In response to an unusual case of COVID-19 being discovered in the community, the NZ government announced that from 6 am on Sunday, February 28 Auckland would return to Level 3 lockdown, and the rest of New Zealand to level 2, for at least seven days in order to protect the wider community.
On Saturday The Ministry of Health, confirmed a new case of COVID-19 had been identified in the community. Due to the lack of clear epidemiological link and the long time period the patient could have been infectious, PM Jacinda Ardern quickly instituted another strict lockdown.
The news of the lockdown coming so soon after the last will hit the hospitality sector particularly hard says Hospitality New Zealand, and it will result in a wash of cancellations throughout the country.
Chief Executive Julie White says hospitality operators will have held crisis meetings and would work through the night to adhere to the new settings. Accommodation operators will have less than twelve hours to pivot how they adhere to the new settings, including canceling buffet breakfasts and other functions planned for the day.
She said: “As the week goes on, all hospitality businesses will be hit hard, in Auckland, they will have to close for the second time this month and the impact will ripple throughout New Zealand.
“The only saving grace for some is the wage subsidy and the business resurgence fund, however, for others, these support packages will barely scratch the surface when it comes to covering the immediate losses and cancelations to come.
“Our hospitality businesses are an essential part of our communities and will provide much of the employment that is needed for the recovery, but they can’t do that if they’re not here. Yoyoing in and out of alert levels may leave some operators contemplating how they will be able to continue to operate.”
Hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders rely on hospitality businesses for their living — from hotel, café, bar, casino and restaurant staff through to cleaning contractors, bakeries and delivery drivers.
The hospitality and tourism sectors collectively bring $40 billion per year into the New Zealand economy and employ more than 400,000 people.
For Kiwis affected by the Auckland outbreak, the government offers a suite of income support packages, Minister for Social Development and Employment Carmel Sepuloni urges people, and businesses, connected to the recent Auckland COVID-19 cases to check the Work and Income website if they’ve been impacted by the need to self-isolate.
“If you are required to self-isolate and can’t work from home, I encourage you to check the Work and Income website and talk to your employer about the government support you may be eligible for,” said Carmel Sepuloni.
The Work and Income website provides clear and concise information about what support is available for different contact categories and locations of interest, connected to the recent Auckland COVID-19 cases.