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Government should step up business support until Stage 1, says TBA

The New Zealand government and Auckland Council need to step up business support measures beyond current levels, according to Takapuna Business Association Terence Harpur.

Harpur said businesses that are struggling under the current Stage 4 restrictions will only be able to begin recovery once alert levels are reduced to Stage 1.

“While additional payments will help, the ongoing impacts on Auckland business will be severe,” said Harpur.

On Monday, the government extended Auckland’s lockdown as positive cases continued to be detected in the community.

Retail NZ CEO Greg Harford described the extension to the Level 4 lockdown as “devastating news” for retailers and other businesses trying to survive the Covid-19 outbreak.

“While it is important for the government to manage the current health crisis, the extension to the lockdown is hugely difficult for businesses, and may be a fatal blow for some,” he said. 

“What was meant to be a short, sharp, three-day lockdown is now moving into its fourth week.  While the Government has provided some support via the Wage Subsidy and the Resurgence Support Payment, the reality is that this support is limited and will not be enough to stop businesses from going to the wall.

Retail spend was down 96.2 per cent during the week to September 5 compared to the same period a year prior, according to Marketview data, while spending in footwear and department stores fell 100 per cent.

According to Harpur, it is critical that business support payments are paid every week, not every three weeks as has been announced, to support the businesses seeing this kind of downturn, and urged the Government to support rent subsidies for tenants and push for mortgage-free holidays for landlords who reduce rents by at least 75 per cent for retail tenants.

“Let’s not forget that Level 3 changes little and Level 2 still means considerable restrictions. In fact, in February and March, Auckland’s retail statistics showed that Level 3, and even Level 2, remained an absolute killer,” he said.

“For business, these levels are still a considerable struggle to stay afloat.”

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