A major Auckland restaurant founder is calling for calm and patience in the hospitality industry, saying bars and restaurants need to follow the rules in level 2, not try to skirt them.
Britomart Hospitality Group's Nick McCaw is speaking up after HeadQuarters bar owner Leo Molloy confirmed his 100-person party was going ahead on Friday - and following a social media rant on the Facebook page of HeadQuarters bar, which Molloy owns.
The post - which has since been deleted - took aim at Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's stance that bars were high risk for spreading Covid-19. Cabinet decided on Monday that while restaurants could open from midnight tonight, bars had to delay their opening until next Thursday, .
A previously stated 100-person limit for indoor gatherings had also been cut to 10.
When asked about Molloy's planned party today, Ardern said New Zealand would be acting under the Anzac provisions this weekend and there couldn't be groups of more than 10.
She wasn't sure what involvement Molloy had with police.
Molloy had been planning to hold a 100-person party at HeadQuarters bar this Friday, with a number of high-profile invitees. Following Monday's announcement he's confirmed he still plans to do so, but says they will need to stick to bubbles of 10 people or fewer.
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Molloy's guest list was to include Destiny Church's Brian and Hannah Tamaki, John Tamihere, National MP Nikki Kaye, National deputy leader Paula Bennett and Sir Graham Henry.
Kaye has told the Herald she will not be going - she would instead be seeing her mum. The Herald has been unable to verify whether other named invitees would be attending.
Molloy has promised all attendees will comply with the restrictions, including being seated and having individual table service.
But McCaw - founder and owner of Mexico, Better Burger, Orleans and a number of other venues - felt getting 100 people into a bar "muddies the waters" for other venues who are trying to follow the rules.
"It gets other operators thinking about how to circumvent the intent of the restrictions and none of that's good for us as an industry or a society."
Bars and restaurants had been badly hurt by the lockdown and level 3 restrictions but most in the industry were working hard to come back in a way that complied with the requirements, he said.
McCaw said Molloy was a "good operator" and had a great venue. But he believed Molloy was "behaving like a child at a time when the whole industry needs calm heads and a measured, sensible approach".
Molloy tonight said he had no idea who McCaw was and did not wish to comment.
"As of tomorrow I'm allowed to open and trade but I'm not. On Friday I'm going to gently ease myself back into this system. I have confirmed and consulted with all the relevant authorities about how we might do it before we formally open on Tuesday," Molloy said.
McCaw believed the Government's overall approach had been fair throughout the crisis, despite tough calls being made.
"Lots of industries have been singled out and restricted... but that's life, that's the situation and that's what we're in, together, to get out the other end."
The job the Government had done was impossibly hard and every decision would hurt someone, he said.
"That's not to say there have been no mistakes or ways things could have been done better," he said. "But I'm genuinely grateful we're looking like coming out of this with minimal loss of life."
A number of McCaw's nightclubs and cocktail bars will not be opening tomorrow. This includes Caretaker cocktail bar in Britomart - a seated venue that had a "strong argument" that it could technically open, but had chosen not to.
However the five Mexico restaurants would be opening tomorrow, which was "fantastic".
"We've been really delighted by the number of customers who have reached out in the last couple of days to book tables," he said.
"I think the opportunity's going to be there for things to come back to some sense of normal. It's going to be tough to trade really well under current restrictions but at least we're open and we're grateful."
He wanted people to focus on doing what they can to stay positive.
"If everyone wants to pick on one thing that disadvantages them we'll never get through."