24 Apr 2020

Covid-19: New Zealanders 'counting the days' until drop to level 3

12:19 pm on 24 April 2020

New Zealanders are gearing up to make the most of the move to Covid-19 alert level 3.

Kitchen staff in Cassia Restaurant on Fort Lane, Auckland City.

Kitchen staff working in Cassia Restaurant in pre Covid-19 times. Photo: RNZ/ Brad White

Businesses which may gain slightly more freedom to operate than under alert level 4 include restaurants and builders, while hunters, surfers and fishers may again be able to engage in recreational activity.

While customers may not be allowed to dine on restaurant's premises - they are figuring out ways to have food delivered or picked up - in accordance with the level 3 guidelines.

And that does not necessarily just apply to takeaway food, Chand Sahrawat who is the co-owner of three Auckland eateries, Sidard, Cassia, and Sid at the French Cafe said they have been considering how to get "fine dining into a box".

She said that includes thinking about what customers want at this point and paying the usual price of $175 for a degustation dinner is not likely to work because of the delivery difficulties and the price.

She said there has been a joint meeting with the restaurants' chefs.

"We're thinking at Sid at The French cafe we're going to do things like classic French dishes like beef bourguignon, duck l'orange - they translate well - we've added salad, we've added bread and dessert - $45, so we're pricing to the market."

She said it was a starting point and ultimately they will do what the customers want.

Sahrawat said they were not doing it for the money and they have never done takeaways or delivery before. She said they would be doing the deliveries themselves and redeploying some of the restaurant staff to do so to keep them employed and because the cost of using Uber Eats was prohibitive.

"Even at mid-level dining with Cassia, for example a restaurant that has a turnover for $60,000 to $70,000 a week, if we can make $10,000 that would be great."

Now that customers cannot come to the restaurants, it's time to meet the customer, she said, customers have supported us for 11 years and we are doing it for them, our suppliers and our staff.

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Builders ready to work again

The construction industry will start again under alert level 3, with builders allowed back on site provided they follow strict safety guidelines.

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The construction industry will be able to operate under alert level 3. Photo: 123RF

Johnny Calley runs a house building firm in Tauranga and has about 25 builders on his staff and they are looking forward to swinging back into motion at alert level 3 on Tuesday.

Calley said they are expecting to see significant changes to construction sites when work gets underway and they will have to adapt to rules around social distancing.

"The principles that the government set out around hand sanitation and hygiene, basic health assessments and also contact tracing are going to be implemented right at the gate of each building site to manage the risk of unwanted community transmission."

He said there will be strict entry and exit procedures, provisions for hand sanitation and contact tracing, and only one sub-trader will be allowed on-site at a time.

Deliveries will be at restricted levels and although the industry is getting back up and running, it is likely to only be at around 60 percent of the level that it was at pre-lockdown, Calley said.

Hunters to head back into the bush

Hunters around the country are getting excited to go out again after getting limited permission to return to the bush.

Hunting has been banned since the country went into Covid-19 alert level 4.

The government gave them permission yesterday, but it comes with certain rules - people must hunt on private land, not head out for longer than a day trip, stay on foot, keep to their bubbles and stay within their own region.

The duck hunting season will go ahead but not until the second weekend after the start of level 2.

A hunter loads a rifle with ammunition.

Photo: 123RF

Hunter Bill O'Leary told Morning Report that it will be nice to go out on a hill again.

He said a number of hunters will be able to take advantage of the situation under the new rules.

"I think one of the groups that will really appreciate this is our pig hunting people, a lot of them hunt on private land and have access to private land and farmers will welcome them too because of the number of pigs and that around the place."

But O'Leary said there will be some difficulties hunting under level 3.

"The restriction on operating in proximity with people that are outside of your bubble, in my particular instance for example most of hunting here in the town I live in is done with adult friends that are outside of my bubble, so that means that over the next period of time I'll basically be hunting by myself."

Fishers and surfers can return to the water

The drop in alert levels will also mean it is okay to fish from the shore again.

Jack Rogers is counting the days until he can get back to his favourite spot on Ninety Mile Beach.

It is as much about being outdoors and fishing on the beach, as actually catching fish, he said.

Tahitian surfer Michel Bourez

Surfers will be allowed to hit the waves at level 3 (file picture). Photo: PHOTOSPORT

While surfer Jarrod Hancox said it has been very hard to resist surfing over the last few weeks, especially when the conditions are great.

Hancox usually surfs daily and said although he is happy to sit it out if he is injured, this has been difficult because he's completely healthy but not allowed to surf.

He said next week's forecast is looking positive and at some beaches, such as Raglan, it may be difficult to ensure social distancing.

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