With 100,000 workers staying out of Auckland city today, businesses will be taking a major hit without extra financial support, says a business association.
It is a challenging time for businesses, says chief executive of business association Heart of the City, Viv Beck.
With international spending already down, workers staying home today will have a big impact on them.
Despite having not gone up an alert level this morning, businesses will still need support, she said.
“On the one hand it’s not an alert level but it’s still a massive impact… to be a position like today where it’s not an alert level so you can open and trade but if you haven’t got 100,000 workers and you’re reliant on those businesses, that’s a huge impact on you.
“Some businesses are really in the eye of this and it’s been over an extended period.”
The daily spending has been about $3 million a day over the past week, she said.
On top of this, Beck says messaging from health officials has been confusing and needs to be improved and localised.
“What we’re hoping can start to happen is better ring fencing because it’s a large area of the city centre so to get a message saying everybody stay home if they can, when you’re talking over 100,000 workers that’s a lot of people and a lot of impact even just with a day’s trading.”
The city centre is a relatively large area – do you need to close the whole place down? she asked.
“We’re just really hoping that this can be contained very quickly, that it’s positive news to think that it’s likely to be linked to the Defence Force case but we’re waiting to hear that because that will obviously have a big impact…”
Restaurants facing no-shows and cancellations
Auckland restaurateur Chand Sahrawat says reservations at her restaurant this morning are half of what they were yesterday.
“The same thing happened yesterday, a lot of no-shows, cancellation, we had the phone ringing off the hook and we expected it to fall even further because when the government says don’t come into the city everybody listens.”
She says people have become complacent when going out in Auckland.
About 60-70 percent are using the QR code at her restaurant.
“Our reservation systems are also geared to record each table’s names so we don’t allow walk-ins to just come and sit.”
Fellow restaurateur Sunny Kaushal says the messaging has created a panic state and a number of businesses he represents are feeling nervous.
“There could be a better way advising people to act responsibly and follow those precautions rather than the government authorities telling all 100,000 people to keep away from Auckland CBD.”
Many businesses are hit with both the City Rail Link disruptions as well as Covid, he said.
“These businesses are the ones that are most ignored by the government.”
The city looks like a ghost city already, he said.