The Nelson City Council has appealed to the government to enable them to waive alcohol licensing fees for businesses in the hospitality sector during the coronavirus lockdown.

Alcohol licensing fees are set by the Ministry of Justice, which administrates the Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority.

In a letter to the ministry, Nelson Mayor Rachel Reese requested that the licensing fees be waived for businesses while the country remains at Level 4 and when it moves back to Level 3 of the coronavirus lockdown. 

The Mayor was not comfortable with council collecting fees that would deliver no community value while businesses were unable to operate. 

“Fees like these can make the difference between surviving this period or shutting down,” explained Reese. “While the request might seem like a small gesture, every bit of assistance from the government is needed to help support the hospitality sector.”

In Nelson there are currently 169 licensed premises, with council aware of at least 50 licenses and certificates that are due for renewal this month. Annual fees range from $140 to $1250 per licence depending on the risk rating of the business. Licence application fees (paid three-yearly for established compliant businesses and annually for new businesses) range from $320 to $1050.

“Businesses are already digging into their reserves but there’s only so much there,” noted Hospitality New Zealand chief executive Julie White.

White went on to explain that relief from extra costs like licensing fees could help keep businesses afloat and people in employment, and help spur on a recovery when isolation measures were lifted.