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Christchurch gay business may re-start elsewhere

in NEW ZEALAND, 19/03/2011

The operators of Christchurch's gay venues have still not been able to return to their business premises despite a loosening of restrictions on entry into the earthquake devastated CBD, but at least one is looking for temporary premises in which to continue operating.

“Our building, along with that of Cruz and The Box, are located in what is called the 'No Go Zone,'” says Stuart Yeatman of Menfriends. “Any access at all is prohibited due to the nearby damaged eighteen story Grand Chancellor Hotel building that could fall before it is dismantled piece by piece or brought down by a controlled explosion.”

There is as yet no accurate information about when the situation can be stabilised enough for business owners to return to the Lichfield, High and Manchester Streets area. “It could be six months for example. So none of us have been able to get anywhere near our buildings,” says Yeatman.

Yeatman says the Menfriends staff “are all housed and being paid from the EQ wage subsidy at this stage, awaiting word as to the future like everyone else. They have the same issues to deal with that we do: 'Where to from here?'” Yeatman and his partner John McKelvie have arranged a staff meeting next week to discuss these issues. “In the meantime John and I are currently looking for suitable buildings, or land to construct a new venue. We are committed to re-starting the business.”

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