Saturday, November 27

Covid-19: Auckland Mayor Calls for Shift to Level 3 This Week

The Mayor of Auckland wants the region to drop to Alert Level 3 this week and says the cost of staying at Level 4 is too high.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff speaks to the media following the cabinet's extension of the Alert Level 3 lockdown.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff says enough is enough and Level 4 must end.
Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

The region will know today if the government will lower them to alert level 3 this week. Experts seem to agree that they do not know which path the government’s decision will take.

What is known, however, is that the lockdown to date, the longest in New Zealand since the pandemic began, has come at a tremendous cost to the 1.6 million team at Tāmaki Makaurau.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said Morning report it’s time to move on to level 3.

“The psychological pressures of the long level 4 lockdown are increasing, and the financial pressures on businesses and jobs. Families are separated, there are people who have no income … there are many people who are on the edge right now.

“I always listen to epidemiologists … but they look at it through a lens … there are other implications of staying at level 4. With nearly 80 percent of Auckland residents … having at least one vaccine. .. given that alert level 3 is still very restrictive and capable of limiting the spread, it is time to back off. “

Goff said Auckland residents were finding this lock much more difficult than the level 4 lock last year.

“The problem is that there is a certain degree of uncertainty about when the job will be finished, and I don’t think anyone thinks that it can stay at level 4 indefinitely. Level 3 still has the restrictions in place that can prevent the spread of the disease.

“Yes, there is a certain degree of risk, but there is also the risk that the real pressure on people and the loss of social license and the mandate to continue to make people comply with the blockade. In general, the inhabitants of Auckland have done very well so far, but it won’t be a limit to their stamina to that. “

Tier 3 would allow the construction industry to reboot, people could slightly widen their bubble, and retail and hospitality could operate with contactless click-and-pick operations.

Hotel companies hold their breath for a change

A change in alert levels may not come soon enough for the hospitality industry, as some business owners are nearing the end of their tether.

Isabel Pasch, owner of Auckland’s Bread and Butter bakery and cafe, said a change to alert level 3 would be a step in the right direction, but still not enough to cover its costs.

“The mood in the industry is generally quite dark, we are all very stressed, it is not good. We have not been able to negotiate at all, it is very hard on everyone and on morale.”

“For me, alert level 3 or even 2 is probably not profitable, but eventually we will have to get there. It needs to move in that direction.”

Pasch said that business, general mental well-being and education were being affected by the shutdown, and that the government needed to consider more than public health when deciding whether Auckland would exit Tier 4.

“We can’t just look at things through this single lens,” he said.

Hospitality New Zealand CEO Julie White said many businesses outside of Auckland were also desperate to go down a notch, from level 2.

“We are very nervous. This uncertainty … is going to put a nail in the coffin for some operators if we don’t move, that’s what I’m hearing.

“We have encouraged the Cabinet to move at least the South Island; the South Island has not had a case for some time.”

At alert level 2, some operators were struggling to remain viable with no more than 50 people allowed in place at a time, and were “hanging out week after week.”

White said salary support and government resurgence support payments for businesses had been valuable, but their availability is dependent on alert levels, which can be changed on short notice, making advance planning difficult, especially for the staffing.

“[We want] a place payment that helps with your fixed costs like rent, fees, insurance, electricity, those kinds of fixed costs … to help reduce the burden of costs. We have fixed costs of up to $ 50,000 a month. “

Pasch seconded that call; “We need more industry specific fixed cost support. The easiest way is to do some form of rent or … electricity or other costs.

“There is a cost to operate the physical facilities that goes beyond the salaries and the ingredients that we have to buy … we need something, otherwise people will give up.”

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