5 Oct 2021

Covid-19 roadmap: Business leaders want clarity on timing of level 3 easing

11:00 am on 5 October 2021

Auckland business leaders are calling for more clarity over the government unveils its three-phase plan to ease the region's Covid-19 lockdown.

Customers queiung for takeaways at Olafs Cafe. Mt Eden, on Auckland's first day of level 3 after five weeks of lockdown.

(File photo) Aucklanders getting takeaway coffee in the first days of alert level 3 in September. Photo: RNZ / Jean Bell

The first stage taking effect at midnight tonight allows up to 10 people from two households to meet up outdoors, and travel can take place anywhere in the Auckland region for exercise or outdoors activities.

No date is set for the next two stages in which more businesses and public facilities open up.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called the easing of restrictions a "careful and methodical transition plan" for Auckland, with vaccination playing a vital role.

RetailNZ chief executive Greg Harford wanted indicative dates and a clearer pathway.

"The roadmap really seems to take us on an ill-defined timeline back to level 2, but we really need to get back to level 1 ultimately."

Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Michael Barnett was another who wanted more detail.

"Either some set dates, or the conditions under which we'd move to the second or third phase.

"We can't just sit there hoping."

Early childhood centres will be allowed to open on Wednesday under level 3, with a limit of 10 in a bubble and strict infection control in place.

Early Childhood New Zealand Te Rito Maioha chief executive Kathy Wolfe said if families did not show up, centres should stay closed

"Not all early childhood services might get the demand, so the question was do we still have to open if there's no demand."

'I'd just like some clear dates'

On the streets of Mount Eden, one local woman was not impressed by the roadmap.

"I don't have any more clarity than I had earlier. I'd just like some clear dates on when this staggered plan will happen," she said.

Fellow resident Sue also did not feel well informed.

"All I heard was we could be in lockdown until Christmas - at least."

Another Mount Eden resident, John, thought letting people meet outdoors was a good idea in theory, but not in practice.

"Having barbecues outside or meeting ... that's going to go straight inside if it starts raining.

"If you haven't seen someone and they come down from Orewa to Papakura, they're not going home. I think it's going to be a complete free for all."

Mental health is a concern and a possible driver of government plans.

Jo, who lives on her own, was looking forward to seeing a friend or two again.

"I will be catching up with a few more people outside. It'll be nice be able to see more people for a coffee."

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said it was best to play it by ear and see whether the outbreak spread or was contained before making calls on when step two or three was put in place.

Following the rules and getting vaccinated were Aucklanders' best bet for getting out of lockdown sooner rather than later, he said.

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