Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Businesses want ‘assurance’ on a firm opening date

Businesses have welcomed news of Auckland’s border reopening mid-December, but need to be assured they will be back in business from December 1, says Brett O’Riley of the Employers and Manufacturers Association.

O’Riley, says while the EMA’s 7600 business members understand the announcement on moving to the traffic light system will be made on November 29, there is still uncertainty around when they can expect to reopen.

“That’s the pattern we’ve seen so far with these announcements – that the day following is when it comes into play – but business needs clarity so we can plan for this. The worst outcome would be to have to wait an extra few days or even a week to reopen,” he said.

“Retail’s open now, but Auckland’s hospitality industry is on its knees and needs to plan for restocking, organising staff and getting prepared to open on December 1.

“At the moment it feels like we’re in the last kilometre of a marathon and someone forgot to mark the finish line so we don’t know where it ends,” O’Riley said.

Today the Prime Minister announced that on November 29, the cabinet will confirm Auckland’s move into the traffic light system, into the Red level.

Ardern indicated the move to the new system would be very soon after the November 29 Cabinet meeting and would be a similar timeframe to level transitions as they have been in the past, when asked if it would be 24 hours or 48 hours from that time.

The rest of the country will move at the same time as Auckland, the Government will confirm at that meeting.

Areas with lower vaccination areas will be moved into the red level to protect people and promote vaccinations.

The traffic light system is safer than the alert level system, Ardern said.

More guidance would be released on the traffic light system as it relates to different sectors.

On a potential move to step 3 of alert level 3 for Auckland, Ardern said she wouldn’t predict the decision by Cabinet. However, she hoped today’s announcements would give people certainty.

Asked about the Green traffic light level, Ardern said today was about advising Kiwis on what would happen on November 29 and it would be determined what levels different areas of the country would move to and it was expected that move would happen soon after.

“Prepare for the new framework … it’s coming very soon,” Ardern said.

No area would step into Green straight away.

O’Riley said it is good to see Covid-19 vaccine certificates are now available, although we are still waiting for the frameworks for workplaces requiring them.

“We also need those to make a quick transition to more fully reopening after the November 29 announcement.

“Business understands the risks, they’ve shown how well they have managed them before, and they’re desperate to get back to it. I urge the Government to give them the hope and certainty they need around reopening,” O’Riley said.

Hospitality New Zealand chief executive Julie White said venues were ready to open for gatherings of 100 now.

“The opening of the Auckland border on December 15 means further disaster for Auckland hospitality,” she said.

“We will only have two weeks open under the unprofitable restricted red light rules before Aucklanders rush from the region, and then two weeks before the post-Christmas flat period,” White said.

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