Trepidation as Covid-19 limits ease

Good first step . . . St James Theatre manager Paul McPhail is pleased people will no longer need a vaccine pass to see a movie, but indoor gathering restrictions mean live theatre is still off the cards. PHOTO: FILE

The loosening of Covid-19 restrictions has been welcomed by some Gore business leaders, but they say they are not out of the woods just yet.

Scanning with the Covid-19 tracer app is no longer required and indoor gathering limits have increased to 200 people.

Vaccine passes will no longer be required from next Monday.

St James Theatre manager Paul McPhail said the changes would make things easier.

“People can just come in and we can accept everybody as they are again the way it was before.

“Asking people for the passports, some people didn’t like it, some people forgot them at home and, of course, they couldn’t go to the movie.”

Doubling indoor capacity limits to 200 people was helpful, but it made little difference for the live theatre side of the business, he said.

“At the moment, the live theatre part of the market right through New Zealand is dead because it’s not worth people putting on shows for that number.

“That’ll change when they go down a level.”

The last few weeks had been especially tough, with Omicron forcing people to self-isolate, Mr McPhail said.

“A lot of people haven’t been going out and about.”

Green Room Cafe owner Catherine Borthwick also said things had been difficult and she was grateful to customers who had continued supporting the business.

“It has definitely been a lot quieter with the vaccine passes.”

However she was unsure whether it would be back to “business as usual”.

“I had a lot of really good customers that were unvaccinated. They haven’t been able to be here. Whether they’ll come back, I don’t know.

“It’d be good to see the old faces again.”

However she thought the changes may also deter some people from going out while Covid-19 cases were still on the rise in the community.

Mask requirements could also be putting people off, though she was pleased this was not changing.

“I have to keep my staff safe and my customers safe,” she said.

Mataura Licensing Trust general manager Mark Paterson said he was glad he could welcome everybody back to the trust’s venues.

“We were forced into segregating the community. Our community, they’re the shareholders of the trust.”

However there was still the challenge of staffing venues when employees were catching Covid-19.

“We run operations that have a lot of young wait staff and it seems to have affected the young people.”

Many of their venues were operating at reduced hours.

Even with the changes the Tussock Country Music Festival could not have gone ahead at the end of May.

Festival chairman Jeff Rea said cancelling the event was the right decision.

“It would’ve been a bigger gamble if we didn’t cancel.

“There’s too much involved to be able to pull it off.

“This way we live to fight another day, bigger and better next year.”