'Time will tell' if hospitality industry can operate post-COVID-19, says sector expert

Auckland's lockdown has sent shockwaves through New Zealand's economy - and one of the sectors reeling the hardest is hospitality.

Hospitality New Zealand chief executive Julie White says she's not sure if the industry will recover from the blows dealt to it by two lockdowns due to COVID-19.

"Time will tell if the hospitality sector is able to reopen as it was prior to the second round of this lockdown,"she told Newshub on Tuesday.

Auckland is currently at COVID-19 alert level 3 due to an outbreak of the virus in the community - cafes and restaurants can open but only for takeaways and contactless delivery. The rest of New Zealand is at alert level 2.

White says the extension of the wage subsidy will not be the industry's saving grace and more support is needed.

"The Government missed the mark because not everyone is affected equally - hospitality was affected harder and earlier," she said.

"We really think the Government needs to give targeted support moving forward and hospitality is one of those targeted industries."

The extension, announced by Finance Minister Grant Robertson on Monday. provides two weeks of additional support at the same rate as the other wage subsidies, which paid out $585.80 for full-time workers and $350 for part-time workers. 

It's expected to cover 470,000 jobs.

But White says the subsidy doesn't target the issue - businesses need a cash injection.

"A sector specific package looks like a hardship grant, for people in Auckland who cannot open their doors they need a hard cash injection."

She says this hypothetical cash would quickly be recirculated into the economy, as that's one of the things the hospitality sector is best at.

"[Hospitality] circulates money really quickly, it keeps people employed and it gives a sense of wellness. It keeps people in jobs and it keeps communities together."

In the meantime though, White has a plea for people wanting to support local businesses.

"Use the contact tracer app, because that is what will allow us to shut down community outbreaks so we just ask everyone keeps themselves safe."