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Dairy owners group dubs 90 per cent double-vax target ‘torture’

The Dairy and Business Owners Group, the increasingly proactive voice of the nation’s estimated 5000 dairy and convenience-store operators, says the government’s target of 90 per cent double vaccination required before stores can fully reopen as “absolute torture” for the retail and hospitality trade. 

Sunny Kaushal, the Dairy and Business Owner’s Group’s chair, said members were relieved that the Government restructured the business Resurgence Support Payment conditions. Seeking weekly payments for retail and hospitality who cannot trade anywhere near normal, the group “won that” with the payment being doubled and moved to fortnightly payment. But there was a catch, he said. 

“The rub is that the first payment is three weeks away on 12 November.  We don’t understand why. This makes no sense as we’re running on fumes now.

“Businesses like mine face rent, power, gas and insurance costs with next to nothing coming in our front door. Like with the wage subsidy, for many businesses, this only offsets part of our costs.

“We must also ask what’s the difference between fully vaccinated, socially distanced people being served in a cafe by fully vaccinated staff versus Year 11, 12 and 13 pupils sitting in classrooms with schools reopening next week in Auckland?”

Kaushal described the policy as a double-standard, inconsistent, made worse by a “depressing” lack of a Covid passport. 

“People I know are in tears. The mental toll is crippling and I am afraid people will die.

“Our dairy members in the central cities, while able to trade are also struggling because there’s no life in the central city. There’s next to no foot traffic as there is no business activity and with today’s decision, no prospect of it. We still face a heavy criminal element that has not gone away.

“There’s a heap of fear that we’ll be stuck in a vaccination purgatory of ‘close but no cigar’ for this 90-per-cent double-vaccination target.

“As not everyone who gets a first dose will get their second, the government is aiming for something that only the UAE has come close to. Even then, the UAE hasn’t cracked the 90 per cent barrier, whereas across the Tasman they are reopening.”

Kaushal said the updated business Resurgence Support Payment creates a suspicion that the government knows the 90-per-cent threshold won’t be reached for months. 

“The same modellers behind a prediction of ‘early December,’ also said this lockdown would be short and sharp and we’d have at worst, 1000 cases,” Kaushal said.

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