The Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced New Zealand will remain at current lockdown levels until September 21 prompting the Restaurant Association of New Zealand to express concern at the decision’s impact on the hospitality industry outside of Auckland.
“While we’re disappointed to be spending more time at level 2.5 in Auckland we’re not surprised at the decision that has been made. We are, however, disappointed and surprised to see the rest of the country remaining at level 2 as we know how challenging the level 2 guidelines are for our industry,” said Marisa Bidois, CEO of the Restaurant Association.
“We continue to engage with government on action needed to assist our struggling businesses. In the absence of certainty and clarity, we are calling for the government to work with us to adapt the current operational guidelines for our industry at each level as the guidelines we are currently working under are making it increasingly difficult for our businesses to be viable.
“We also continue to call for targeted assistance to compensate our businesses who through no fault of their own are experiencing significantly reduced revenues. “We met with treasury last week to discuss some of the ideas we’ve put on the table such as our Dine Out To Help Out scheme as well as additional fiscal relief as this pandemic continues to disrupt our lives. ”
Jacinda Ardern said Cabinet has decided to extend the current alert levels.
“On the advice of the director-general, Cabinet has decided on a short extension to the current restrictions of alert level 2.5 for Auckland and level 2 for the rest of the country.”
For Auckland, Cabinet will review the current level at a meeting on Monday 21 September with a view to increase gathering limits, depending on whether the cluster is contained.
If that change is agreed on, it will come into force on 23 September, Ardern says.
She says on Monday 21 September, Cabinet has agreed in principle that the rest of New Zealand will move to alert level 1 – contingent on cases tracking the way they are. The move will be confirmed on Monday.
The level 2 precautions continue to act as a safety barrier against flare-ups for the rest of New Zealand, she says.
She says it has been two weeks – one transmission cycle of the virus – since Auckland moved to level 2.5.
“In that time, we have identified a further 36 cases in the community – all are associated with the wider Auckland cluster and most were people who had a known link to the cluster and so were already isolated.”
Ardern announced physical distancing requirements on planes and public transport will be eased from today.
“From today, public transport operators, including airlines, buses and trains, do not need to maintain any seating restrictions or passenger capacity limits at level 2. Mask use will continue to be compulsory .”
On travelling and airport safety, Ardern says “what we want to see maintained by our airlines is enforcement of mask use because that has been a key part of the director-general’s decision and advice … what we want to see is that when we’re loading passengers, making sure we’re maintaining physical distancing for loading and disembarkation because that’s where you start to see congestion.”