New Zealand-based casino operator SkyCity Entertainment Group is to return to normal operations at most of its casinos in the country after the country's government downgraded its novel coronavirus (Covid-19) alert to its lowest level.
Prime Minister Jacinda Arden yesterday (8 June) revealed there were no known active cases of Covid-19 in the country, with the last person that tested positive having now recovered.
As such, the government downgraded the Covid-19 alert to level one. This lifts most restrictions on social distancing and mass gatherings, though strict border controls will remain in place for the time being. New Zealand nationals and their families can enter the country, but must then go into quarantine for 14 days.
Downgrade means that SkyCity can now return to normal operations across its casinos, except the Wharf in Queenstown which remains closed.
“We are extremely excited to be welcoming all SkyCity customers back to our precincts,” SkyCity chief executive Graeme Stephens said. “It will be fantastic to be busy again and able to have the public enjoy the many different facets of our properties.”
“SkyCity remains committed to maintaining robust health and safety standards to manage the risks associated with Covid-19 and will be encouraging customers to maintain contact tracing via the Government’s NZ Covid-19 Tracer app.”
SkyCity’s properties in Auckland, Hamilton and Queenstown – excluding the Wharf Casino – reopened to customers on 14 May, having been closed since 23 March. Since then, only members of the operator's Premier Rewards loyalty programme have been allowed into the properties.
Last week, SkyCity said that trading since the reopening of its casinos had been “encouraging” but also warned layoffs would be necessary as the business restructures to focus on servicing a domestic customer base, with reduced international tourism.
SkyCity is in the process of developing a funding plan to sustain the business in the medium term, with plans to continue to monitor trading performance as this plan was developed over the coming weeks.
The relaxing of restrictions could also benefit New Zealand's racing industry, which has suffered badly from disruption caused by Covid-19.
While harness and greyhound racing resumed in May, with thoroughbred racing to follow on 3 July, TAB NZ, the betting division of governing body the Racing Industry Transition Agency (RITA) saw activity plummet. RITA noted that monthly revenue had fallen almost 50% below original forecasts in May, with customer numbers dropping 35%.
This in turn saw it lay off 30% of TAB staff, some 230 permanent and part-time positions, and close four betting shops.