at 11.59pm on Tuesday.
There are key differences to the rules from the last time Southland was at alert level 2, in February this year. These include stricter requirements for masks, and a 50-person cap in restaurants.
* Southland drops to alert level 2 as of Wednesday
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Hawkes has run the Paddington Arms Restaurant & Bar in Invercargill, with his wife Glenise, for 29 years. They are opening the doors on Thursday.
Like many other businesses, they have had to bin food.
Tens of thousands of dollars worth of food had been wasted in Southland because of this three-week lockdown, he said.
When venues reopened, applying the 2-metre distancing rule would be difficult, Hawkes said. Practically, tables needed to be four metres apart if someone wanted to walk between the groups.
“This is not a profitable time for hospitality. We would have been better off in level 3.”
Even in lockdown, fridges, freezers and heating systems needed to be running and paid for, Hawkes said.
Businesses had survived the past 12 months because of the support of Southland people, and they needed it again, he said.
The country could not afford to lose the hospitality industry, he said, which employed hundreds of thousands of people and was worth $11 billion.
He wanted the Government to make resurgence support payments more accessible, to help businesses with costs like rent or other fixed costs during higher alert levels.
Brewers Association of New Zealand executive director Dylan Firth said the Government should refund excise tax on wasted products.
Some products, like kegs that were open before the lockdown started, would have deteriorated, could not be re-sold and would have to be destroyed, he said.
Currently, if a product was deemed unsellable before leaving a brewery it could be disposed of and no excise tax was paid, Firth said.
“What we are seeking is merely an extension of this ability to allow for returned product.”
In 2020, reportedly 15,000 kegs were disposed off, he said.
“All the while businesses still were required to pay excise tax, which is defined as a consumption tax, on a product that was ultimately not consumed.”
Hawkes supported the idea.
Like Hawkes’, not all Southland hospitality businesses will be opening for the first day of alert level 2 on Wednesday.
Some are having a day or two of preparation work, as kitchens and restaurants ramp-up for customers.
Aparima Restaurant & Bar owner operator Hannah Bickley said they had been waiting for the Government’s Monday announcement about the drop in alert level, before they ordered stock.
The Aparima Tavern will open on Friday, but the 50-person cap meant only a third of seats could be filled, Bickley said.
Staff were in the midst of three days of kitchen and restaurant preparation work, she said.
In general, Southlanders could be relaxed about dropping in for a meal, so Bickley encouraged customers to be organised.
“Bookings will be essential.”
Bickley had no issues getting stock from suppliers, and said they would have as many staff on as possible, given the restricted customer numbers.
Country Manor Catering owner Jeannie Peebles said the Winton bakery would be opening 6am on Thursday, so staff had enough time to hand make everything.
Under the new level 2 rules, all staff and customers will be required to wear masks and signing in will be mandatory.
There would be enough staff working to keep an eye out and make sure rules were followed, Peebles said.
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