Retailers face another week-long wait before opening their stores next Wednesday.
The Government yesterday announced that Auckland would be shifting to alert level 3 step 2, despite the city hitting record case Covid numbers amid the Delta outbreak.
Under the conditions, retail businesses will be allowed to open but they must abide by strict distancing rules.
Retailers will be responsible for limiting customers entering stores, so that everyone can safely stay 2 metres apart.
Close contact businesses that cannot abide by the 2-metre rule (including hairdressers) will not be allowed to open when the rules change next Wednesday.
Business owners will also be tasked with reminding customers to scan in using the NZ Covid Tracer app every time they enter a store.
Businesses will also have to ensure that they provide hand sanitiser, regularly clean and disinfect shared services and offer contactless payment options.
Workers must wear a face covering to work in retail.
The core rules are similar to the current conditions in place for supermarkets, dairies and green grocers.
One important rule to note is that food courts inside shopping malls must continue to offer contactless pick-up or delivery options only.
Customers cannot consume food or drink inside a shopping mall.
This is in line with the rules saying that hospitality businesses such as cafes, bars, restaurants and takeaway stores must remain contactless at steps 1 and 2.
One omission from the Government’s rules for operating under level 3 step 2 is any reference to vaccine passports.
This implies that the vaccine mandate intimated at an earlier press conference will not come into effect until the country shifts to the traffic light system.
The Government is yet to release a vaccine pass that would make the application of this system possible.
The announcements from the Government yesterday have left the restaurant industry in a particularly precarious position.
The Restaurant Association Auckland president Krishna Botica told the AM Show this morning that calls to allow outdoor dining have been ignored and that the industry had been left out of the immediate plans to relax restrictions.
“January is an absolute iceberg for hospitality in Auckland especially as the Prime Minister has pretty assured that Aucklanders will be able to get out of the restaurant by Christmas.”
She said every restaurateur she had spoken to said three weeks of trading was not enough to survive January and they needed the Government to set a date or allow them to open as soon as the vaccine certificates were ready.
“It’s really getting ridiculous now. We cannot sustain. We are going to see such carnage. I don’t even think people realise how bad it is out there, everybody is suffering.”
Glenfield also expressed frustration this morning, telling Mike Hosking on Newstalk ZB that retailers didn’t need a week to prepare to open.
“We’re very disappointed. We’ve been geared up ever since the beginning … we know what we’re doing, we’ve got our signage up, we’ve got sanitisers, QR codes and everything ready to go for a long time.
“We’re also faced with our close contact tenants having to wait for heaven knows how long.”
They had about 15 businesses that couldn’t open – hairdressers, nail bar, that couldn’t open and that was also “ridiculous”.
“They tell us that cases are going up, vaccinations are coming down, what’s going to be different in a week’s time?”
She said they were lucky that they hadn’t had any businesses go under but they had been supporting their businesses the last few weeks.
As for no vaccine app, “that’s quite a difficult one”.
They had contact tracing at every entrance and every entrance to every shop, mask-wearing would be compulsory but there was nothing else they could do.
As for being busy, she said they were geared up “for a very busy time” as they were primed for Christmas shoppers.
The mall would be decorated in Christmas decorations and “really ready for a big Christmas rush”.
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