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HELP! Auckland hospitality sector is hurting

Common sense and straight talk from an industry insider

A well-known restauranteur has penned an open letter to Auckland mayor Phil Goff appealing for stronger leadership and more help for the hospitality sector. A sector that is “desperate” and struggling under the weight of the current COVID-19 lockdown.

Tony McGeorge, owner of Cafe Hanoi, Saan and Ghost Street Saan wrote: “My wife and I are Auckland restauranteurs, passionate about our businesses, our staff, our customers and our city. We’re hurting. We don’t want a handout, but we do need help to get through the chaos that Covid has brought in its wake.”

His letter pointed out that the livelihoods of small business owners and many workers depend on Auckland being an open and vibrant city.

He said: “The Auckland lockdown is creating great expense and incredible uncertainty. We fear that this may continue for months to come and into 2022. We’re not arguing against a lockdown. We’re not saying we must open up and learn to live with COVID.

“We’re saying that more needs to be done to mitigate its impact on good businesses and the people they employ. That takes courage and leadership and, fairly or unfairly, we feel that the office of the Mayor has not shown the leadership the city needs.

“Certainly not since we entered the current level 4 lockdown. We have seen little evidence of strong advocacy on behalf of the city or plans to relieve the impact of the response to COVID-19 on Auckland businesses. We need you to fight for us.”

Mr McGeorge’s main demand is for wage subsidies for Auckland workers at Alert Level 2 now and in 2022 and he stressed that this is economically necessary to keep staff employed and retained.

He also wants quarantine facilities to be moved out of Auckland CBD by 2022 and suggested that facilities should be relocated to less populated areas to remove the constant threat of the city being locked down, due to the reality of the very infectious Delta variant escaping quarantine facilities.

He called for immediate action to develop a mass vaccination facility in Auckland CBD.

Finally, he asked for more investment in activities and events to help businesses across the sector rebound.

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