The events sector is one of many around the country feeling “gutted” at the announcement of another Covid-19 alert level shift.
Mike Swan, catering hospitality manager at Spark Arena, was celebrating a relative return to normal earlier yesterday as his 450-strong team prepared for the Joseph Parker v Junior Fa boxing match.
But then news of a press conference with the Prime Minister spread “like wildfire”. By 9pm, the news of Auckland’s shift to Alert Level 3 and the rest of the country to Alert Level 2 from 6am had come.
“Gutted ‘cause we just went in and out,” Swan told 1 NEWS last night of the return to Alert Level 3 after just two weeks.
“It’s either [Alert Level] 4 or 1. Two and 3 are the same as 4 for us — we can’t operate.
“We’re buggered. So, it’s gutting. We were just getting back in.”
Swan was planning for a busy March, including an event at Western Springs next Saturday, which he said probably wasn’t going ahead.
The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the events industry was often “forgotten”, despite it being a “massive industry that employs a lot of people”, he said.
But, Swan was supportive of the lockdown.
“I totally understand. I think the Government has handled things well,” he said.
“We’ve gone down this route of eradication so I think we’ve got to stay the course.”
Meanwhile, the Restaurant Association said the alert level move was “another major blow for our industry who are already struggling to recover from the compounded impact of changes to alert levels and border closures”.
“With borders closed, our revenues continue to suffer and these changes of alert levels are incredibly difficult to manage,” Restaurant Association CEO Marisa Bidois said.
“Sunday is a big day for hospo and our businesses will have stocked up on food for the days ahead incurring wastage costs on top of significantly reduced revenues.
“Whilst it’s good to see that the wage subsidy has been confirmed this time, we cannot stress enough the urgent need for the government to respond with a tailored financial package for our industry.”
The industry had some reprieve last night, though, as boxing fans last night made the most of their final few hours.
“We’ll be home by 5.59am,” a pair told 1 NEWS on their way out of the Parker v Fa fight.
They said it was “fantastic” and they were “stoked” the match went ahead, and would be counting down the days until Auckland moved down alert levels.