Imposing an indoor limit of 50 at hospitality venues in the new Delta Level 2 is another kick in the guts for an industry that’s already down, according to Hospitality New Zealand.
“Operators are in an horrific state financially, and this could be the final straw for many,” expressed Chief Executive Julie White.
“Hospitality venues went along with the idea of mandatory record-keeping and masks because it was an extra layer of protection and we figured it was something we could live with because at least we would be open – even though it’s not ideal venues will have to police it.
“But this is a huge step backwards. It’s particularly disappointing for the South Island where there is no sign of COVID. Many venues outside Auckland were relying on good crowds to watch the test rugby and other sport in coming weeks, but that expectation has been cut in half.”
White noted that right now, survival is a day-to-day thing for operators in desperate need of support, and it’s essential there’s a proportionate response from the Government.
“They must continue the wage subsidy under level 2.5 and they must make the business resurgence support package a weekly payment instead of a one-off,” she continued.
“Rent, ACC and other fixed costs continue whatever level you’re at, and adding restrictions will make meeting them even more difficult. It shouldn’t be forgotten just how valuable this industry is to the economy. Before COVID it employed 170,000 people and was worth $11 billion but has received zero targeted support.
“Operators have already demonstrated resilience and adapted to the new normal of the domestic environment. If the Government was listening it would know businesses outside Auckland are suffering also because so many of them, particularly accommodation providers, rely on Aucklanders for their living. As long as they can’t travel then businesses outside Auckland are suffering acutely.
“Insolvency companies are telling me they’re getting a lot of inquiries from businesses considering liquidation. Last year there was little of that happening.”
White pointed out that some accommodation providers are down to zero occupancy, and others to single-digit occupancy. They simply cannot survive like that.
“It’s even worse for some because their business is also their home. If they lose their business they will lose their home. Of course, when businesses fold, there’s a detrimental flow-on to local communities, and this will be felt particularly hard in the regions.
“It’s dire out here. It’s got to a stage where the Government has the future of the hospitality industry in its hands. It’s up to them now what happens to this industry.
“How many more times do we have to say our businesses need proper support, and now?”