Cafes prepared for new setting, owners says

Forget Me Not Cafe owner Karen Sinclair pours a coffee watched by her employees Amber Sinclair ...
Forget Me Not Cafe owner Karen Sinclair pours a coffee watched by her employees Amber Sinclair (left) and Angela Cruden. PHOTO: CHRISTINE O’CONNOR
South Dunedin cafe owners say they were prepared for the increase in restrictions and are just pleased to be open.

Hospitality venues, such as cafes, bars and restaurants, are some of the most restricted under the Red setting of the traffic light system.

Under Orange, they had no limits on the numbers of people which could enter as long as they were double vaccinated.

After the shift to Red yesterday, they returned to a limit of 100 people in their premises, 1m distancing, seated and separated service as well as the vaccination requirement.

The outbreak and the return of restrictions was expected, Forget Me Not Cafe owner Karen Sinclair said.

"It was just a matter of time, but we were prepared."

She made sure her staff were well educated and the premises was compliant with the rules.

"I made sure everyone was aware of what was going on and making sure we are keeping safe."

Business had been "reasonably steady" yesterday morning, regular customers visiting as usual.

"It is usually quiet on a Monday, so that is nothing unusual," Mrs Sinclair said.

Hospitality Association of New Zealand Otago president Mark Scully said the restrictions under the Red setting were nothing new.

Most businesses had operated in a similar way under the previous alert level system and the sector was pleased it could operate in the Red setting, he said.

"We’d rather be seated and separated with 100 people than be closed all together."

The sector’s biggest concern with the outbreak was what would happen if a staff member became infected with Covid-19.

Given the worker shortage in the sector, if a key staff member, such as a chef, became infected it could shut a business down.

Another big unknown was what to do if a premises became a location of interest.

"That is our biggest concern at the moment, but at least we can operate," Mr Scully said.

Hunger Hub Cafe manager Ranjana Sunar said the cafe had been expecting an outbreak for a while and had made plans for when it happened.

She was not concerned about operating in the Red setting as the restrictions were similar to what staff had experienced before.

"We’ve done it before and we just have to do it again," Ms Sunar said.

Cafe Aroma owner Bilal Manna said it did not take much work to get his premises ready on Sunday evening.

He had taken out some tables to ensure the cafe could comply with the social distancing requirement.

Business had been a little quieter than usual yesterday, Mr Manna said.

"We are just happy to be open."


What support is available for businesses?

Covid-19 leave support scheme

What is it?

The scheme is for employers, including self-employed people, to help pay employees who need to self-isolate and cannot work from home.

Who can get it?

Employers can apply if they have a staff member who must self-isolate because they are sick with Covid-19 or have been identified as someone who has been in close contact with someone who has the virus.

What is the payment?

The leave support scheme is paid at a flat rate of $600 a week for full-time workers who were working 20 hours or more a week, and $359 a week for part-time workers (less than 20 hours).

How to apply and what happens afterwards?

Follow the steps on Work and Income’s website. Once approved, businesses will received an email advising the payment will be made.


Covid-19 business helpline

What is it?

The Covid-19 business helpline was set up in May 2020 to help steer firms to the government support and resources available and services in regional areas.

Who is running it?

The BusinessNZ network is covering the calls throughout New Zealand; the Employers and Manufacturers Association in Auckland is co-ordinating the effort for the North Island, and Business South is working with the Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce to cover calls from the South Island.

What is the number?

0800 50 50 96.

Information sourced from: Business South, Work and Income NZ


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