Sunday, November 28

Lock extensions cause ‘economic carnage’ – businesses

The prolonged lockdowns are crushing news for businesses as many struggle to survive and more government support is needed, industry figures say.

credit card swipe through terminal, spending, consumer confidence, retail, hospitality

Photo: 123rf

Northland plunged back into alert level 3 restrictions at night, parts of Waikato remain at level 3, and Auckland is entering its ninth week with level 3 or 4 restrictions.

On Monday, the government published its plan to ease restrictions, but critics criticized it for being confusing and lacking a deadline.

Retail New Zealand CEO Greg Harford said the moves toward level 3 closings were devastating news for retailers in Northland and Waikato.

On this occasion, last year, the agency said that more than 10 percent of the nation’s retailers weren’t sure they could survive the next 12 months; now a third of retailers had doubts they would survive another year, Harford said.

“The ongoing blockades, including Auckland’s new ‘Roadmap’, are causing economic carnage,” said Harford.

“Many Auckland retailers are already on the brink of disaster after seven weeks of closure, businesses in Waikato and Northland will be preparing after the expansion of Level 3 restrictions.

As the Tier 3 area continues to expand, companies further south are wondering if their regions will be next.

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Greg Harford, CEO of Retail NZ
Photo: Supplied

In addition to more financial support for the companies, he wanted to see more firmness in the vaccine program.

“The most important thing the government should do is set a date when everyone should be vaccinated and work to achieve it so that we can begin to get out of alert levels.”

“Part of that is about giving companies the tools so they can implement vaccine policies and other provisions for their workforce without risking a personal complaint from an employee.”

The restrictions in Northland remain in effect until shortly before midnight Tuesday, and the Cabinet will review them on Monday.

The head of the Auckland business group said she had real concerns about the future of some companies.

Heart of the City CEO Viv Beck said companies were desperate and needed clarity.

“They need a clear border policy, clear vaccination goals, and a framework that gives them guidance on how that will work.”

“They need a commitment of additional financial support and basically there are no deadlines.”

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Heart of the City CEO Viv Beck
Photo: Supplied / HOTC

He said companies need as much certainty as possible, and that should come from the government. But so far, those affected by Auckland’s ongoing restrictions have not received the support they need.

They especially needed to know when and how they could start operating safely.

“We are dealing now with a situation where we have vaccines, so we should be able to give them a clear time frame, we should have a clear goal around vaccination rates and when they are going to be able to trade in a fair and reasonable way.” .

Harford said that while those in regions directly affected by the lockdowns were hit the hardest, retailers across the country were feeling the impact.

“We were quite surprised by the resilience of the sector last year, but as we see more and more lockdowns, it is becoming increasingly difficult.”

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