12 Aug 2020

Wellington businesses nervous about Covid-19 spread from Auckland

From Checkpoint, 6:24 pm on 12 August 2020

Wellington bar owners are worried that the many unknowns about new Covid-19 cases in Auckland will make punters nervous to come out.

Four cases of Covid-19 picked up in the community were confirmed in South Auckland on Tuesday, with the Director General of Health confirming this morning one of those people infected travelled to Rotorua while symptomatic.

Panhead Tory Street bar owner and Wellington Hospitality NZ branch president, Matt McLaughlin says his team has been separating tables and reinstalling Covid-19 tracer signs on Wednesday morning ahead of opening as usual.

But he told Checkpoint he is expecting some slow days ahead as punters might be scared to come out due to the uncertainty of where these new cases come from.

Despite Wellington only going to Covid-19 alert level 2, some events in the capital are being postponed or cancelled due to the uncertainty of community transmission. 

Retail and hospitality businesses across the region have now reinstalled contact tracing signs and social distancing markers on the ground.

Michael Gray, the owner of Buzz Cafe in Lower Hutt, said he was gutted when the new cases were announced on Tuesday night, with the subsequent Auckland lockdown.

In Lower Hutt he says many businesses around him were just getting back on their feet, and things were ticking along okay.

But he is concerned shoppers might keep their wallets firmly in their pockets due to the uncertainty.

That's a view shared by Matt McLaughlin Panhead Tory Street bar owner and Wellington Hospitality NZ branch president.

Director General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield confirmed if new cases were picked up outside Auckland a nationwide lockdown is possible

Mr McLaughlin says the impact of that would be devastating.

The Porirua City Council was planning to hold a LoveLocal Expo this weekend - an event aimed at boosting the profile of local businesses after the first Covid-19 lockdown.

It's now a nervous wait for many, while the Ministry of Health tries to figure out how far, if at all, Covid-19 has spread.