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Hospitality industry rallies as alert level set to ease

21 Apr 2020  By Shannon Williams | shannon@tourismticker.com | @tourismticker

Wanaka at Covid-19 alert level 4 – New Zealand will move to alert level 3 next Monday night. Image: TT

Hospitality New Zealand chief executive Julie White said operators were “pulling out all stops” to prepare for alert levels 3 and 2 while waiting for a Government response to their calls for more immediate support such as rent-relief.

Yesterday Prime minister Jacinda Ardern announced that New Zealand will move from Covid-19 alert level 4 to level 3 at 11.59pm on Monday 27 April, and that the country would stay at alert level 3 for two weeks before a further review on 11 May.

Under alert level 3, bars, restaurants and cafes would remain closed, as would malls and retail stores, but food delivery, drive-through services, online shopping and click and collect could operate. Face-to-face transactions would not be allowed.

Julie White

White said the level 3 restrictions were a light touch version of level 4, which meant no real change for the accommodation sector and it would be too limiting for many hospitality businesses to re-open.

However, businesses that could re-open were working collectively and with their staff to explore different options to get people back into work during level 3.

“This includes dine-in restaurants looking at how they can give customers the restaurant experience at home and how we can work collectively to encourage New Zealanders to support their local hospitality businesses,” White said.

“They are doing their best in a cloud to forecast costs and budgets as well the logistics around things like how to bring back staff,  ways to market to customers, and stock ordering and deliveries at level 3.

White added that it would take “a big commitment” for operators to put in place new distribution systems and contactless payments.

“Hospitality operators are an innovative bunch, some are looking to partner with car hire companies to begin doing their own contactless delivery,” she said.

“It will also take buy-in from staff — for example, baristas might have to become delivery drivers — and it will take support from New Zealanders patronising their local businesses, or it simply won’t be viable for most of these businesses to operate in these conditions.”

Tourism Industry Aotearoa said unless there was a change to the current guidelines, restrictions on non-essential domestic travel would not be lifted until level 1, putting a dampener on any chance of domestic tourism activity.

At level 2, people were advised to minimise all non-essential travel, and TIA was seeking what this meant for business travel.

Speaking at her post-Cabinet press conference on Monday afternoon, Ardern said: “At level 3, 400,000 more New Zealanders will return to work, with key sectors for our recovery like construction, manufacturing and forestry starting up again,” said Ardern.

“Having our economy operating with a low threat of the virus is the competitive advantage we can seize if we get this next phase right. And I believe we can. But at level 3 we need to be even more vigilant and we must stick to the rules, continue to reduce contact and keep breaking the chain of transmission.”

 


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