7 May 2020

Employees may need convincing to use public transport - Business NZ

2:32 pm on 7 May 2020

Workers' confidence in using public transport again shapes as one of the biggest challenges for businesses in the move to alert level 2, says Business NZ chief executive Kirk Hope.

Business NZ chief executive Kirk Hope.

Kirk Hope wants a swift move to alert level 2. Photo: RNZ / Supplied

He told Afternoons with Jesse Mulligan that he was pleased with the level of detail Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern provided at her briefing this afternoon.

He said she gave businesses clear ideas on how to open and operate in alert level 2 and that "it won't be a free for all," there will be some restrictions.

He has asked his team how comfortable they will be returning to the office, how happy they will be to use public transport and would their preference be to continue working from home.

Businesses would face a lot of similar questions.

"What do you do for example if you're in an office building ...there's lifts, there's a whole lot of people going into the building. What are the businesses in the building or the building managers doing to manage social distancing in an environment when you will have a lot of people possibly in spaces all at once?"

He said the use of public transport to get to and from work would be a particular issue that managers would have to grapple with.

The critical decision was when the move to alert level 2 would be made, Hope said.

He said if the country doesn't move next week, will it because we don't have the gold standard contact tracing and "I think that will be unfortunate".

"I know Rob Ffye and his team have been working really hard to ensure we have an appropriate contact tracing process for New Zealanders so that we can manage it and so that businesses can operate in a freer fashion but do it safely.

"That's really probably the biggest priority I think for getting everyone up and running in a safe way."

Many businesses were hurting with costs to meet but no revenue for six or seven weeks, Hope said.

It would be interesting to find out more on how some businesses who have been able to operate have adapted under alert level 3 which in many cases had been impressive.

"Our feedback from WorkSafe .... their observation is that most businesses are meeting their rules and obligations and it's a real credit to the businesses.

"They've had to adapt to what are pretty unique circumstances."

*See all RNZ coverage of Covid-19

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs