The hospitality and retail sector is on edge ahead of today's announcement about a new Covid-19 protection "framework" and enhanced business support.
The main thing business owners want is confidence and continuity after weeks of financial and mental strain.
Groups representing thousands of small-to-medium businesses across the Auckland Region came together last week to pitch recommendations to the Government for urgent relief and set a path for recovery.
Viv Beck, chief executive of Heart of the City, said Auckland has been disproportionately impacted by Covid-19 and more than 200 days of restrictions have left many small to medium businesses in "serious strife".
"We are seeing business closures, job losses, growing debt, and health and wellbeing impacts on business owners, staff, and suppliers," she said.
"These effects are cumulative and the long tail of Covid-19 is hurting many businesses across a range of sectors. Thousands of businesses face an uncertain future as they head into the Christmas season."
The group includes the Auckland Business Chamber, Business Events Industry Aotearoa, Employers & Manufacturers Association, Heart of the City, Hospitality New Zealand (including Accommodation Association New Zealand), Restaurant Association, Retail New Zealand, Tourism Industry Aotearoa, Whāriki - Māori Business Network, the Pacific Business Trust, Amotai and Auckland Unlimited.
The organisations are united with one voice – Auckland businesses need certainty about how and when they can get back to more normal business.
On Monday Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Auckland would stay at level 3 with current restrictions that are already in place for at least the next two weeks.
She could not say exactly how long Auckland would be at level 3 before restrictions eased further.
However, the industry did get a heads up that Finance Minister Grant Robertson intends to announce an "enhanced business support" package on Friday. But the mood is worsening by the day among business owners in New Zealand's biggest city.
Set a target
Beck reiterated that last week the group made recommendations to the Government for a much broader business support package which included certainty around Auckland businesses being able to open and operate safely with a target of December 1, 2021.
Financial support should be extended from existing funding mechanisms along with an activation fund to stimulate the economy and support local businesses.
To get things moving hospitality businesses have also requested alcohol regulations for outdoor dining and Inland Revenue support for hardship, she said.
"The group is looking forward to seeing a substantial package that will provide clarity and certainty along with much needed financial relief when it is announced by the Government tomorrow," Beck said.
Hospitality NZ chief executive Julie White said food and beverage operators, as well as accommodation providers, are "on the edge financially and mentally".
She said she wanted a "hard reopening date" because this would provide some kind of clarity to the business.
"Owners and managers are stressed about how to remain afloat at the same time how to keep people employed and the harsh reality is at some point with zero revenue, people are going to lose their jobs and the livelihoods," she said.
Business Events Industry Aotearoa (BEIA) chief executive Lisa Hopkins also said confidence and continuity was essential.
"We are looking for a signal from Government that there is going to be more help available for business that really is struggling due to shut-down in Auckland.
"[We need] the opportunity for these types of business to have the ability to continue to be there when we come out of this ... so we have to rely on support from Government just to get them through which traditionally a quiet time anyway," she said.
Restaurant Association chief executive Marisa Bidois said right now business owners need a detailed plan and targeted support to get Auckland businesses moving again.
"Hospitality, particularly in Auckland has been one of the most heavily impacted as a result of this long lockdown.
"The predicament we find ourselves in, alongside many other businesses is a lack of certainty, a lack of targeted financial assistance, and a lack of clarity on our framework for reopening.
"We now need our Government to help us make reopening as painless as possible and get the economy moving again by injecting some financial stimulus," Bidois said.