Confusion persists around businesses operating at Level 4

Source: 1News

More businesses have been able to operate under Alert Level 4 compared to last year, but confusion remains around which businesses are allowed to open.

For the past week, service station workers have been pouring coffees for customers desperate for their fix but now, they’ve been told to stop.

Rose Tata from Z Vivia St in Wellington's CBD called the news “very disheartening”.

“A lot of essential workers have sort of relied on us to come in and grab their coffee on their way to work,” she said.

Z service station attendant Rose Tata makes a coffee under Alert Level 4.

The Motor Trade Association says they had been cleared last week to sell hot food and drinks by the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

However, the rules were changed with no warning late Monday.

MBIE told 1 NEWS some people were entering service stations only to purchase coffee and hot food, while queues were forming at others.

“Hopefully, the customers appreciate that we are trying to help them and because it's been taken away we can't, so just be nice,” Tata said.

The Ministry says open businesses add to the risk of Covid-19 spreading. However, more businesses are operating, with 63 per cent of workers able to stay working at Level 4, compared to 53 per cent last year.

Butchers and bakers are among those operating by doing contactless delivery.

“We need to be able to keep some money coming in, keep the business going," John Cormack from Wairau Valley Butcher Jack said.

“Butchers still have a big part of business out there, so that's why we're doing what we can.”

Cormack said while only half his usual staff are working for safety reasons, revenue has also halved.

“So many people, especially in our area, they have to self-isolate,” he said. “This way, they can get stuff delivered to them.”

But more businesses remaining open may mean fewer are able to apply for the wage subsidy or other Government support.

“Businesses have got the processes in place so there's not that immediate sort of hit and panic,” Infometrics’ Gareth Kiernan said.

Money saved during lockdown is often splurged only after restrictions are lifted.

“A lot of that spending ends up going on sort of more luxury or not necessities, really, because people find they've got a bit of spare money so they're going to treat themselves,” Kiernan said.