Publish date: 12/05/2020

North Canterbury businesses are working to put new systems in place and manage staffing levels as they prepare for operation at Alert Level 2 come Thursday.

From midnight Wednesday, May 13th, most businesses in the Waimakariri and Hurunui Districts will be allowed to operate but will have to adhere to specific rules around physical distancing and contact tracing.

Local hospitality operators say that whilst the ability to invite customers into their premises is a welcome change, managing staff, stock levels and new protocols will prove challenging at first.

“Level 2 is a great opportunity for us in the hospitality business to actually show some hospitality service to our customers,” says Clare Giffard who operates Urban Revival in Silverstream and Flat White Café & Bar in Pegasus.

“Urban Revival is looking forward to being back and opening for dinner on Friday night. It will be great to be back creating cuisine for our customers and using fresh local produce, but we do face some challenging times ahead as we work to put in new systems for operation.”

Clare says managing staff will be tricky, firstly knowing how many staff they will need as they add dine-in to their existing takeaway operation, but also working around staff’s personal needs such as childcare.

Ron van Til, Managing Director of Rangiora Bakery, which operates a bakery, café and manufactures for export, concurs.

“Level 2 will allow customers to come inside again and will allow the opportunity for the community to connect with each other again which is what cafe environments are designed for.”

However, he says they face a similar guessing game with staff. “When we shut down we had 180 staff employed. During Level 3 we have about 30 staff mostly focussed on our Australian business which was still ticking over. Level 2 may see an additional 20 staff coming in but that will depend on the demand from our New Zealand wholesale customers.  

“We can trade again, but it will be a very slow start.”

Clare adds that local support will be the key to success as businesses start to reopen and navigate the new norm. “We are thrilled to be welcoming customers back into the premises and we really appreciate their support,” she says.