Lockdown extension the final straw for many battling businesses

The Government’s decision to extend the Level 4 lockdown in Auckland and Level 2 restrictions elsewhere in the country without additional urgent support will be the end of many businesses, National’s Economic Development and Small Business spokesperson Todd McClay says.

“The number of business casualties expected in the coming weeks is will grow significantly unless the Government does more to protect struggling companies from Covid restrictions.

“Levels of distress for operators of bars and restaurants in Auckland especially are extreme, and small businesses around the country are struggling to remain viable under the new, more restrictive Level 2 rules.

“It’s one thing for the Government to take a cautious approach to the Delta outbreak but it must be backed up with an equally ambitious approach to stopping business failure.

“Representatives from the restaurant and hospitality sectors met with the Government late last week and were told there would be no additional, sector-specific regional specific support.

“As Kiwis in Auckland do what the Government asks of them for the fifth week and isolate at home, they need to know that the Government understands how traumatic the lockdown is for their businesses and that they are committed to getting them through.

“The lack of additional targeted support suggests the Government is okay with the fact that many businesses will go to the wall and that Kiwis will lose their livelihoods.

“And we’re not talking about a few operations here and there – this will be catastrophic for hundreds of hospitality businesses nationally. Hospitality New Zealand has said that more than 80 per cent of its members say they are not sustainable after four weeks at Level 4.

“It’s not sustainable for a small business with no income for more than a month to operate, meaning they are likely to have to close their doors permanently.

“The cumulative impact of weeks and weeks of severe restriction will be devastating and long-lasting. The Government must act now and put additional support packages in place.

“Business leaders have said the extended resurgence payment has helped but is not enough and the wage subsidy only goes so far, especially when there are suppliers to pay and rent to cover.

“National’s proposal to assist businesses struggling to pay their rent is one tool in the toolbox. But even more support is needed right now, and only the Government can make that happen.

“It must act now because time’s pretty much up for a large number of businesses.”