The head of Hospitality New Zealand is devastated by today's alert level decision, saying it will be the final "nail in the coffin" for Auckland hospitality operators.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern today detailed Auckland's three-step plan to ease restrictions in alert level 3 and further changes to the rest of the country in alert level 2.
Step 1, which begins on Wednesday, allowed Aucklanders to meet with loved ones outdoors up to a maximum of 10 people, early childhood education returns, and beach and hunting activities will be acceptable.
Auckland hospitality operators will be able to open their businesses under step 3 with a capacity limit of 50 people, as well as ensuring customers are seated and separated.
However, no date has been associated with the introduction of step 3. Each phase will be reviewed on a weekly basis.
Hospitality NZ chief executive Julie White said it was "devastating" news for Auckland operators and she feared many would be forced to close as a result.
"It's obviously welcome that the Prime Minister has announced that the wage subsidy will be extended for all three phases of the road map.
"But I think this is going to be the [final] nail in the coffin for a lot of hospitality operators, especially in Auckland."
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On Saturday, the NZ Herald reported two leading restaurants on Auckland's waterfront, Euro and Saxon + Parole, have closed their doors, unable to keep trading under Covid-19.
White attended a webinar yesterday with more than 300 hospitality operators in Auckland.
She cited the "eye-watering" amount of debt operators had racked up, as well as stories of owners pouring their savings into their businesses, just to stay afloat.
"I'm really concerned for the hospitality operators, not only their livelihoods, their mental wellbeing as well.
"I think there's going to be a lot of hospitality operators who are going to have a sleepless night tonight."
For operators in alert level 2, the capacity limit of 100 people had been scrapped, but the seated and separated requirements were still in place.
White said this would be welcome news for operators, but noted many hospitality businesses relied on Aucklanders and would be hurt by the continuance of alert level 3 around the city.