Bars prepare to reopen for drinks at alert level 2

This weekend will be the first Kiwis will be able to go out for drinks since March - but bars and clubs may look a little different.

The businesses had to wait an extra week before reopening after the beginning of alert level 2 unless they served food primarily, in response to South Korea which saw more coronavirus cases break out as a result of reopening its nightclubs.

Jacinda Ardern has come under fire for the decision by Kiwi bar operators including Headquarter's Leo Molloy and Panhead's Matt McLaughlin but as of Thursday, the week is over and bars will be able to reopen.

Joshua Aburrowneman the area manager of New Zealand Venue Company which operates Dr Rudi's, Four Kings, Jack Hackett's, and Dirty Little Secret says they are excited to be operating again and have implemented the appropriate safety measures required under level 2.

"We welcome the re-opening of bars and are looking forward to having people back in our venues to safely enjoy a drink with those close to them," Aburrowneman says.

"Given the safe-socialising conditions that are in place, we expect this weekend to still mainly be about the full food and drink experience."

Under alert level 2 bars will have to abide by the hospitality guidelines which include limiting patrons in at a time to 100 people, and each group has to have no more than 10 people. 

Bars will be following the 'three S rules': served by a single waiter, seated and separated, and everyone will also be required to record their contact details upon entry in case contact tracing is required.

No dancing will be allowed, unless it is from a seat, and patrons won't be able to go up to the bar.

The Government also hasn't clarified the rules which smokers will have to follow.

Saint Alice manager Red Roborgh is asking patrons this weekend to "just do what you were doing before".

"Have fun, be social, be kind, obviously, but also be safe, and also just have some patience. This is unchartered territory for a lot of people, including us as a business, our team that work here and the customers as well."

Roborgh says they have implemented the Government's safety measures and are re-evaluating the business.

"We need to make sure we are running our business as safely [and] as compliantly as possible. We are just taking it day to day and seeing how it plays out," he told Newshub.

"The important thing to understand is we are all in this together, the other bars around here aren't competitors. We all benefit from people coming out and socialising with each other."

Jason Rosen, the founder of Auckland viaduct's The Parasol and Swing Company says they aren't sure what to expect from the weekend but planning for it to be busy.

The director of the Auckland viaduct cocktail bar Adam Neal says they have had plenty of bookings.

"The weather is looking pretty awesome this week as well so we're expecting a decent weekend. There is an air of excitement at the moment which is wonderful."

He says it would be great to see bars supported as other local businesses have been lately.

"The unfortunate reality is that with the sudden cut off of turnover and bills still coming in, a lot of bars and restaurants are going to struggle to bounce back from this. Supporting your local businesses is so important to ensure we can all weather this storm."

The bar has been trialling their security and safety systems for the past week while serving food but is excited to welcome Kiwis back to drink.

They have also implemented additional measures including security guards for crowd control on busy nights and laminated menus which can be easily cleaned.

The Police are also expected to be out and about over the weekend to ensure Kiwis keep to the rules of level 2. 

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