4 Sep 2020

Aucklanders react to news they'll be staying in alert level 2.5

7:18 pm on 4 September 2020

"It is what it is" was the overwhelming sentiment on the streets today, as Aucklanders digested news of at least another 12 days at alert level 2.5.

The usually bustling Queen Street in Auckland during level 3 lockdown.

The usually bustling Queen Street in Auckland during level 3 lockdown. Photo: RNZ / Amy Williams

The restrictions mean no more than 10 people at gatherings, while the rest of the country is limited to a cap of 100 under a continued alert level 2.

Grant Nicholls, who was visiting Auckland from Wellington, said he was happy with the decision for both parts of the country, given the steady trickle of new daily cases.

"We just don't know where its going and what's happening. I think we've dodged a few bullets with the people that have travelled outside that have been potentially stricken with Covid, that they haven't spread it. So we've been lucky," he said.

Bryn Wood said if that was what needed to happen to get a tight hold on the virus "then that's what's going to happen".

Anna Kalatcheva said she was disappointed she wouldn't be able to attend gigs, but she thought the 12-day extension was a "sensible call".

"It seems as though that will be enough time for it to be stomped out," she said.

However, she thought continued restrictions for the rest of the country was less sensible.

"I think it would make more sense for the rest of the country to remain at alert level 1 while Auckland is restricted."

The extension to the alert levels was being described as "incredibly challenging" by Hospitality New Zealand.

It was pushing for the maximum 10-person cap on social gatherings to be removed in Auckland, so operators could get back to the 'new normal'.

Chief executive Julie White said the rules requiring businesses to abide by three S's - seated service, social distancing and single servers - meant many were still losing money.

The Occidental manager Patrick O'Leary

Photo: RNZ

Among them was Occidental Belgian Beer Cafe manager Patrick O'Leary, who had hoped for a drop in alert levels by Monday "or some sort of balance in between", to keep his business ticking over.

"It hasn't quite got that atmosphere of a pub. We've got some music on the weekend but it's not going to be the event we would have had," he said.

He said he was having to keep more staff rostered on to serve individual tables, while there were fewer customers flowing in from local offices as people stuck to working-from-home arrangements.

"So we're spending more money on less customers, basically," he said.

But around the corner in High Street, Chuffed Coffee manager Mayank Chadda was more willing to grin and bear the ongoing burden.

"Definitely we are losing a lot of business. But even if we [went to] level 1 today I don't think so many people are comfortable going out. Many of my clientele are corporate people and they can work from home.

"So they only come outside once or twice a week... so I'm losing those customers anyway... We might as well control it a little more and then open it once we are sure okay, everything's under control now."

"Let's just get it over with... as long as it's over after 12 days. No more surprises."

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