Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Businesses prepare for reopening as alert shift looms

Businesses around the country, except for Auckland and Northland, are gearing up to partially open to the public once again on Wednesday.

From 11.59pm on Tuesday, most of New Zealand will shift from alert level 4 to alert level 3, which means slightly looser rules around what people can and can’t purchase.

Cafes, restaurants and takeaways can open at alert level 3, but only for contactless pick-up, delivery or drive through.

Shops, such as hardware stores, can open for contactless pickup and delivery but customers cannot be on the premises — unless it is a supermarket, dairy, butcher, fishmonger, greengrocer, petrol station, pharmacy or permitted health service.

Food delivery services, such as GIMME and Uber Eats, can also operate at alert level 3.

The Riverside Market in Christchurch is gearing up for the alert level shift, developer Mike Percasky told the Herald they have been busy preparing today.

“We are doing a bit of a clean, putting up the signage and making sure we are ticking all the boxes for the opening tomorrow.”

He said level 3 is still a difficult situation for restaurants to be in and predicts their trade is about 20 per cent of what it would normally be.

“They’re lucky to break even in level 3. I think we absolutely should be going lower. This particular variant has an incubation period of about four days so it’s very obvious it’s not in the south island.

“I’ve got no clue why we aren’t dropping down to level 2,” he said.

Tuck, which stands for Tuam Street Cloud Kitchen, is a complex in the Christchurch CBD that houses kitchens for businesses to use to help with home delivery services or extra prep space.

It was all go on Tuesday making sure restaurants are ready to go.

McDonald’s restaurants will not be opening as soon as the alert level shifts at midnight but throughout Wednesday. Times will vary depending on gaining access and deliveries.

A restricted menu will be in place initially.

85 restaurants will be reopening under the restrictions. They will provide Drive-Thru and, where available, McDelivery.

“From the moment our restaurants closed under alert level 4, we began planning for their reopening. It’s a huge logistical task, and our franchisees and supply chain partners have plans in place to ensure restaurants are cleaned, re-stocked and ready to operate safely for customers and staff,” the spokesperson said.

“We thank customers in advance for their patience as we reopen and then operate under the alert level 3 conditions.”

A spokesperson for Uber said they are gearing up to be ready to go for the shift to level 3.

“In level three, Kiwis will be able to receive Uber Eats deliveries at home with the added protection of contactless delivery. Our contactless delivery feature removes the need for human to human contact, enabling New Zealanders to get the food they want while
staying home.”

As an essential service, Uber Rides is available in both level three and level four. If drivers feel uncomfortable picking up a passenger for safety reasons, they can choose not to accept or cancel the trip.

In November 2020, a New Zealand Institute of Economic Research report commissioned by Uber found that Uber Eats increases the size of the New Zealand economy by $162 million per year –3.4 per cent of annual GDP in the restaurant sector.

At Mitre 10, a wider product range will be available for online order for regions at alert level 3 only.

Customers will be able to choose between contactless click & collect, with managed time slots for pick up, and delivery.

Trade customers may be permitted managed access to trade drive-thru areas along with contactless Click & Collect or delivery to the site.

“With stores remaining closed to the public, the fulfilment of online orders for contactless delivery and Click & Collect has been carefully planned, with the health, safety and wellbeing of team members and customers top of mind,” a Mitre 10 New Zealand Ltd spokesperson said.

“Stores will operate with strict health and safety measures in place that comply with government requirements, including contact tracing capabilities, mandatory mask use, physical distancing and hygiene protocols, to help keep team members and customers safe.”

Butcheries are also preparing for the reopening, Christchurch-based Peter Timbs Meats says it will be using a click and collect type ordering system as well as over-the-counter contactless payment with a limited number of customers in-store at a time.

“We of course have strict hygiene standards that we can replicate for customers, such as hand sanitiser and bench sanitiser as required, while also using the serve-over shield between customers that we had prepared last year at level 3,” a spokesperson said.

Only the store in Edgeware will be open, the Bishopdale store will remain closed.

The company’s online delivery system will continue to operate.

“Being a community-based store, most customers are on a first-name basis. We are very keen to get back to serving the community and great Christchurch region, as well as helping our suppliers be another avenue for sale, which then helps our farmers shift their livestock, and the flow-on effect continues.”

In Nelson, Burger Culture co-owner Zoe Williams was happy to be reopening even with the stricter rules.

“Face masks to be worn at all times, always wearing gloves and if they touch anything that someone else might have touched or touched their face, then those gloves have to go and a new pair go on or wash their hands,” Williams said.

“We kind of have a policy where you have to wash your hands or change your gloves every 15 – 20 minutes or 20 – 30 minutes.”

It also meant physical distancing, which she said was no easy task in a small kitchen but they would have staff bubbles in place too.

In Invercargill, The Batch co-owner Kate French was completely redoing her rosters.

“We will be trading reduced hours so 7am-1pm. Our level 3 trade, we will trade with coffee and baked goods only so that’s quite a reduction in our offering and it’s a matter of juggling around the staff to give the staff a fair load of hours.”

Customers would have to wait a bit longer for the full menu to resume.

“The reduced offering we did last time with the baked goods and a couple of cabinet options worked last time for what our customers wanted. But we’ll just have to adapt as we go.

“We’re trying to sell food in a text format through our app as opposed to a visual point-of-sale and that’s where we found those baked goods worked really well last time as opposed to an amazing dish that they can’t see and only has a text description.”

– Additional reporting RNZ

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