30 Sep 2021

No holiday visitors for Auckland leaves struggling businesses disappointed

7:43 pm on 30 September 2021

There will be no school holiday ski-trips or whānau visits for Aucklanders across the regional Covid-19 border, with the Prime Minister's confirmation that the city will remain shut-off from the rest of the country regardless of a drop in alert levels.

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Auckland CBD Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

Earlier today, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it was highly likely the boundary around the Auckland region will remain, even if restrictions are eased.

"We are giving full consideration to easing [alert level restrictions], but there's a number of way we can consider that. But what is not in consideration is removing that regional boundary at this time."

The hard border also means no one coming into the city for the school holiday, killing any hopes of increased foot traffic in the CBD, as Auckland counts down to the busy pre-Christmas season.

Auckland's Heart of the City chief executive Viv Beck told Checkpoint there will be a lot of disappointment around news the regional border is staying in place.

"Businesses across Auckland have been hit severely in terms of the extended lockdowns and certainly in city centre, we've got the perfect storm with people heading home and we don't see them until they're back so you know it's a very very severe situation for many."

Beck has asked government about financial support for Auckland businesses when the move to level 2 comes.

She has called for the wage subsidy to be extended for level 2 in Auckland, and the resurgence payment to be made weekly.

The city's move down to Level 3 has made very little difference in the CBD, it's still about 90 percent down in consumer spending, Beck said.

"I think there's a lot of uncertainty around what lies ahead, businesses are doing it tough in Auckland.

"We've gone from a $25 million loss (in level four) to sort of a $23-24m (loss in level three) so you know it's hardly anything, it's a drop in the bucket."

Beck said business that can't operate remotely are being hit again and again by the impact of Covid restrictions and the lack of school holiday traffic is just another blow.

"We normally have hundreds of thousands of people (during school holidays) so to have it locked down like this and then the prospect of uncertainty, people are dying to get going again."

She said although people will undoubtedly be disappointed they won't be able to leave Auckland, it does provide a great opportunity for Aucklanders to get out and support local businesses.

Further down the country, news that Aucklanders will not be able to visit Taupō in the school holidays has hit the town hard, mayor David Trewavas told Checkpoint.

"Very disappointed with today's decisions, but I guess people better qualified than me make these decisions."

The town's GDP is down about 40 percent, he said.

"There's some desperate situations out there, and people not saying too much, and I do worry about the welfare of some of these mums and dads [with] shops and businesses."

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