Auckland businesses have had a mixed reaction to the city moving to the red phase of the new Covid-19 protection framework, also known as the Traffic Light System, with some saying the tapering of Government financial support under the new system was a concern.
Heart of the City chief executive Viv Beck said she was pleased that most businesses would be able to reopen again but lack of ongoing financial support was concerning.
"Heart of the City is pleased that most businesses will be able to trade again from Friday, December 3. While we would prefer to be in the orange setting, the city is dressed for Christmas and there is a lot of excitement about serving customers again.
"We remain concerned about the lack of ongoing financial support for seriously impacted businesses, especially with the holiday season approaching and no certainty of how long we will remain at red.
"Having confirmation from the Prime Minister that there is no requirement to work from home in the red traffic light is a much-needed boost. This latest lockdown has knocked many of our customer-facing businesses to their knees and with no visitors or students, the return of workers is vital.
"We are asking large employers to support small businesses in the city centre by bringing at least some of their people back to the office from Friday," Beck said.
Today the Prime Minister revealed the country will shift into the new traffic light system on Friday.
Jacinda Ardern said the long-awaited traffic light decision follows a successful domestic pandemic response.
Regions entering red light settings include Northland, Auckland, Taupō and Rotorua Lakes Districts, Kawerau, Whakatane, Ōpōtiki Districts, Gisborne District, Wairoa District, Rangitikei, Whanganui and Ruapehu Districts.
The rest of the North Island and the entire South Island will move straight to orange.
These Traffic Light settings will be reviewed every two weeks.
Minister of Finance Grant Robertson said a new transition payment will be made available for affected businesses in Auckland, Waikato and Northland.
This new payment would acknowledge restrictions companies had faced under the higher alert levels.
"The one-off transition payment will be activated through the Resurgence Support Payment (RSP) system criteria and be available on December 10," Robertson said.
He said more than $6 billion in support had been provided since August.
At all levels of the new framework, most businesses will be able to operate," Robertson said.
He said he would report back to Cabinet in the new year to see what help was needed.
But it was certain that targeted support in future would only be available under the red setting.
"Under orange and green, we will not be providing the widespread economic support we have in the past."
Auckland Business Chamber chief executive Michael Barnett said he welcomed the Government's financial transition support.
"It will be all go for Auckland business under the red setting of the covid protection framework with government recognising the hardship of more than 100 days of lockdown with a transition support payment and the continuation of the cash flow loan, mental health and business support and restructuring schemes.
"Business will welcome the one-off higher additional transition payment but the damage has been done," Barnett said.
"Government's support is appreciated – and needed. The red light gives business the green light to open and pull out all the stops to try and fix some of the harm to their finances and futures from more than three months locked out in just three weeks," Barnett said.
Restaurant Association chief executive Marisa Bidois said: "We have been calling for additional payments for those businesses transitioning from the current alert level system to the traffic light framework so it's good to see that the Government is listening and that there is further support on its away.
"This payment, as well as the continuation of the wage subsidy, will also be a welcome relief for our industry as we adapt to a new model of operating within the new framework at the red level."