VIRUS LATEST
• Four-stage alert system for Covid-19 announced
• New Zealand moved up to Covid-19 alert level 2 – reduce contact
• New Zealanders over 70 and those with certain medical conditions told to stay at home as much as they can to reduce risk of contact with the virus. There are 528,000 people aged 70-plus in New Zealand
• Workplaces to implement plans to reduce person-to-person contact, including work from home where possible
• Limit all non-essential domestic travel
Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website


New Zealand's bars, pubs, clubs, restaurants, and casinos will remain open but patrons will need to sign a guest register at the door, the Government has announced.

Health Minister David Clark revealed the new restrictions for the ailing hospitality sector, impacted hard by the coronavirus pandemic, this afternoon.

The guidelines developed between the Government, Hospitality New Zealand and SkyCity Entertainment Group, set out how the new restrictions on physical distancing and the limit of 100 people in an indoor space will work in bars and restaurants and other hospitality and entertainment venues.

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They include implementing a Covid-19 guest register of everyone in a venue and undertaking regular head counts of people in a venue.

It also includes configuring electronic gaming machines to allow appropriate physical distancing of at least 1m and limiting table games at a casino to five persons per table.

"These measures are important to protect the health of New Zealanders, which is our number one priority," Clark said.

Health Minister David Clark has revealed new restrictions for the ailing hospitality sector, impacted hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
Health Minister David Clark has revealed new restrictions for the ailing hospitality sector, impacted hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

"They will change the way we attend bars and restaurants and have an impact on the way people go about living their lives, but we have to apply common sense in these circumstances.

"Many of us look forward to a visit a café or restaurant to mark special occasions or share time with friends and family. My hope is these changes will allow us to still make the most of these times while keeping us all safer."

It comes as the Government has already banned gatherings of 500 people outdoors and 100 people indoors.

And Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern today asked all people over 70 or with compromised immune systems to stay at home and urge that all non-essential domestic travel to be curtailed.

She also had a stern message for New Zealanders who are not taking the threat of Covid-19 seriously, saying they should think about their friends and family and consider that their blithe approach could imperil people's lives.

In her first ever address to the nation today, she also introduced a four-tier alert system based on the spread of the virus. New Zealand is currently at level two.

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Hospitality NZ Auckland president Russell Gray yesterday said business revenue is down 50-60 per cent.

"Everything is drying up and revenues are falling off a cliff. That's the sad, harsh reality," he said.

The Covid-19 guest register will include the date and time they arrived, their full name and address, along with phone number and email address.

"Bars and nightclubs should require guests to put their details in the register before being served," the advice says.

Guest details should be kept in the register for four weeks and "will only be used for the purpose of contact tracing" at the request of the Ministry of Health or local DHBs.

Anyone seen in a casino with "flu like symptoms" may be evicted and denied entry for a period of 14 days.

Clark thanked the hospitality industry for its "constructive engagement" in developing the guidelines.

"We're all in this together and the guidelines demonstrate how important good will and cooperation is at this time," he said.

"I also want to thank in advance the public for their patience with bar and restaurant owners who will be acting in the best interests of all New Zealanders through implementing these guidelines."

Julie White, chief executive of Hospitality New Zealand, said they appreciated that the government is "continually adapting and responding" to the coronavirus situation.

The new hospitality guidelines, she said, are a "practical solution" for hospitality venues to continue to operate and help assist with reducing the transmission of Covid-19.

"It is paramount that we as industry work with Government during these unprecedented times," White said.

"Hospitality's top concern is the wellbeing of our people."

SkyCity Entertainment Group chief executive Graeme Stephens backed the measures.

"We employ over 4000 people in New Zealand and by working within these guidelines from government we can achieve our main priority at the moment, which is to stay open and operating for as long as possible to maintain shifts for staff and keep as many people as we can on a steady income throughout these unprecedented times," he said.