Business doors are closed, travel is restricted, and the people of our region have been asked to stay home. While the alert level 3 restrictions are there to protect Northlanders and our communities, the fatigue felt not only by our people but by our businesses is taking a toll.
As Tai Tokerau once again finds itself in the midst of an alert level lockdown, the path forward through the Covid-19 pandemic has become clear. We must improve the vaccination rates across Te Tai Tokerau, to protect our people and safeguard our regional economy.
Our local businesses have remained positive and steadfast through previous alert level shifts and their resilience is something which we as a region should be proud of.
Sharp alert level changes have created the need for businesses to be agile and adapt, closing up shop at short notice and reopening when alert levels allow to meet the required restrictions for service.
However, as Tai Tokerau endures this latest lockdown, our businesses grow weary and the impact of those closed doors on our economic resilience mounts.
The surest way to safeguard Tai Tokerau's health and economy is to vaccinate against Covid-19. Ensuring the health of our people comes first, and a continued team effort is needed to get us safely through this Covid-19 resurgence.
The public health advice is clear – the only way for us to beat the Delta variant of the virus, ensuring public and economic health is to vaccinate against Covid-19. It will take a team effort to get to the 90 per cent vaccination figure outlined as our country's goal by the Government, one which will require everyone eligible to play their part.
Prior to the latest lockdown, vaccination uptake in Tai Tokerau was slow, consistently behind for both first and second doses in comparison to other regions in New Zealand.
However, the realisation that Delta was on our doorstep and the swift response by our communities to get vaccinated over the weekend was heartening.
With a multitude of agencies and vaccination campaigns being rolled out across Northland to support and educate our whānau and communities on the vaccine and getting vaccinated, I'm hopeful we will continue to see these numbers increase.
The vaccination outreach campaigns are administered on the ground by frontline health workers who expose themselves to risk every day to promote our vaccination rates. I want to acknowledge these people for their bravery and determination.
The economic importance of getting vaccinated can be seen most clearly when you look at our communities during an alert level lockdown – look around at the closed doors of your local cafe, your neighbourhood dairy owner who sits at home waiting for the chance to open, your whānau who aren't able to go to work.
The economic impacts of Covid are not just felt at a macro level, they disseminate into the daily struggles of our local store owners and their workers who want to remain employed, their families who worry about their future income streams.
Te Tai Tokerau's peak visitor season is approaching. Our tourism, hospitality and events industries look forward to welcoming visitors from across the country.
The annual spend contributed to our regional economy through tourism sits around $566 million. While Northlanders travelling within our region are an important contributor to this figure, our greatest input comes via our neighbours in Auckland, who spend around $271 million travelling within our region annually.
With all that Tai Tokerau has to offer and the wealth of skilled operators and employees within our visitor industry, it's in our best interests to support them in keeping their doors open and welcoming visitors to our region this summer.
Having a vaccinated population allows us to keep Te Tai Tokerau connected to the rest of the nation, our businesses open and economy moving.
• Murray Reade is the chief executive office at Northland Inc.