The tourism industry in New Zealand was crushed again as new regulations on travel restrictions for foreigners were set and the borders of the country will be closed for a longer period than expected. This is a massive hit for the casinos in the country as they cannot rely on gamblers coming from other countries until 2022. But during the lockdown at the end of 2020, statistics showed that New Zealanders actually spent a lot of money on pokies.
New Zealand’s Average Cases Per Day Has Spiked
When the pandemic hit the world, New Zealand was one of the countries that had a firm grip on the crisis. The country dealt with it in a pretty spectacular way and that is why it was able to operate under normal conditions. However, all of that changed at the end of 2020 and 2021.
Data from Johns Hopkins’ Center for Systems Science and Engineering shows that the average number of new cases as of Wednesday was around 191. In the middle of August, the daily average was just three.
Health authorities are concerned with the prolonged issues and the rise in COVID-19 cases. For a better part of the year, New Zealand’s borders have remained closed and, at the start of 2020, residents who are abroad will be able to return, but foreign visitors will have to wait a bit longer.
As Chris Hipkins, the COVID-19 Response Minister, states, foreigners who are looking to visit New Zealand will have to enter quarantine and these rules will be enforced until the end of April. The country’s casinos, especially SkyCity Entertainment Group, will have a serious negative impact. SkyCity’s business revolves around international gamblers.
Hipkins stated that closing the borders was one of the first steps that had to be taken in order to protect the country from the pandemic. As the transition to the traffic light protection framework system is made and the Auckland boundary is lifted, the borders will be the last thing that is opened.
New Zealand’s new health measures suggest that residents who are traveling from Australia to New Zealand from January 16 at 11:59 PM won’t have to go to quarantine if they are fully vaccinated. However, vaccinated travelers will still have to go into quarantine until April 30.
Hipkins pointed out that this announcement was made yesterday so that businesses, visitors, families, as well as airport and airline companies will have the time and needs to prepare. He ended by saying that New Zealand as a country is in a position to move towards a normal state.
SkyCity Can Suffer Major Losses With the New Health Measures
As Intelligent Investor reports, SkyCity relies a lot on foreign gamblers to feed its casinos in Queenstown and Auckland, reportedly the main source of a recent COVID-19 outbreak. A majority of SkyCity’s traffic comes from China, as the VIP activity from this country has risen from $12.34 million (NZ$18 million) to $84.31 million (NZ$123 million). These numbers suggest that Chinese players are responsible for 40% of the company’s growth.
But after the pandemic hit, SkyCity’s numbers have plummeted, which was bad news because the company was reinvigorating its properties and was spending a lot of money. Moreover, it faces additional challenges as it wants to appease regulators.
SkyCity announced earlier this year that it won’t work with junkets anymore, which is a response to the massive fallout in Australia caused by Crown Resorts. Crown also announced that it will stop working with junkets.
The company hopes that it can find some type of relief as soon as possible. Its Auckland casino will open its doors on December 3, but only if there aren’t any additional setbacks. As it welcomes patrons back, the casino will adhere to the new traffic light system for COVID-19 imposed by authorities.
This traffic light system is known as COVID-19 Protection Framework and it is more flexible than the Alert Level system of New Zealand. As officials are overseeing the situation across the country, they will assign green, orange, or red colors, depending on the threat level caused by COVID-19.
Individuals will have to wear masks indoors and schools, stores, as well as certain community events will be able to operate. Orange means that capacities at public venues will be limited and stricter rules on face masks will be present. Red will increase the limit on capacity even more as impose stringent requirements on face masks.