Nelson City Council leads call for alcohol licensing relief06/04/2020 8:16am
Nelson City Council is calling for the Ministry of Justice to enable the Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority (ARLA) and councils to waive alcohol licensing fees in light of the COVID-19 shutdown.
The alcohol licensing fees paid by the hospitality sector are set by the Ministry of Justice, which administrates ARLA.
In a letter to the Ministry of Justice, Nelson Mayor Rachel Reese requests that alcohol licencing fees are waived while the country is at COVID-19 Alert Levels three and four to assist hospitality businesses with their recovery.
“Fees like these can make the difference between surviving this period or shutting down.
“As a council we want to do everything in our power to help the hospitality industry because it is so key to Nelson’s economy, but our hands are tied by legislation.
“I am not comfortable with Council being a collection agency for fees that deliver no community value while businesses are unable to operate.
“A gesture like this may seem small but every bit of assistance from the Government is needed to help support the hospitality sector, not just in Nelson but in the whole of the country,” she says.
There are currently 169 licenced premises in Nelson. Council is aware of at least 50 licenses and certificates that are due for renewal this month.
Annual fees range from $140 to $1250 per licence depending on the risk rating of the business. Licence application fees (paid three-yearly for established compliant businesses and annually for new businesses) range from $320 to $1050.
They represent a significant ongoing cost for hospitality businesses at a time when they are unable to operate, due to the Government-directed shutdown.
Nelson City Council’s support for alcohol licensing relief is part of its wider business support package, announced earlier this month.
Tourism and hospitality tenants of NCC have been offered a three-month rent holiday, benefiting more than 200 business and community organisations in the city.
Hospitality businesses will also be given a three month holiday from their Outdoor Dining Licenses.
Mayor Reese says one of Council’s key priorities is a thriving city centre, and many of the impacted businesses play a huge role in the cultural life of our city.
“We will be proactive in our efforts to get Nelson back on track,” she says.
The Chief Executive of Hospitality New Zealand, Julie White, says that businesses with Alcohol Licences have already been significantly affected by the COVID-19 restrictions.
“Many of these businesses cannot operate during levels three and four, and only operate at a severely reduced capacity during level 2.
“The hospitality industry is at the heart of many local economies, providing social and economic wellbeing.
“If these businesses can’t survive the shutdown, hundreds of thousands of people will be out of work, and the impact will be long term and severe,” she says.