Auckland restaurants expecting busy Covid-19 alert level 3

A deserted central Auckland in the midst of the August 2021 lockdown.

2021-09-22 00:30:24

Auckland restaurants have been scrubbing down and stocking up as they get ready to reopen for business.

A deserted central Auckland in the midst of the August 2021 lockdown.

A deserted central Auckland in the midst of the lockdown in August.
Photo: RNZ / Robert Smith

Cafes, restaurants and takeaways can open at alert level 3 for contactless pick-up, delivery or drive through, but some say they won’t be opening, as it’s not worth it.

Dunkin’ Donuts Queen Street store manager Khin Estay said ahead of this morning’s reopening at 7am, she and another staff member were busy with preparation.

“Right now it’s just like preparing everything, like turning on all the machines and checking whether our stocks are still good or expired already … and then cleaning,” she said.

Blue Ox Babe Barbecue in the south Auckland suburb of Pukekohe was sets to open this afternoon. Owner Mark Woodward was expecting it to be busy.

“It’ll be busy this week. Kiwis have been in lockdown for five weeks. The freezers and the pantries will be pretty bare, I’d say, and like last level 3 lockdowns, they’ve done very well for us.”

Woodward was looking forward to seeing staff members and customers and he was confident that level 3 rules would be well-maintained.

“We put a lot of work into this and the previous lock down to really think every intricate process of the customers’ engagement and interaction with us and we’re very happy how it worked last time, and there’s absolutely no need to change anything this time around,” he said

Nicky Partridge said she was excited to reopen Street Organics cafe in Takapuna. If the cafe just broke even, it would still be worth it, she said.

“You know a lot of our customers are really missing what we provide, so a lot of them are just hanging out for a beautiful barista-prepared coffee and some are just wanting anything that they haven’t cooked themselves, and knowing that it’s healthy and nutritious and whole foods coming from us and can suit all their dietary style.”

However, some restaurants will not be operating, such as Oyster and Chop in the Viaduct area of the city.

Owner Michael Opperman said “We are a steakhouse and seafood [restaurant], oysters – that does not travel well and you know we don’t have a huge population living in the Viaduct so there just wouldn’t be worth it under level 3.”

He was desperate to see the city get to alert level 2 within two weeks and hoped the borders would reopen one day with high vaccinate rates

“I support the government on their choices of the lockdowns and I just felt we did have to do it. I do feel that we can’t do much longer.”

Sandringham’s Electric Chicken owner Matt Fitzgerald said the business would not even break even but would still open from Thursday, however, he was closing his other takeaway store, Taco Beer, as it had been losing money.

“It’s been awful 18 months, so it’s just not going to be good for the rest of the year either,” he said.

Alert level 3 might mean a little more freedom to buy takeaway food but the government has hammering the message that it is still a tough lockdown.

For people who ignore the rules, punishments have just got a lot stiffer – fines of up $12,000 can now be imposed by the courts. On the spot notices have gone from $300 to $4000.

Aucklanders were split on the move.

Heavenlee Kere said that was a lot of money.

“I feel like because they are posing a risk to the rest of us, it’s probably fair,” she said.

Amanda Wu said there the increase was a bit too much.

“Three hundred is a little bit low but 4000 is a bit high. I’d say maybe about $1500 would be a better,” she said.

Timo Wendel also believed it was right to increase the fine but the change was too drastic.

“Maybe increase it a little bit first and that not so much because families will struggle a lot, so I think it’s a little bit hard of a punishment,” he said.

Businesses that breach the Covid-19 Public Health Response Act now risk a fine of up to $15,000.

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