A sadly long list of loved Auckland eateries have been forced to close their doors due to the extreme financial pressures placed on them by lockdowns and other Covid-19 mandates. Now, even though restaurants are technically allowed to open, they are still battling.
Just yesterday a story circulated that Ima, a central Auckland eatery famous for its hot cross buns, had been forced to close its doors for the evening due to a lack of bookings.
She was used to serving 100 customers at a time, but instead yesterday Ima owner Yael Shochat was hanging a sign in the restaurant's window announcing that the restaurant would not be able to open that night due to a lack of bookings.
Diners are staying away in droves due to the spectre of Omicron and if that isn't challenging enough, today a host of eateries revealed that they have been forced to close up temporarily due to staff either contracting Covid or being identified as close contacts.
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Restaurants including Homeland, Prego, Lillius, Gemmayze St, Williams Eatery, Ebisu, Lobster & Tap and Oyster Inn all took to Instagram over the last few days to advise customers of forced closures brought on by Covid-related staff shortages.
A plea from the New Zealand Restaurant Association asks that more be done to assist the hospitality industry in managing instances of suspected covid cases among staff in an efficient manner.
"Whilst the move to phase 3 is certainly helpful we are also aware that our industry employs a large number of younger people, many of whom are living in flatting situations and larger households," says Marisa Bidois, CEO of the Restaurant Association.
"This means the chances of them becoming household contacts of positive cases is greater. Given this is a workforce that cannot work from home, the ability to be able to test to work has never been more important.
"We would like access to the critical worker exemption, which will allow employees who are testing negative to return to work, extended more industries including hospitality."
Being given the critical worker exception would also give staff access to rapid antigen tests - fondly known as RATs - enabling them to get results quickly in order to return to work.