Hospitality Business Magazine

Capacity cap for venues a waste of time says Hospitality NZ

COVID-19 settings changes announced by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern today do not go far enough and increasing the capacity cap for venues is a waste of time, says Hospitality NZ.

The end to mandates for staff and vaccine passes for customers are welcomed by the hospitality and accommodation sectors but increasing the capacity cap for venues will make little difference for larger venues, says Hospitality New Zealand.

Ardern says data shows hospitality had a relatively low secondary attack rate of 6.7 percent, which is backed up by other research.

She says it’s the view of public health officials hospitality gathering limits can be increased in the red setting from 100 to 200 without having a significant impact on the health system, particularly when retaining the seated and separated rules.

Vaccine Pass Mandates to end

Ardern also announced that vaccine passes will no longer be required from 11.59pm on 4 April.

Businesses and events will still be able to use them, if they choose to do so, but they will no longer be mandated, she says.

Ardern says masks are vital, and while people do not like them – for good reason – a study from the British Medical Journal late last year showed mask wearing reduced new cases by 53 percent.

In Orange, outdoor events will also be limitless. Close contact is higher risk for indoor events however so organisers of events over 500 people are encouraged to either add extra capacity or provide seating.

Green will not have restrictions but there will be guidance, and will not change.

“These changes are based on the best available evidence we have right now in real time. We believe they will make the Covid Protection Framework easier to maintain while also still being very effective,” Ardern says.

She says the changes can be made almost immediately and will come into effect at 11.59pm on 25 March.

Bloody Hard

However, Hospitality NZ CEO, Julie White contends the moving of the cap is a waste of time and it remains very hard for the hospitality sector.

“The Prime Minister says things have been ‘bloody hard’ – well, I can say this has been very bloody hard for hospitality and accommodation businesses.

“Moving the cap to 200 is a waste of time, because people still have to be seated. Why 200? It’s nonsensical.

“The cap should be pinned to the capacity of the venue. Lifting it will not work for bars and other night venues. The seated model does not work for them, even with a higher cap.

“These are businesses that have been disproportionately impacted through the whole two years of the pandemic.

“They are suffering reduced revenue while paying higher labour costs to police all this. Where is the additional support to help them carry that load?

“I have one member with multiple venues who says he’s scraping the bottom of the barrel and has nothing left to support his businesses. And I know he’s not the only one.

“Businesses are running out of patience.

“The removal of outdoor limits while having indoor seated limits is also nonsensical. You can play a game of rugby where players are all over each other, but when they go for a beer later, they have to be seated and spaced apart. How ridiculous is that?

“As the Prime Minister said today, the data speaks for itself and virus spread in hospitality is low. That’s exactly what we have been saying, so if that’s the case why are we staying in the Red setting?

“The planning for all this has been haphazard, to say the least. 

“We’re opening to the world but we have these nonsensical solutions. Nothing is running concurrently or complimentary.  To have to wait until the 4th of April when every day counts for those in hospitality and accommodation is just going to be too late for some.

“And all the while hospitality businesses continue to be hammered.”