Auckland will remain in a level 3 lockdown until at least Sunday, August 30, after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern nixed the government’s original plan to ease restrictions on Wednesday.
The extension has been deemed necessary to get the recent outbreak of more than 100 new cases in the country’s largest city under control despite the significant impact it will have on clothing stores, restaurants and many other types of businesses.
Prior to Ardern’s announcement, the Takapuna Beach Business Association was advocating for the government to bypass the move to level 2 restrictions, and ease Auckland down to level “1.5”.
“As it stands, Level 2 would still present crippling barriers to many Auckland businesses and consumers,” Terence Harpur, TBBA chief executive, said in a statement.
According to the latest Marketview data, spending in Takapuna in the week ending August 16 was down more than 64 per cent on the same week last year. Auckland went into a level 3 lockdown on August 12.
The association expects spending figures from the week ending August 30 to be much worse.
Data shows that some types of businesses have been hit harder than others by the second round of lockdown. Food, liquor and pharmacy sales were just over 4 per cent down, while spending on hospitality and accommodation was down 76 per cent, fashion spending was down 80 per cent and homewares spending was down 73 per cent.
“Stepping down to the next alert level must safeguard the general public, but it also has to support our SMEs which are the lifeblood of our town centre and achieving an open economy,” Harpur said over the weekend.
Meanwhile, the Employers and Manufacturers Association said the focus now needs to be on resolving border control issues that could cripple businesses over the next six days. While Auckland is at level 3, the rest of the country is at level 2, which is impacting the movement of people and goods across the country.
“The shambles at the border began when documentation that was acceptable during the previous Alert Level 3 and Alert Level 4 was no longer acceptable, meaning people couldn’t get to work and goods couldn’t get through,” Brett O’Riley, CEO of the EMA, said in a statement.
“That was followed by communication breakdowns that saw some getting through and some not.”
The EMA and BuinessNZ have been working with the government to solve the issue, and O’Riley said he was keen to work with the government to adapt the guidelines at each alert level based on updated knowledge of Covid-19 and public health concerns.
“We want to see businesses allowed to open as long as they meet those restrictions rather than a system of exemptions, and we want to see clear guidelines and timelines so that businesses can respond quickly to each change in alert level,” he said.