Retail therapy offered to ease growing lockdown frustrations

Source: 1News

The business and hospitality sector have expressed relief, as well as frustration, at the planned easing of restrictions for the Auckland and Waikato regions.

Auckland and the parts of Waikato at Alert Level 3 will move to step two in the current phased roadmap system, with Waikato moving at 11:59pm on Tuesday, November 2 and Auckland next week at 11:59pm on Tuesday, November 9.

The move will see an easing of restrictions to allow retail to open back up, with customers able to enter premises, wearing face coverings and keeping two metres apart.

“It’s because of high vaccination rates that we can move forward with confidence, but public health measures remain extremely important as we ease restrictions,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday.

“The public advice we’ve had is that opening up retail doesn’t lead to a marked increase of cases."

Julia Curran of Claire Designer Clothing in Milford, Auckland told 1News her store is "ready to go".

"We can safely handle amounts of people coming in, we can handle distancing, we have a counter that goes up the middle of the shop and have people go either side of it," she said, adding customers must use the Covid Tracer App when they come in.

However, there is disappointment retail in Auckland won't open until next week. 

Children's clothing generic image.

Businesses are struggling and it's estimated the central city alone would have lost as much as $1 billion by December. 

Chief executive of Retail NZ, Greg Harford says it’s "good news that the Government is moving to allow retail stores in the Waikato to open from midnight tomorrow, and Auckland from next Tuesday," but is warning that there’s a hard road ahead for many retail businesses.

"Every day and every week that a store is closed is costing a very large amount of money, it's making it harder for those stores to be able to recover when they can reopen," Harford told 1News.

And while it's good news for retail, there'll be no dining and drinking, no haircuts, no workouts or spa treatments in Auckland for a few weeks yet.

“What we have is yet another short-term plan with no certainty around when our businesses can plan to reopen,” says Marisa Bidois, CEO of the Restaurant Association.

“All we are asking for is a specific date around which our business can start planning, but once again we are left wanting.

“Our industry has been left behind in the three-step process and while retail is opening and outdoor gatherings can increase in size, hospitality remains closed.

“We have requested an opening of hospitality for outdoor dining at level 3.2 but are yet to receive a response to this suggestion.

“It doesn’t make much sense to business owners to see people picnicking in groups of 25 whilst smaller groups are unable to make use of outdoor dining areas in our venues," Bidois says. 

“We implore the Government at this stage to give us a set date to work to. This will allow our businesses to plan with some certainty.”