SkyCity shuts Auckland casino as NZ city re-enters lockdown

12 August 2020

Casino operator SkyCity Entertainment Group has said it will again temporarily close its casino property in Auckland, following the decision by New Zealand’s government to place the city in lockdown after recording several new local cases of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19).

Earlier this week, it was confirmed four people in Auckland had tested positive for Covid-19, in what were the first local cases of the virus in over 100 days.

In response, the NZ government moved Auckland to Alert Level 3 of its Covid-19 alert system and introduced a three-day lockdown in the city. The lockdown is in effect from today (12 August) and is due to expire at midnight on 14 August.

Alert Level 3 refers to the possibility that community transmission may be happening, as well as that new clusters may emerge but can be controlled through testing and contact tracing.

People must stay at and work from home if possible, while businesses can open their premises, but not physically interact with customers. Public venues are also instructed to close, while gatherings of only up to 10 people are permitted, with strict social distancing measures in place.

The government also increased the Covid-19 alert in other regions across New Zealand to Alert Level 2 in an effort to prevent any further spread of the virus.

Alert Level 2 puts aims to prepare for a potential spike in cases, in which household transmission of Covid-19, as well as single or isolated cluster outbreaks, could be occurring.

Here, businesses can open to the public if following public health guidance, but hospitality companies must keep groups of customers separated, seated and served by a single person. Event facilities – including casinos – can open, but must limit capacity to a maximum of 100 customers and also ensure patrons do not mix.

SkyCity said it will support the government with its efforts, announcing that its Auckland casino and entertainment facilities are now closed, while it will also implement enhanced physical distancing and hygiene measures at its sites in Hamilton and Queenstown.

The operator’s Auckland hotels will remain open to accommodate existing guests currently staying in-house, but physical distancing and hygiene requirements will also be implemented at the properties.

“SkyCity is fully complying with this latest update from the government; SkyCity is well prepared to respond quickly to these changes and is in a strong financial position to withstand the financial impacts of these temporary restrictions,” SkyCity chief executive Graeme Stephens said.

The SkyCity Auckland casino reopened to the public on 14 May, having been shut since 23 March asn the country went into lockdown. The venue returned to near-normal operations on 9 June after New Zealand downgraded its Covid-19 alert to its lowest level.

SkyCity noted that the closure of its Auckland casino and the re-implementation of measures at other New Zealand properties will not impact its facility in the Australian city of Adelaide.

The Adelaide property, which reopened in late June, will keep in place physical distancing and hygiene requirements, as required by the Australian government.