Hospitality venues are scrambling to understand the dos and don'ts of alert level 2 amid confusion over what diners can and can't do.

The Hospitality Association has asked for clarification from the Government after references to trading as if it was Easter or Anzac Day confused venue operators.

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Hospitality New Zealand chief executive Julie White said many members had sought advice because they were confused about exactly what was allowed when restaurants, clubs and casinos reopen tomorrow, in line with the drop from alert level 3 at midnight tonight.


"Our guys can't wait to open but they want to do the right thing and get this right so this is just another layer of stress."

The confusion came about when Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said bars would be distinguished from restaurants by using the Easter trading regulations, during Monday's announcement about moving to alert level 2 this week.

White said under Easter trading gambling machines could not operate, pool tables were closed and there were restrictions on alcohol.

But under alert level 2, gaming machines are open, as are pool tables and there are no restrictions on alcohol for seated patrons.

However White said it's the way those rules are managed that is crucial. For example pool players should stick to their table and once finished the table and equipment need to be cleaned.

Diners at a restaurant shouldn't do "rounds" at the bar and there are strict social-distancing rules around gaming machines and gambling, but they are allowed.

White said there were also concerns over counter food ordering.

She said level 2 was about limiting people's potential exposure to the coronavirus, and that there was an intention for people to only spend about two hours dining.


"It is confusing. We are in uncharted waters with Covid-19."

At the Hamilton Cosmopolitan Club, gaming will only open to members and those who are at the club to dine or play sport.

The club is opening tomorrow for the first time in seven weeks and manager Ian Morgan said he can't wait.

Morgan said the club, opening on restricted hours for the next week, was primarily opening to serve meals.

Pokie machines will reopen to punters but players must either be spaced apart or partitioned from each other under alert level 2. Photo / Paul Taylor
Pokie machines will reopen to punters but players must either be spaced apart or partitioned from each other under alert level 2. Photo / Paul Taylor

The bar would be open for a happy hour but drinks were to be taken seated, and the TAB would not begin operating until next Thursday.

Gaming machines would be separated by partition and sport activities were allowed with social distancing rules in place.

"Members can come in and play darts, snooker, eight-ball, and outdoor or indoor bowls, as long as when they're playing they are seated [after their turn]."

Morgan said most of the club's darts and snooker players had their own darts and pool cues.

There would be hand sanitiser stations around the club and at all the sports tables.

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The 700-member club must adhere to the 100-person limit and Morgan said if they were at capacity and a member arrived, the member would take preference over a member of an affiliated club.

Morgan said "Joe Blogs can't walk in off the street", only members can enter the club in Claudelands.

He was expecting a number of members to turn up to tomorrow's reopening, particularly as 20 per cent had already paid the membership fee while in lockdown.

"It's very encouraging for the club. It shows that people want their club and support their club, and are going to come back to their club."

The Internal Affairs Department said on its website that gambling venues should be wary of and monitor for problem gambling.

It was expecting venue staff to:

• Have more frequent conversations and interactions with gamblers during the initial weeks/months of level 2 restrictions, while maintaining appropriate distancing;

• Look closely for signs of harmful gambling, including length of play, frequency of play and spend;

• Log or record any concerns about gamblers' conduct. The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website

"We expect venues and Corporate Societies to be aware that there may be a surge in the number of gamblers coming to Class 4 venues to gamble after the lockdown in alert levels 3 and 4."

SkyCity said on its website under alert level 2, only Premier Rewards members may enter SkyCity Casino.

Other members would be allowed back in a staggered process.

"This will ensure we have a central register of who is on site and when, so we can support the Ministry of Health with contact tracing, if required."

Facial recognition technology would be used to record customers for contact tracing if required.

The advice remained that anyone with flu-like symptoms should stay home.