The Takapuna Business Association is calling for comprehensive support packages as Auckland's lingering lockdown continues to hamper businesses.
Chief executive Terence Harpur says the Government and Auckland Council need to deliver support packages beyond the additional resurgence support payments announced last Friday, aimed at covering overhead costs faced by businesses such as rent.
Cabinet will tomorrow review alert levels for the whole country; announce for Auckland whether it can come out of level 4 lockdown and down to level 3, and for the rest of New Zealand whether it can move from level 2 down to level 1.
Last Friday Finance Minister Grant Robertson announced businesses could apply for a second round of one-off resurgence support payments, which would open on Friday, September 17, and be available until a month after the country returned to level 1.
There will be a further two rounds after that, paid out every three weeks.
To qualify, businesses need to demonstrate a 30 per cent drop in revenue over a seven-day period.
The payment differs from the wage subsidy scheme and is a grant to help cover fixed costs and overheads faced by businesses.
But Harpur says while three additional payments will help, the ongoing impacts on Auckland business will be severe.
"Let's not forget that level 3 changes little and level 2 still means considerable restrictions. In fact, in February and March, Auckland's retail statistics showed that level 3, and even level 2, remained an absolute killer," he said.
And Harpur warns some Takapuna hospitality operators won't even bother opening as many will struggle to break even with level 2's maximum limit of 50 people inside.
"In reality, retail and hospitality will only start recovering in level 1 once customer number restrictions lift and employees return to the office. This latest lockdown will take retailers and hospitality operators a long time to recover, if at all," Harpur said.
"I support the call for the resurgence payment to be paid weekly until level 1 – not every three weeks as has been announced. This is critical, particularly for retail, hospitality and personal services all of which face heavy restrictions for the foreseeable future.
"The wage subsidy should also continue through level 2 with past retail statistics proof that trade will remain crippled."
Marketview data, released by the Takapuna Business Association, showed for the week ending September 5 (under level 4), total retail spend in Takapuna was down 96.2 per cent compared to the same week last year.
And earlier this year when Auckland was in level 2 and 3, Takapuna's spend was reportedly down between 50 per cent and 85 per cent respectively.
Harpur also called on the Auckland Council to temporarily relax its outdoor dining restrictions and refund a raft of compliance fees to support those small businesses.
"Auckland Council needs to temporarily relax its outdoor dining restrictions for restaurants, bars and cafes so they can cater for more people while ensuring adequate space between tables. In fact, any outdoor licence restrictions should be removed for at least six months," he said.
"All outdoor licensing fees should be totally refunded. Other hospitality compliance fees for food safety fees, inspection fees, alcohol licences, registration fees and the likes should be at least 75 per cent refunded. This kind of support from council would send a great signal and would be a very timely boost to our hospitality operators."
Harpur said "level 3 and then level 2 will be welcomed by business but not celebrated."
Restaurant Association chief executive Marisa Bidois echoed similar sentiments around the resurgence payment announcement being a good step but not enough, arguing for "targeted financial support".
"The resurgence payment is welcome and helpful but it still won't be enough for many businesses," she said last Friday.
"It has become clear that there should be a different level of government assistance for those businesses prevented by law from earning any income to those who are able to work from home and keep revenue coming in."
Bidois said so far the Government's financial support had been largely employee-centric and now it was the owners who needed the targeted financial support to mitigate the fixed costs.
There were 20 new community cases of Covid-19 today, all in Auckland.
A recent spike in community cases over the weekend has put a potential move to level 3 this week in jeopardy, with experts further pouring cold water over such ideas.
Te Pūnaha Matatini Covid-19 modeller Professor Michael Plank said a move to level 3 soon would be "very risky" after community cases more than doubled from 11 to 23 on Saturday.
Michael Baker, University of Otago epidemiologist, also conceded moving Auckland to alert level 3 tomorrow was "extremely unlikely".
Baker said Auckland would have to have low numbers consistently for several days and hope not to see a pattern of any more unexpected cases.
"[An alert level shift next week] is certainly not impossible ... overall, things are going in a very positive direction," he said.