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Wgtn's gay sauna remaining closed until March

Tue 13 Dec 2016 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback

Wellington’s Checkmate gay sauna will remain closed until March due to major earthquake damage to the adjacent Reading Cinemas car parking building. In the immediate aftermath of the November 14th earthquakes tenants of the Tory Street building where the sauna and several other businesses are located were told they would be able to return within two to four weeks. But this has now been revised to two to three months, according to Joe George, Checkmate’s owner. Staff briefly returned to work on November 22nd after being given the all-clear, but, after further inspection of the car park by civil engineers, were told to vacate the premises three days later. Initially the damage to the car park was thought to be related to the scaffolding, but re-inspection revealed massive irreversible damage to the building itself which is now slated to be demolished in the coming months. No fixed date has been given as to when their own building will be allowed to reopen but George has commented that it is “looking to be early March at this point”. He says management and staff are coping as well as they can given the circumstances, with staff currently on paid leave. He is hoping the Government will help subsidise staff wages, putting less pressure on the establishment and its employees. George says the worst part about Checkmate’s closure is the impact it will have on patrons. For many, he says, the sauna is an important space to connect with and meet other gay men. Although there are no fixed plans for the re-opening, but he says he will keep patrons updated.    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Tuesday, 13th December 2016 - 10:47pm

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