Catherine Vosper, Casita Miro. Photo supplied

The move to the red level of the traffic light system in response to Omicron means many island eateries are facing a greater degree of instability and stress, says Waiheke Restaurant Association chairperson Catherine Vosper.

Waiheke restaurants and cafes faced significant staff shortages this summer, and Vosper, the managing director at Onetangi vineyard and restaurant Casita Miro, says businesses will likely need to close for several weeks or more due to the Omicron spread.

“In an industry already short-staffed, with reduced opening hours and dramatically lowered turnovers, the projected Omicron spread will really scythe its way through us.”

Vosper says several customers called to cancel bookings following last week’s announcement regarding the shift to red.

“Some are concerned that Waiheke will be off-limits again, and our corporate clients are unwilling to put their people on ferries and public transport. Many have policies in place that limit their employees’ exposure at red.

“Events with numbers greater than 100 are cancelling and this has a negative rippling effect on all those businesses on the island that support bigger events, such as weddings and corporates, accommodation, florists, hire, transport, cake makers, performers and the like.”

Vosper’s sentiments are echoed throughout the embattled hospitality sector, which has been greatly affected since the advent of Covid-19 in Aotearoa.

The Restaurant Association of New Zealand CEO Marisa Bidois says financial support will become increasingly important in the customer-facing industry if Omicron spreads within a workplace, forcing closure. • Sophie Boladeras

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