Employers criticise government's COVID-19 approach: survey

Leaders are frustrated with endless lockdowns

Employers criticise government's COVID-19 approach: survey

A snap survey from the Auckland Business Chamber revealed that more than 1,000 employers are calling out the government's COVID-19 action plan.

"Comments in a snap survey, responded to within hours by over 1,000 employers, repeatedly criticise government’s pursuit of a strategy focused on health above and beyond all else when there are options to mitigate the financial carnage and damage to mental health and wellbeing," said Michael Barnett, president of the chamber.

According to Barnett, owners of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are growing frustrated and increasingly bitter over a lack of clarity in the government's plan to put them out of lockdown. The level 3 lockdown in Auckland was extended on Monday for another two weeks, as the government remains wary of the potential consequences if curbs are immediately lifted.

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The business chamber's survey showed that nearly 50% are losing more than $100,000, while 75% are funding losses and daily operations by using personal savings or extending mortgages. Barnett described the situation as "distressing" for employers.

"For many this endless lockdown will have diluted retirement funds and imposed debt on family homes that previously wasn't there," he said.

Despite this, 80% of the survey's respondents said they are still determined to stay afloat amid the lockdown, according to the chamber president, but added that they will "carry mental scars" that damaged families, relationships, and confidence.

Barnett said businesses need a specific recovery plan that will include mentoring, health and wellbeing backup, as well as legal support to mandatory vaccinations for employees.

"The hope will be that Government will come up with the pathway that will lead to a better future when they release their plans," said Barnett.

Mandatory vaccinations in New Zealand remain limited to education and health sector employees, and the chamber previously called for expansions to include businesses in the mandate as well.

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