A quick snapshot survey of how businesses are doing at alert level four reveals that over half will be seeking government support, with calls for a further vaccine ramp up.
"The consistent message we have received, from both this survey and the hundreds of phone calls we’re had, is that the only way out of Delta and get back to the new normal is through vaccination ramp up. It’s key to re-opening New Zealand to the world, and it’s key for all Kiwis to get back to work and life," says Simon Arcus, Wellington Chamber of Commerce and Business Central Chief Executive.
"While the alert level change to four caught some by surprise, the survey shows most businesses had plans in place in preparation. We asked how businesses were operating under Level 4 conditions. It’s no surprise that it’s a story of two halves, of those businesses that are essential, providing some essential products, or that can operate from home and those public-facing businesses that can’t operate at all. Just 12 per cent have said they are functioning at full capacity, over a quarter (26 per cent) are closed, and just over a third (35 per cent) operating at less than half of their usual capacity.
"With the alert level change decision ahead later today - we asked what the impact would be of moving to level three. Those that anticipate they can operate at full capacity or just slightly under jumps to 60 per cent, with only 8 per cent anticipating they will still be closed, and just over a third (30 per cent) operating at less than half of their usual capacity.
"With over half of businesses, (55 per cent) say they have already or are intending to, apply for the government support packages, it would be preferable to have a short alert level four, and a move to alert level three with rigorous health measures. Another 9 per cent say they will apply for Government assistance, should the lockdown continue beyond Friday's deadline.
"Overall, businesses support the Government's call so far, but businesses are looking at what the long-term plan is, so the country can avoid lockdowns as the only way to limiting virus transmission.
"We asked at what percentage of a full vaccinated population should New Zealand begin to resume open-border policies with the rest of the world. Just under a quarter (24 per cent) said at least 71 per cent, 35 per cent expected New Zealand to begin opening borders at 81 per cent, and 23 per cent wanted a vaccine rate of at least 91 per cent.
"Much of the open comment feedback stressed the need to rapidly vaccinate Kiwis, so it is encouraging to see the big uptick in vaccinations over the past few days as well as the number of bookings. These numbers must be sustained, and indeed increase over the coming weeks.
"We would also urge the Government to commence saliva testing and home testing kits which have been incredibly useful overseas, available here from local businesses, and no doubt take pressure off our stretched health services.
"As we wait for the decision to come later today, businesses in our region will hope for a clear path out of this latest lockdown. We're incredibly grateful to our health services and our essential workers, and to our communities for getting tested and vaccinated."