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Letter to Auckland Mayor, Phil Goff

posted on

13 o Mahuru 2021

The Mayor

Phil Goff

Kei te rangatira, tēnā koe

Targeted assistance for Auckland hospitality businesses affected by Level 4 lockdown and further Alert Level changes

As you will be aware, Alert Level 4 lockdown impacts all sectors differently. For us in hospitality, every Alert Level 4 lockdown sends our businesses scrambling – scrambling to save thousands of dollars’ worth of stock, scrambling to pay wages as per normal, and scrambling to pay ongoing overheads, all while revenue remains at $0.

Not only is the hospitality sector disproportionately impacted, our Auckland hospitality member businesses have had to endure the crippling impact of the alert level changes far more heavily than any other region.

While our members are committed to doing their part for our nation, there is a need to acknowledge and compensate those businesses that are bearing the majority of the cost associated with the current response to COVID-19.

Now, more than ever, business owners are in need of targeted support in order to mitigate fixed costs. This is felt exponentially across our industry because at Alert Level 4 our businesses suffer a 95% drop in revenue; at Alert Level 3 this is between 60% – 40%.

For context, many of our industry has been barred from earning any income at all for 101 days of the last 468 days (20%), and then restricted to earning no more than 50% of our income due to seating, safe distancing & single server rules for an additional 76 days, (another 16% roughly). It does not add up in the eyes of industry.

Targeted support for Auckland hospitality businesses

Extending outdoor dining and food registration licences

In recognition of the trading restrictions at Alert Level 3 and Alert Level 2, we are asking that the Council extend the expiry date for existing and new food registration licences, as well as outdoor dining licences, for at least for the period of time Auckland has spent at heightened alert levels. As I have indicated above, our businesses have been affected for more than 170 days over the past year and a half.

Extending alcohol licences

Alcohol licence fees are another significant cost for licensed hospitality businesses, yet at both Level 4 and Level 3 an on-licence business has no ability to sell or supply alcohol, for which the licence covers. We recognise that there are other organisations involved in the alcohol licensing process, however we ask that Auckland Council work with the relevant bodies to co-ordinate licence extensions for a commensurate period of time.

In addition, we ask that Auckland Council work with Police, Ministry of Health and District Licencing Boards to fast-track new on-premise alcohol licenses.

Outdoor dining space

In August last year, the Council made a commitment to fast-track new food-only outdoor dining licence applications during Alert Level 2 and issue them within 24 hours of receipt. This was to help businesses make use of outdoor space. We ask that this is reinstated now.

We also support the proposal to enable businesses to have bigger outdoor dining areas (given the restrictions to 50 people indoors at Level 2), and this could include taking over local carparks or extending their immediate outdoor footprint.

Regional economic development agency leading the way

We were thrilled to see the recent announcement from Development West Coast (DWC) offering a rebate of up to $500 per business, for those that are offering deliveries during COVID-19 Alert Level 3.

We work closely with Auckland Unlimited and support the work they doing to attract people to Auckland when we are able to open up again as a city, in particular the work around driving people into restaurants.

Level 2 trading around the country is more subdued than it has been previously, and this is something we need to consider as a region. It is encouraging to see this is currently being considered as we plan for the future.

Next Steps

I would welcome the opportunity to meet with you on these options and explore what additional efforts could be made by Auckland Council to provide support for hospitality businesses locked out of trading and those that will have restrictions on trading at other alert levels.

We are also working with the Heart of the City on these matters and support the proposals they have submitted.

Please don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or need anything further. I look forward to hearing from you in due course.

Ngā mihi nui,

Marisa Bidois
Tāhūhū Rangapū (Chief Executive)
Restaurant Association of New Zealand

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