Businesses are suffering while the country stays under the red light, say groups
Instead of Thursday, businesses are urging the government to review and announce the traffic light settings in New Zealand on Monday.
Auckland Business Chamber chief executive officer Michael Barnett said that if the government plans on downgrading the traffic light settings to Orange, they should do so on Monday to make its impact immediate and positive.
"It would signal to business and people that they can confidently make plans, travel, go on holiday, eat out, go shopping, look round town and enjoy the Easter break and the upcoming school holidays," he said in a statement.
"Thursday is too late for an announcement. Monday is better so businesses can plan, get in supplies and staff, and be ready to welcome back Aucklanders and visitors to their establishments," he added.
Barnett stressed that there is no need for "extend the pain" for businesses in the hospitality, accommodation, events, and retail sectors.
He made the remarks after the New Zealand government said it would carry out a review of the traffic light settings on April 14, Thursday. The entire country is currently under the red light, as some areas continue to suffer from consistent COVID-19 cases.
'Switch to Orange'
Meanwhile, Barnett said the government should "do the right thing" and announce a downgrade to the orange traffic light to help small businesses and get people back into the streets.
"We're asking Government to change the narrative and do the right thing. Switch to orange to give us our lives, livelihoods, and confidence back. It will be great for everyone," said Barnett.
"Auckland deserves a break. These small businesses have borne the brunt of the disruption caused by the virus and we need a lifeline. While many businesses would appreciate ongoing financial subsidies to help them, there are other things government can do, starting with getting people back into the city."
According to Barnett, the government should lead the way and demonstrate confidence and self-belief in their own policies by encouraging workers to return to their workplaces.
"Let Easter be a new beginning about living confidently again, knowing we are a highly vaccinated population and that our business community will act responsibly to protect everyone’s health and safety, be it wearing a mask or getting a booster," Barnett urged.
The Auckland Business Chamber is not the first organisation to cry out to the government on its extension of the Red light settings.
Hospitality NZ also said that it was "particularly gutting" that businesses received no indication on when the country would move to the Orange settings.
"Every day we're in Red is another day of struggle for venues up and down the country that have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic," said Hospitality NZ chief executive Julie White.
"The uncertainty is a business-killer. I'm not sure how much more they can take."