Sunday, November 28

Aucklanders eager to move to traffic light system: ‘We’re ready for it’

Auckland residents have been promised more freedom from the end of the month, with a change to the new traffic light system.

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The Covid-19 protection framework starts with ‘red’ when retail opens with capacity limits based on a distance of 1 meter.
Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

The region is marking two milestones this week, with 90 percent of all its DHBs having received their first dose of the vaccine, and moving to level 3, step 2, as of midnight.

Then, on November 29, the Cabinet will decide whether vaccination rates are high enough to enter the traffic light system. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said yesterday about the current progress that there was a strong expectation that Auckland would drop the current restrictions around that date.

Many cafes have been closed during the Auckland closure, including Remedy Coffee in front of the Civic Theater on Wellesley Street.

O’Hanlon said it would reopen this week for takeout, but was confident that it would be able to welcome customers to tables starting in December.

“There is a limited amount of turnover that you are going to get, the city is a ghost town right now. I can’t see many more people coming back to the CBD just because the shops are open, maybe on the weekend, but not during week.

“I think people will hesitate until, fingers crossed, the first day of the December reopening, when the vaccines are in place and everyone is on board.”

Under the traffic light system, even at the most restrictive ‘red’ level, the hospitality industry and other companies can open with vaccination certificates, number limits and distance. However, for the unvaccinated, strong restrictions remain.

Auckland hairdresser Simone Jones is on the Hair and Barber board and said there was some uncertainty in the jump to the new system.

“Going from nothing to the red light system in one day is not going to give us enough time.

“Some salon owners called me today to say ‘what should we do? Should we start booking our clients from December 1 or should we start from late November? And I really don’t know.”

“It sounds really stupid, but one day it makes a big difference to us.”

Rose, an Auckland resident and hospitality worker, hopes the new restrictions will be eased.

“We definitely feel we’re ready for it and it means companies can prepare for opening. It gives us a little nudge to get ready.”

For another Auckland resident, Michael, now was the time to “end the extreme measures” given the high vaccination rate.

Business isn’t expected to pick up in the city until thousands of office workers and domestic travelers return, which could be next year.

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Photo: RNZ / Vinay Ranchhod

Auckland’s Heart of the City business association executive director Viv Beck said a red shift was unlikely to drive people back in droves, and it wouldn’t be until the traffic light system turned green that things they would really change.

“We’re hoping to go from, say, $ 3.5 million in revenue a week to $ 10 million; that would be a step up. But it’s still around 60 percent below our normal level, so that’s a great deal. impact”.

Beck wanted clarity on how the period in “red” would be handled; about business support, plans to reactivate the city, and what would happen to MIQ and the border nationally and internationally.

“Businesses will need it because it will be a long road for them.”

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