Latest From the Restaurant Association of New Zealand

After almost 24 hours at Levels 2 and 3, hospitality businesses are adapting to another stint of restricted trading. Level 3 means all Auckland based hospitality businesses are closed to the public other than through contactless delivery and pickup.

For the rest of the country Level two means restaurants and cafes need to follow the three ‘S’s’ where practicable -with diners seated, separated and served by a single server. There is also a limit of 100 guests.

“This is of course a devastating blow for those businesses already struggling from the impact of the COVID-19 lock down and border closures,” said Restaurant Association CEO, Marisa Bidois.

“Putting in place the regulations is not the principle issue for our members given ours is an industry that already operates under rigorous food control plans. The cost of these regulations combined with the revenue losses are the main factors we are now battling with.”

With the short notice period many restaurants have been left with hundreds of dollars of unsaleable perishable food. The Association is working with its members to help them redistribute this to food banks but as worthy as those organisations are this is lost revenue at a time when the industry is already suffering sustained losses of income.

“Putting on additional servers, maintaining distancing in restaurants at level 2 and closing on premise dining at level 3 means our businesses are once again managing diminishing returns. Even for a relatively short period, losses to our industry will be substantial,” continued Bidois.

“We are calling on Kiwi diners to continue to support their favourite establishments. Grab a coffee from your local café and order a contactless takeout if you’re in Auckland. Outside of Auckland, we would strongly encourage people to dine out in the knowledge that it is completely safe to do so. We are also calling on government to deliver the additional fiscal relief we’ve been asking for since we came out of level 3 in May”

Among its membership alone the Association has had more than 50 businesses close, which is around 1000 jobs losses, and they are anticipating more closures as the end of the wage subsidy draws near. The next government needs to know its priorities for hospitality early.

“The single most important issue for the hospitality industry is the sector’s recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic and we are calling on the next Government to work collaboratively to create a concise pathway for rebuilding and repositioning the sector for the future,” expressed Bidois.

“The hospitality industry contributes $11 billion to the economy, making it one of New Zealand’s largest industries. Despite being an enduring powerhouse of the New Zealand economy, policy made for the sector, in particular for hospitality, is fragmented, impractical and often devoid of the everyday realities of operations.

“Despite the enormous contribution our industry makes to the economy we are still lacking our own dedicated ministry. For a sector that generated annual sales in excess of $11 billion and employed more than 133,000 people in 2019, to not have a dedicated Minister to call on for support, means that Government policy regularly misses the mark when considered against the realities of our sector. This became increasingly problematic throughout the COVID-19 pandemic response and something we urgently need addressed by the incoming government.”