Rotorua MP Todd McClay says Rotorua needs special cash treatment. He talks to journalist Kelly Makiha about why.
Rotorua MP Todd McClay is calling for the city to get special Government treatment to the tune of $50 million as he says its future is at stake.
McClay said that while the Government's $12b coronavirus support package announced last week was helpful, Rotorua needed more.
There are now 66 confirmed cases of Covid-12 in New Zealand, including one each in Rotorua, Taupō and Tauranga.
New Zealanders are on high alert, the borders have closed and the Government is asking for minimal domestic travel. Those aged over 70 are being asked to stay home and no gathers of more than 100 people are allowed to be held.
McClay said he had spent time with the city's business and tourism operators during the past few days and he feared for the futures of their businesses if the businesses didn't get help.
He said while the support package helped small to medium businesses keep cashflow for out-of-work staff members, the businesses that were being forced to close still had to pay overheads and running costs.
He said if they were to open again once this was all over, they needed money this week.
His calls come as Rotorua's world famous tourist attraction, Te Puia/New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute was forced to close its doors on Saturday.
Staff, contractors and trade customers were told on Saturday the attraction would be shut for an unknown period from 6pm, due to a confirmed case of Covid-19 relating to a visitor at the site earlier in March.
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The visitor – from the United States – visited Te Puia for its evening Te Po experience on Sunday, March 8, and was diagnosed in the United States on March 18 after returning home.
Te Puia chief executive Tim Cossar said he understood the visitor was not feeling sick when they were at Te Puia.
"The case has been reported to the Ministry of Health by the tour company involved.
"We have spoken with Healthline and they, and us, believe we are low risk. But we have had to take some necessary measures as a result," Cossar said.
"The health, safety and wellbeing of our people and manuhiri is our absolute priority, so we are closing from 6pm tonight and will not be open until further notice.
"Our people have been asked to stay at home unless they have been contacted by a senior manager and to practice appropriate social distancing measures."
Cossar wanted to reinforce that the decision had been made as a direct result of the confirmed Covid-19 case, and was separate from other work under way regarding future changes the operation may need to make.
"As our chairman said earlier ... we are operating in unprecedented times, which requires an unprecedented response.
"The legacy of our operation goes back more than 200 years and the decisions we are working through now will ensure that legacy can continue long into the future."
The Rotorua Daily Post understands that Te Puia and the New Zealand Māori and Crafts Institute are reviewing staffing levels in response to the impact Covid-19 has on the tourism market.
Harry Burkhardt, chairman of the institute and Te Puia said, in a written statement, the businesses were operating in unprecedented times, which required an unprecedented response.
Several other tourism and hospitality businesses have closed temporarily in recent days as a result of Covid-19, including Paradise Valley Springs, Ponsonby Rd Lounge Bar and River Jet.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's office was contacted for comment regarding McClay's calls but they were unable to respond before deadline.
However, a spokesman from Ardern's office said it was reported last week that the Government was "actively discussing working capital support for small and medium businesses and tailor-made support for larger and complex businesses".
The Rotorua Daily Post understands that further announcements are expected very soon on the extra work the Government has been doing.