30 Oct 2021

Covid-19: Business groups urge PM to relax lockdown restrictions

12:56 pm on 30 October 2021

A group of central Auckland business associations have penned an open letter to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, asking for Covid-19 restrictions to be eased.

Downtown Auckland at the beginning of the Level 4 lockdown in August.

Downtown Auckland at the beginning of the Level 4 lockdown in August. Photo: RNZ / Nik Dirga

The city is currently at alert level 3, step 1.

Heart of the City and the Newmarket, Parnell, Ponsonby and Takapuna Business Associations say they can operate safely in Tāmaki Makaurau at alert level 3, step 3.

The Newmarket group's chief executive Mark Knoff-Thomas said losses will only get bigger if businesses cannot open up more before the lead-up to Christmas.

"Looking at Newmarket specifically we were 78 percent down in September, so we're losing $15 million to $16 million every week.

"We're coming into the time of year when things go crazy trade-wise and we really want to give our businesses the opportunity to recoup some of the money they've lost."

Knoff-Thomas said he is confident businesses can operate safely with social distancing, masking and scanning.

In their letter the associations acknowledged Ardern's announcement on 22 October, detailing the new traffic light system and the additional financial support being made available for businesses.

They noted that although the increase in support provided a lifeline, the situation was not sustainable and businesses needed to be trading.

The city has been in some form of lockdown for 77 days, they say, and businesses are suffering more than ever with numerous closures already.

"The prospect that many of our businesses will not be able to resume trade for at least a further month will have major implications on livelihoods, wellbeing and families," the associations said.

They say while many businesses can carry on currently, retail, hospitality, arts, events, entertainment, tourism and personal service sectors are being "unduly disadvantaged".

At step 3, cafes, bars and restaurants can open to up to 50 people at a time, as can event facilities, and hairdressers and beauty salons can see customers.

"We ask that you please take urgent action - to support our local economies and save our businesses.

"Government handouts are a lifeline, but all we really want to do is trade."

The associations said they were doing all they could to support the government's plans to ensure 90 percent of all eligible Aucklanders were vaccinated but in the meantime they were confident they could operate safely.

Yesterday the city recorded another 118 community cases of Covid-19.

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