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Level 1 Lifeline Lauded By Hospitality New Zealand

Today’s confirmation from the Government that New Zealand will move to Level 1 from midnight tonight, has been welcomed by Hospitality New Zealand.

The association has been strongly advocating for the strict restrictions placed on the hospitality sector to be lifted for some time now, as many local bars, cafes, restaurants and accommodation providers continue to struggle, impacting the lives of hundreds of thousands of Kiwis.

Hospitality New Zealand Chief Executive, Julie White, says transitioning to Level 1 means that many hospitality operators can now begin to reclaim a sense of normality and that it will provide customers the much-needed confidence to go out and safely socialise (and spend) again.

“Today’s news of no active COVID-19 cases is a significant achievement that our team of five million should all be proud of. The hospitality sector has also shown incredible resilience throughout this difficult time banding together to ensure that the health and safety of our communities remains paramount.

“They’ve been forced to adapt to different ways of operating as each level has decreased, and the restrictions that hospitality operators (and their customers) have had to wrestle with have been incredibly challenging - so, we’re very excited to be getting back to business.”

Hospitality New Zealand expects that with restrictions such as social distancing and table service restraints lifted, businesses in the hospitality and accommodation sectors will start to recover and slowly return, over time, to profitability.

While some accommodation providers and leisure hotspots saw a return to normal visitor and occupancy levels over Queen’s Birthday weekend, the following day’s return saw a huge dip - with a mere 5% occupancy rate in the accommodation sector, demonstrating the long road ahead to recovery.

The full year forecast predicts a 30% occupancy (at best) for accommodation and hotel providers. Similarly, the challenges of COVID-19 have also led to a 30% reduction in employment across the hospitality sector.

While the recently announced changes to the Wage Subsidy extension is expected to assist an additional 40,000 businesses across the country, this alone won’t be enough to save many operators in the industry.

“The hospitality sector relies on people - tourists, office workers, social gatherings and foot traffic. With Kiwis now encouraged to go back to their workplaces, this presents a huge opportunity for people to support their local hospitality businesses.

“We’re still asking all our members to display their QR codes so that customers can continue to track their own movements for contact tracing purposes,” says White.

Hospitality New Zealand also supports the proposed development of the Government ‘smart border’ concept as it will enable some international tourists to return here sooner and open up a much-needed opportunity for the hospitality and tourism sector.

“The quicker we can move out of our current micro-economy, the better. As a nation, we’ve shown solidarity and performed incredibly well to fight this health crisis. With the transition to Level 1, we can all step up and play our part in supporting the full recovery of Kiwi businesses which have been hit so hard,” concludes White.

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