the latest Level 4 lockdown extended in Auckland Hospitality and retail leaders say it could be a “fatal blow” for some businesses.
On Monday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that the city would remain on Alert Level 4 for another week, with a decision in principle to go to Alert Level 3 next Tuesday, September 21 at 11.59pm.
Greg Harford, chief executive of Retail New Zealand, said the expansion to Level 4 would be “disastrous news” for Auckland businesses trying to avoid a Delta outbreak and could be a “fatal blow” for some.
* Cove 19: Business breathes a sigh of relief at the change in alert level but Auckland waits.
* Disappointed with the Southland Chamber of Commerce lockdown not being explained
* Covid 19: The ‘maximum possible price’ to be reimbursed by the hospitality sector.
“While the government has provided some assistance through the payment of wage subsidies and rehabilitation assistance, the reality is that this assistance is limited and will not be enough to stop businesses going to the wall.”
Harford said it was more important for the government than ever to cover the costs of running a business, including rents, and to provide additional support to meet the benefits as well as wages.
“It is also important that the government enables businesses to do business where they can do so safely. This includes retailers and manufacturers that are important to businesses and consumers in Level 2 parts of the country.
“There are major problems in the supply chain and there is a shortage of goods in some stores that are unable to produce under Level 4 restrictions.”
Hospitality New Zealand chief executive Julie White said Monday’s announcement made the sector “even more necessary” to offer targeted payments.
“We know the lockdown needs to be extended as long as there are mysterious issues in the community – we got it and we support it.
“But each day the hospitality and accommodation businesses are unable to trade, bringing more pain and more chances of liquidation.”
Even if Auckland moved to Level 3 next week, the change would have little effect because the difference between Level 3 and 4 was “small”.
“Cafes, bars, restaurants and other places will be limited, food stores are only allowed to pick up or deliver without contact, and for many people it is not open.
“Housing businesses will be open but no one will be allowed to travel, so it won’t make much difference.”
He said that although the extension of maintenance payments is welcome, it was nowhere near enough as most of the hospitality and accommodation businesses saw a loss of 30 to 100 per cent at Alert Level 2 to 4.
There was a slight bounce back under the current “Level 2.5” restrictions, with cancellations for pre-Christmas events.
“Most of our members will trade at a loss, despite last week’s wage subsidy and resumption of pay extensions.
“It’s going to get worse before our businesses get better, unless we get targeted support.”