Wellington businesses' biggest concern during the coronavirus outbreak is looking after their staff, the Wellington Chamber of Commerce says.

Chief executive John Milford said while initially the biggest concern would be lost revenue and customers, most businesses were now focusing on helping their staff through the outbreak and lockdown period.

"That's the biggest concern, making sure that they're doing everything they can to ensure the wellbeing of their staff. That is absolutely the focus.

"It's a step into the unknown for all of us," Milford said.


"We're hoping that this short, sharp shock is only four weeks, then we can get back to some sort of normalcy.

"I don't actually know what the new normal is going to be like."

Milford said there were not so many concerns about policing, as there was a belief the police and the military would have a strong presence in public.

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website

He said the feeling among many Wellington businesses was that "it's business as usual, not as usual".

Many office-based companies now had staff working from home, but it was the frontline businesses such as restaurants that would suffer.

He said the best way to support them would be to shop local and patronise those establishments once the lockdown was over.

Milford did not recommend buying gift vouchers for businesses without knowing if they would reopen.


"Where I live, I will be supporting my local community."

He said there was a variety of feelings among business owners from anxiety to uncertainty, "and we're all facing something none of us have ever faced before".

"The reality is I don't think we've ever been confined to our homes before for a lockdown period of time. It's a brand-new situation for everyone

People needed to continue to care for each other and for the elderly in the community, as well as people who live alone, he said.

"Wellbeing of people I think for the next few weeks is the critical thing.

"It's going to be tough ... when we come out the other side it's going to be better.


"Let's get down into this, let's get through the next four weeks."