Hospitality New Zealand urges government to relax 10-person cap on Auckland social gatherings
The Government’s decisions today to extend Auckland’s Level 2.5 lockdown restrictions and keep the rest of the country in Alert Level 2 (until Cabinet’s next review onSeptember 14) still provides challenging conditions for the hospitality industry to operate in, says Hospitality New Zealand.
"It’s encouraging to know we aren’t going up alert levels – that does come as a sense of relief, but in our industry working at Level 2-2.5 is still quite prohibitive," says Hospitality New Zealand chief executive Julie White.
"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.
"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 is working with 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.
"We need urgent relief packages for our industry, as it still feels like we are the forgotten sector – even though we’ve been hit the hardest. We have a human desire to connect with others and hospitality provides a critical role in our society, from a cultural and economic standpoint. Let’s not forget this," says Julie.