Waiheke businesses struggling with Covid restrictions

Source: 1News

Waiheke businesses say they’re struggling without tourists, as Auckland’s lockdown nears the 100-day mark.

A public health order was issued for Waiheke when Auckland moved to Alert Level 3 in September, stopping non-residents from going to the island as it worked to increase its vaccination rates.

Now, 82 per cent of locals are fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

Waiheke Island Tourism Inc’s Christina Hyde said the island was starting to feel like the “forgotten child”. She felt the Government was too busy paying attention to other regions.

“We’ve been behaving well, sitting quietly, getting vaccination rates up,” she said.

“We can’t cater for customers from Auckland and we can’t cater for customers from out of Auckland. So, we’ve really been locked off from our major market.”

Waiheke Local Board chair Cath Handley is now advocating that the restriction on non-residents going to the island be lifted at the same time Auckland moves into the traffic light system.

The Government’s Covid-19 response group confirmed that would be happening. But, many businesses say they can’t wait until then.

Simon Pope, who owns The Local restaurant, said his business’ overdraft was “horrendous”.

He tried to do takeaways under Alert Level 3, but said it was a “waste of time”. He stopped after Labour weekend.

“My mental health is struggling. I’m seeing somebody on a semi-weekly basis just to offload,” he said.

But, Handley said she understood that the Government had said an immediate lifting of restrictions wasn’t possible.

Three-quarters of all Waiheke businesses said more than half of their earnings come from Tāmaki Makaurau, while one quarter said Aucklanders contribute to 80 per cent of their total income.