Covid-19 Delta outbreak: Business groups welcome Level 3 in Auckland

Business leaders are welcoming news that Auckland will drop down an alert level midnight Tuesday, although firms want to see more flexibility and continued financial support.

“It will be a long and hard road back to economic health but at last thousands of Auckland businesses locked down can reopen and reduce the burden and stress of trying to retain jobs, pay staff and bills and look after the wellbeing of family – and the community,” says Auckland Business Chamber CEO, Michael Barnett.

“Patience was low, pain high with the prolonged economic, social and personal damage from lockdown,” he said. “Now we want to see a flexible level 3 to enable as many businesses to ramp up productivity and operations as quickly as possible to crank up the country’s supply chains and economy.”

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today Auckland will move down to Level 3 at midnight Tuesday.

At Alert Level 3, movement is still restricted but food takeaways and deliveries would be allowed, as would the resumption of construction work. Contactless deliveries and pick-ups can occur.

Early learning centres can open to provide childcare for tamariki (children) whose parents need to go into work.

The hospitality sector has been seeking extra support including wage subsidy access in Level 2, further targeted financial support and a plea to shift quarantine facilities out of the densely populated central business district in Auckland.

The Restaurant Association says a move down to alert level 3 on Wednesday offers a small glimmer of hope for the industry.

“However hospitality-specific financial relief is now long overdue,” said chief executive Marisa Bidois

“It’s a relief to see Auckland coming down to alert level 3 this week and we know many will be keen to get back into their businesses again and reconnect with customers.

“However, whilst some businesses can start trading again, the takeaway is not viable for all businesses. For those that are able to adapt to takeaway, their takings are typically 40-60 per cent down on normal revenue.

“What we’d now like to see is our businesses being able to get back to work as we move down the alert levels but also the right financial support offered to those that most need it.”

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in other parts of the country under level 2 restrictions the Hospitality industry would be able to have gatherings 100 people up from 50.

Hospitality New Zealand chief executive Julie White said: “the good news is that there was some movement, but Level 3 is still highly restrictive for our industry, with the majority of its members telling that they won’t open.

“But allowing 100 people in was positive news,” white said.

“And the reality is that this is going to be 48 days of zero revenue,” White said.

Barnett said a snap survey of businesses taken this morning showed that while 80 per cent of businesses can get back to work under Level 3 conditions, respondents said that 50% would be operating only at half speed – 10 per cent said they would operate at 100 per cent and a further 5% would be operating at 75 per cent.

“Our message is if you can go back work, please do so, and if there are issues that are roadblocks to recovery, tell us and we’ll talk to government. It’s time to ditch the doldrums and shoot for the future.”

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