Southland Chamber of Commerce frustrated by lack of clarity on lockdown

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Sheree Carey, chief executive of the Southland Chamber of Commerce, said businesses were grappling with three or four day lockdown extensions. [File Photo].

Robyn edie

Sheree Carey, chief executive of the Southland Chamber of Commerce, said businesses were grappling with three or four day lockdown extensions. [File Photo].

Three or four day Level 4 restrictions are starting to frustrate Southland businesses.

Sheree Carey, Managing Director of the Southland Chamber of Commerce, said: “I think people are frustrated because we have no certainty if we were like Auckland, and they said ‘Definitely you are in this for a while. two weeks, “people would make him learn to live with it, they would know what financial help they needed to get by.

“But saying Monday, we’ll repeat it to you on Friday, then say Friday, we’ll repeat it to you on Monday, that’s just not helpful.”

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Monday afternoon that New Zealand will remain at Level 4 until at least 11.59pm Friday, but Auckland has been extended until Tuesday, August 31 at 11.59pm.

Carey said some people had refrained from seeking financial aid in the first three days after the Level 4 restrictions were announced, but now accountants were increasingly busy with companies trying to access wage subsidies.

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The Department of Social Development was unable to say Tuesday how many Southland businesses had applied for the wage subsidy.

But among them was Fat Bastard Pies, an Invercargill-based company that would also be asking for the new resurgence support payment – a one-time payment from the government to help cover rent and other costs.

Fat Bastard Pies marketing director Simon Owen said they and other hotel companies couldn’t work from home during the lockdown, so it was important to tap into government support when it was offered.

Having no income to pay staff during the lockdown could ruin a small cafe or bakery, which is why the wage subsidy was key.

With the initial August 17 lockdown announced just hours before it started, Fat Bastard Pies, who hires six employees, lost a “ridiculous” amount of food she had prepared for the next day.

It was a cost the company couldn’t recoup, but the resurgence support payment would help pay for fixed costs like rent, he said.

Carey urged all Southland businesses affected by the lockdown to seek any available government support.

“A lot of businesses don’t have any income and they still have expenses.”

Carey said an additional concern for the business community was the lack of clarity given by the government on the alert level to which the South Island would fall if no cases were detected in the community by Friday.

“If there are no cases, does that mean that we are going to go to level 2?” Because level 2 or level 3 is a big difference, level 2 is a whole different story for businesses, ”she said.

“It’s the difference between restaurants and the local retailer opening their doors and letting customers in, although the social distancing and all the regulations with masks and signing and everything, but it means they can actually open their doors. doors. “

The unknowns made it difficult for businesses to plan for both personnel and supplies, and finding out on Friday afternoon that they could open on a Monday would be difficult for businesses to coordinate, she said.

“You’re never going to get for sure it’s a pandemic, but the longer periods would be fine, rather than the short three or four days, it’s just frustrating for businesses,” she said.

After announcing the extension on Monday, Air New Zealand said it would continue to operate a reduced schedule of flights across the country.

Customers who have booked to travel during Alert Level 4 do not need to do anything. They will receive a cancellation email and their reservation will be credited. Customers will have 12 months from the day their credit is processed to book a flight, and an additional 12 months to travel. Those who have booked through a third party will need to contact their agent.

Those who need to travel while the country is on Alert Level 4 should check their eligibility on the government’s COVID-19 website. Customers who meet the criteria and still wish to travel should call the Air New Zealand contact center to assist them with their reservation. Customers will also need to be in possession of a letter or proof confirming that they are traveling for essential purposes.

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