The New Zealand government has confirmed its intent to transition to a new COVID-19 alert system, allowing venues to operate under a trio of restriction tiers.
Auckland is expected to fall under the most severe, red setting, which means venues may only accept vaccinated individuals with specific capacity and social distancing restrictions in place.
SkyCity made the recent commitment that all staff and visitors to its New Zealand casinos and resorts would have to be fully vaccinated to gain entry, irrespective of the alert setting. The company’s SkyCity Auckland venue is expected to reopen from December 3 with its casino, entertainment and accommodation facilities all being open to the public.
“The SkyCity Auckland property will reopen in a staged manner with health and safety measures in place to reflect the Ministry of Health’s latest recommendations and guidelines,” the operator explained in an official statement.
SkyCity Auckland had previously closed doors on August 17 following a COVID-19 Delta variant outbreak in what is New Zealand’s most populated city.
The reopening is not the only significant event that the company has recently announced. The name of the person who will fill the seat of outgoing SkyCity chairman Rob Campbell has been revealed.
Julian Cook is the new appointee to the SkyCity chair role, leaving the former director to assume the job of group chairman from January 1 2022. The company expressed that it is committed to ensuring that the coming weeks are an “orderly transition and handover period.”
In an October announcement, Campbell advised that he was standing down at the end of the year to turn his attention to other work commitments.
“We have made significant progress over the past year to refresh the SkyCity board and I am delighted that Julian has been selected by the SkyCity board to lead SkyCity and the new chair from January 1,” he said.
Cook has a diverse background, previously serving as the chief executive officer of retirement village operator Summerset Group Holdings from 2014 to 2021 and while also assuming the role of a director at Macquarie Group from 2010.
Michael Ahearne, the chief executive of Skycity advised the company’s annual meeting that the new traffic light system would enable it to reopen its major casinos and hotels.
“Accordingly, our intention is that all SkyCity properties in New Zealand will operate as vaccination-only venues when the new framework comes into effect – a decision that has been made with the health and safety of our staff and customers in mind. The vaccine mandate would apply to all its 2900 employees, as well as customers, contractors and visitors to any of its New Zealand venues.
“As one of the biggest entertainment venues in New Zealand, and a significant employer in New Zealand, we need to take measures to help keep Kiwis safe,” he said.
Ahearne emphasised the negative impact that the current lockdowns were having on the company, costing it around $1 million a day in lost revenue, rendering the determination of a full-year earnings forecast impossible.
“Trading over the course of the first half of the financial year has been materially impacted by the COVID-19 restrictions, in particular, the ongoing lockdown in the Auckland region and, consequently, the company’s first-half earnings are expected to be impacted from the difficult trading conditions,” he concluded.