Covid-19: New gathering limit under 'Delta level 2' a mixed bag for businesses
An increase in the number of people allowed at gatherings under an easing of Covid-19 restrictions is a welcome relief to hospitality businesses.
But other entertainment venues remain stuck in limbo and are desperate for a move to alert level 1.
On Monday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the Auckland region would move to alert level 3 for two weeks at 11.59pm on Tuesday, after spending more than a month at alert level 4 due to the Delta outbreak.
The rest of the country will remain at what Ardern calls “Delta level 2”, but with a relaxing of some hospitality restrictions to allow up to 100 people in indoor settings, up from 50.
* Covid-19: Relief for some at new level 2, but dismay at tougher rules
* Christchurch theatres prepare for possible move to level two restrictions
* Covid-19: ASB Theatre 'busy waiting' to see what they can do in level 2
However, the increase would change nothing at Christchurch’s Isaac Theatre Royal’s 1200-capacity venue, according to chief executive Bob Mangan, as it could only operate fully at alert level 1.
Hit hard by last year’s lockdown which saw the theatre’s takings drop by 63 per cent, Mangan said the lockdowns had proved “challenging” for the independent theatre.
Mangan believed the South Island should have been moved down to level 1 because there had been zero Covid-19 cases.
In the short term a number of shows had been cancelled, he said.
“The longer it takes, the less likely we will keep shows, and it makes the medium to long-term challenging.”
Mangan said they were looking at a number of concepts and opportunities, including a life-size “event game”.
“We remain positive and are looking at innovative ways to bring our community together.”
For Christchurch’s Court Theatre bosses, the Government’s announcement was a step in the right direction.
Chief executive Barbara George said while the theatre would still only be able to earn 25 per cent of normal ticket revenue, she was pleased the move would allow them to explore more options.
“Obviously level 1 is what we want, but this is a good start.”
Previously the theatre announced it was pausing the season of Frankenstein, due to run until September 4, while level 2 restrictions were in place, but George said they were now re-considering if the production could go ahead with a quarter of the expected audience.
She said the theatre had suffered a “significant financial impact” from the lockdown but, as in the past, it had shown it can rise from adversity.
“We remain cautiously optimistic that we will be able to do enough to keep our organisation stable.”
Cardrona and Treble Cone general manager Bridget Legnavsky was “really happy” at the increase to 100 people indoors, saying it had been a “struggle” to manage food and beverage areas at the ski-fields.
“It’s progress,” she said.
With no Aucklanders able to travel south, the ski-fields have been hit by the stop-start trans-Tasman bubble.
Legnavsky wasn’t confident that Aucklanders would be able to travel in time for the school holidays that start on October 2, saying they haven’t factored them in as forming part of the rest of the season.
Seth Hamilton, co-owner of The Craft Embassy, Soul Quarter and Cascade in Christchurch, said the increase in the number of people inside venues was “really good for us”.
Hamilton said increasing capacity would give people confidence they would be able to get into a venue.
With a slow first weekend in level 2 and a marginally better one last weekend, Hamilton said while the change made the restrictions manageable, level 1 would be better.