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February 27, 2021 4 min
Aucklanders are waking up this morning to alert level 3, and the rest of the country to level 2.
That means a large portion of businesses - hairdressers, gyms and cinemas, among others - will keep their doors shut and operations on hold as trading restrictions are re-implemented in the country's most populous city.
Supermarkets, dairies, petrol stations, butchers and greengrocers will remain open to shoppers as normal, while cafes, eateries and restaurants move to takeaways only.
The move back to alert level 3 for Auckland-based businesses will no doubt come as a blow and will have knock-on effects for those in other regions of the country.
Finance Minister Grant Robertson has confirmed that $500 million in wage subsidies will be available to businesses that need financial support.
The Auckland Chamber of Commerce says it is disappointed for the sectors that will be "adversely affected" by the upgrade in alert levels, but it says the public needs to do its part to keep Covid-19 out of the community.
"Government cannot be blamed for having to take this drastic action and nor be accused of failing to contain this outbreak. We have let the Government and ourselves down. We were trusted to follow the rules and do what is right to keep us safe. Those rules were broken and now we all have to live with the consequences," Michael Barnett, chief executive of the Auckland Chamber, said.
Earlier this week it was revealed that a family member of a confirmed positive Covid case linked to the Papatoetoe High School cluster had failed to follow Ministry of Health guidelines and had attended work at KFC on multiple occasions.
Yesterday, another case in the South Auckland community was confirmed and it was found that the person had also failed to self-isolate, instead attending the Manukau Institute of Technology for three days: February 22, 25 and 26.
The person is a household contact of a student from Papatoetoe High School who had returned three negative tests and was asymptomatic.
Barnett said business and the community would be "bitterly disappointed" that Auckland had been plunged back into a level 3 lockdown for seven days while the rest of New Zealand reverts to level 2 as health authorities work to contain the latest community outbreak.
He described the upgrade in alert levels as a massive blow to New Zealand's recovering economy.
"It is frustrating and a blow to recovery, but we will rally and accept the help put in place to save jobs. Businesses will be eligible for both the wage subsidy and the resurgence payments to mitigate some of the costs and liabilities from having to limit activities for the next week in such short order even though we all could see the warning signs," he said.
"The most helpful thing business and business leaders can do for their people and families is to encourage and provide support to ensure they all comply with the rules of hand washing, social distancing, QR code scanning, and most importantly, if you are unwell, are identified as a close contact or contact, or have visited any of the locations identified as places of interest by the authorities, stay home, call the Healthline, follow the instructions on getting a test and remain at home in isolation until you are told you are clear."
The sooner everyone followed the rules, the sooner the country, particularly Auckland, could get back on track and "reclaim our lives and livelihoods", he said.
The Restaurant Association said the change in alert levels was a "major blow" for the hospitality industry that was already "struggling for survival".
"This is another major blow for our industry who are already struggling to recover from the compounded impact of changes to alert levels and border closures. With borders closed, our revenues continue to suffer and these changes of alert levels are incredibly difficult to manage," Restaurant Association chief executive Marisa Bidois said.
"Sunday is a big day for hospo and our businesses will have stocked up...
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