Business owners fume over lack of clarity in next steps of Covid plan

Source: 1News

A rescue package worth billions of dollars for desperate businesses is being welcomed, but many business owners are angry over the lack of clarity on its next steps.

Mint Hairdressing, a popular salon on Auckland's North Shore, is among the businesses sitting empty for nine weeks with no opening date in sight.

“If I'm double vaccinated and my clients are double vaccinated, that we're moving forward with this a lot sooner than it being dragged out to the 29th of November,” Mint Hairdressing’s Karen Erp said.

“We're talking about vaccine passports so why is that not happening now?”

Hairdressers are among those desperate to open, but instead of a date, the Government has dished out cash, doubling the resurgence payment to a maximum of $43,000 per business.

“This is targeted to small and medium enterprises. These are the people who employ the workers around New Zealand,” Finance Minister Grant Robertson said in a media conference on Friday.

Opposition leader Judith Collins said she has received messages from people looking to, or are, closing their businesses after weeks of lockdown, with “everything they have saved for, worked for, gone”.

“We've got the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern standing there with a stop sign before you even get to the traffic lights,” she said.

The road ahead still features the wage subsidy, which costs $940 million a fortnight.

"We can see that there's a pathway ahead, maybe a few potholes in the pathway in terms of getting to 90 per cent," the Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA)'s Brett O'Riley said.

“It's great to have some light at the end of the tunnel. We can see the target,” Monsoon Poon Wellington’s Mike Egan added.

1News spoke to a number of business owners on Friday, some who say the unvaccinated are holding those who are vaccinated to ransom.

They added that while they welcome the extra financial help, many are angry at the lack of clarity around when they can open and how the vaccine certificates will work, although most welcome the idea.

“We've seen it work overseas. Again, it's another sort of carrot for people to go out and get vaccinated,” Egan said.

There’s also a slight boost for those on lower incomes, allowing more people to receive hardship grants.

The new traffic light system will also see businesses heavily impacted by the lockdown receive a “transition grant”.

However, Robertson told reporters his personal preference was for payments to “not be made available to those businesses that should be operating using a vaccine certificate regime but choose not to”.