Crunch time for Bay businesses

By: Nigel Tutt

Nigel Tutt
Chief Executive of Priority One

 Super Saturday is an important step in New Zealand’s vaccination drive, both for the business community and the general population. 

The sentiment I get from most businesses is frustration that our Covid strategy has lost its way during the last six months, leading to damaging lockdowns, uncertainty and loss of competitiveness in export markets.

Despite this, there is a recognition that lockdowns are the only play in this difficult situation. We need vaccination rates to be higher to protect our fragile health system, and the sooner we can get to 90 per cent the better.

From an economic perspective, it is crucial that we’re able to ease restrictions for some small businesses. While the fundamentals of our economy are strong, I really feel for small businesses in the accommodation, hospitality and events sectors. 

They are our most vulnerable, and with lockdowns in key markets and no certainty about when we can get back to level one, they face a very difficult operating environment. Being an events promotor or operator is next to impossible at the moment.

Businesses in other sectors are also affected by the current situation. Owners are concerned about the health and safety implications of unvaccinated staff and customers, but have few tools or legal avenues to take action.

In this case and for the above, reaching a high vaccination threshold is the only way to get to a better place quickly.

While the Bay of Plenty has largely escaped the extreme difficulty we have seen in Auckland, we have no room for complacency – a Covid breakout and level three lockdown for an extended period would undoubtedly mean business closures and unemployment in the sectors I have already mentioned.

As a general rule, those type of events will affect younger and lower paid employees – the effects of which will linger.

I’m expecting businesses to get right behind Super Saturday in whatever way they can - not just for their own good, but for the ongoing wellbeing of our country and community.