Virginia Woolf/Nelson Mail
Eateries in Nelson’s CBD are taking another hit to the pocket after the cancellation of one of Nelson’s biggest events, the Arts Festival.
Hospitality has taken another kick to the guts as one of Nelson’s biggest annual events has had to cancel due to Covid restrictions.
It’s been a tough couple of years for cafes and restaurants and the cancellation of the Nelson Arts Festival is just another straw piling on the camel’s back.
Nelson Hospitality Association president Ian Williams said the events that had to go “in the face of uncertainty, they have a profound effect on us”.
It was announced on Thursday the popular Nelson Arts Festival had to cancel the majority of its events, including the Mask Carnivale, most of its Pukapuka Talks literary programme and other events for the second year in a row.
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The Mask Carnivale brings thousands of people into central Nelson for the mask parade and entertainment.
Williams said the hospitality industry was pinning its hopes on the influx of crowds from the events.
“We rely on all those kind of events, particularly in the central city. We rely on that for starting to bring people into town in the summer.”
At alert level 2, bars and restaurants can open but there are restrictions including the fact there must be less than 100 people at the venue, and customers must be seated and physically separated one metre from other customers.
Eateries were just scraping by, Williams said as customer numbers continued to flail.
“We’re doing our best with what we’ve got, but it’s not going to pay the bills.”
What was needed was some reassurance of when things might change, he said.
“I know the virus is uncertain, but with that we need a realistic plan of what’s going to happen.”
A number of events have had to be cancelled due to Covid restrictions, including Mako rugby games, street markets and the Classic Car Street Hop.
Uniquely Nelson manager Simon Duffy said the organisation helped with the marketing and promotions for the Arts Festival as well as contributing financial support.
He said cancellations of events had a “knock on effect”, especially in hospitality but the cancellation of the bulk of the programme was a necessary evil.
“I feel for them, and anybody in events, because you’ve got to get to the point of no return; these are the decisions we have to make now.”