Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Auckland's Midnight Gardener restaurant to offer outdoor space for private picnics

By Miriam Burrell

An Auckland restaurant is offering up its outdoor garden space to be booked out as a private picnic venue from tomorrow - but it comes at a cost and patrons will have to bring their own food.

Aucklanders from one bubble only, with a maximum of 10 people, can rent the space at Midnight Gardener on Ponsonby Rd for $100 for a two-hour session.

The cost will cover the use of the outdoor garden space among "the trees, shrubs, and pot plants" and the use of bathroom facilities, but it does not include any food or beverages or service.

Customers will have to bring their own food and drinks, including alcohol options, or have food delivered to the venue. They can make themselves at home by bringing along speakers to play music from, suggested owner Luke Dallow.

Dallow will open up the venue and let guests in, but then he will leave them to it, only returning to clean facilities ahead of the next booking.

Groups of up to 10 people from one bubble will be allowed to book the space for two hours. Photo / Supplied

"Humans are social animals ... we need to be out socialising – even if that's just socialising in one bubble," he said.

"A lot of people living in apartments in the city feel that they're still technically being locked down in their own homes, so they'll be coming in for a picnic.

"The guy or lady wanting to take their partner out for a dinner on a romantic date, they'll be coming in for a picnic. The flatmates just wanting to get out for lunch, they'll be coming in for a picnic.

"The young family with mom and dad working from home and their pre-school kids running around the place, they'll be coming in for a picnic."

Dallow told the Herald it's "not about the money" but about giving something back to the community.

He said even with level 3 restrictions allowing for contactless takeaway meal pick-ups only, the Midnight Gardener business has "barely broken even".

Midnight Gardener will be opening its picnic option between noon and 11pm every day until Auckland moves into alert level 2.

Dallow said he ran it by his liquor licensing lawyer. The all Government Covid-19 Response Group has been approached for comment.

Auckland is moving into a new phase of alert level 3 from midnight tonight.

It allows a group of up to 10 people, from a maximum of two households, to gather outside only.

It is unclear how long Auckland will remain under the new restrictions but the Government said it would review them weekly.

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