Wellington businesses looking to recoup losses now protest over

Vandhna Bhan
Source: 1News

Businesses have been suffering for weeks now with the protest action in Wellington CBD, and now it's over they’re desperately wanting their livelihoods back.

Alan Roberts from Wellington’s well-known tapas bar, Avida, said revenue was down 60 per cent over the last three weeks due to the protesters.

“It’s going to be a hard choice of words but we’re bleeding to death,” said Roberts as he stood in his near empty restaurant around lunchtime. Usually on a Friday the place would be packed at the time.

“On Wednesday when the whole riot was happening we had to shut down at seven o' clock. We had bookings, we had people dining, we had people drinking and we had to say sorry guys we have to kick you out.”

He says he closed the restaurant early for the safety of his staff and his customers. He was worried the riots would escalate onto other nearby streets and their restaurant could’ve been attacked like how other buildings were on the day.

Another hospitality business 1News spoke to said they’ve been shut since the beginning of the protest for nearly four weeks now.

“It’s been horrible, it’s been distressing” says Liz Means of Home Cafe which is located on Molesworth Street right in the heart of where the protesters set up camp.

Turning her closed sign into an open sign is something she’s looking forward to come Monday.

“I’m kind of still in a bit like ‘uh really? is it happening?' but I think it'll be fantastic, and I know all our staff can’t wait to get back to work,” she says.

On the streets Friday the clean-up continued, with the chalk all washed away on the Parliament steps now normality seems to be returning to the capital.

Police are removing the nearly 70 concrete bollards that were put in place and access will be restored to the bus depot, Hill and Aitkin streets, but lower Molesworth Street will remain cordoned off.

While there are concerns some protesters may return this weekend, others have told 1News they’re ready to go home.

One protester camping at Mahanga Bay, who didn’t want to be identified, said, “we're trying to go home but we can't instantly get home, some of us have got ferries to catch. It’s sort of like being displaced instantly. We’ve just been splinters, so everyone’s just drifted on the wind to wherever they are. I don’t know what they’re plans are, we were just going to go home.”

She’s disappointed Jacinda Ardern didn’t communicate with them and say there’s now no point in protesting in their hometowns as the Prime Minister’s already said mandates will end soon.

But in the anticipation that some protesters may reconvene outside parliament police have said Wellingtonians can expect a highly visible police presence in the central city over the weekend.