Covid 19 coronavirus: Narking causing stress, anxiety for small business owners trying to ‘stay afloat’

Auckland business owners already struggling to stay afloat during current level 3 restrictions say being unfairly reported to police for “breaching” the rules is causing them huge stress and anxiety.

And while they understand the community’s fear around the spread of Covid-19, they are encouraging people to call them first before “narking” to authorities or sending photos straight to media outlets.

The Herald has received a number of photos and videos of businesses allegedly breaching rules and of members of the public gathering in larger groups.

Some have been reported to police.

At alert level 3, there are restrictions to keep workers safe, limit interaction with customers and help prevent the spread of the virus.

If a business – including restaurants, gyms, retail stores – requires close physical contact it can’t operate.

Many food outlets are offering a pick-up service and online purchasing is available at many stores.

Yesterday the police non-emergency 105 line was experiencing high demand with people calling to report potential breaches.

On Sunday the line received 3746 calls -approximately 1000 more calls than usual.

The Herald has also been inundated by people concerned their businesses were operating outside the rules.

Cafe owner 'stressed' after being 'targeted'

Narrow Neck Beach Cafe owner Josie Wang was devastated when police called in to see her this morning.

The Herald was also contacted by someone who claimed the cafe was operating a dine-in service.

Wang said that was not the case and that police were satisfied she was operating within level 3 rules.

The cafe has a number of fixed tables outside and a photo supplied to the Herald showed three lots of people sitting there.

Wang said two tables were people who had come together and were waiting for food or coffee. The other table was occupied by a person who had wandered in from the surrounding reserve.

She was doing a take out service and running things solo so her staff were kept safe.

“I can’t move the tables and the rules don’t say you have to cordon tables off,” she said.

“But the police are going to help and bring back some tape, and I have now put signs up.

“I care very much, we are very much a community business and a responsible cafe – I am very stressed.”

Wang said she was desperate to keep her business going – but was also giving free meals to vulnerable and older people in the community because everyone was doing it tough during the pandemic.

“I can’t stop people from sitting on the picnic tables (in the reserve) and people want to sit and wait for their coffee … I am not doing any dine-in,” she assured.

“I understand (the Government) has asked people to report breaches but sending photos to the media (and) shaming businesses … is not the right way to do this.

“We are all for keeping people safe, we’ve been doing everything we possibly can and in all the other lockdowns no one has complained.”

She felt some people were “targeting” businesses and asked that they speak to the owner or manager first for an explanation.

Fitness studio pleads for understanding

Another business that was “dobbed in” was the F45 fitness studio in Mt Eden.

Photos taken at 5.55am show people inside the gym.

But the owner told the Herald everything they were doing was in line with the rules.

They were live-streaming classes for members – socially distanced – so they could keep their fitness up during lockdown.

The studio owner told the Herald they were reported to police last lockdown and officers who visited confirmed “everything was above board”.

“We have also called the local police (today) and they have again confirmed that we are doing everything above board,” she said.

“We are definitely not open and there are signs in the window to explain what we are doing, that we are in here filming live and if you see anyone on site that’s what we are doing.

“There are no members of site – I’m the owner and I’m not even going in there to work out.”

She said being “reported” to police and the media was frustrating and caused unnecessary stress.

“I’m really, really anxious,” she said.

“This kind of thing … if these rumours (we are operating) spread, this can destroy a business.

“We’re trying to do everything we can to keep our heads above water, we are doing the right thing and at the same time we are supporting our members who are begging us for these classes.”

She understood that people were concerned about businesses not doing the right thing, but urged them to call the studio before taking any other action.

“We’re trying to do the absolute right thing – but there’s always someone out there with nothing better to do, I guess,” she said.

“If you see us in the studio, come and knock on the window, we won’t be rude, we’ll certainly explain the situation.”

The Herald has also received reports of people gathering including a covert church meeting and a bakery letting customers on-site to purchase goods.

These have been reported to the police via the 105 number.

Kerbside market 'crazy' with sales

One woman called police yesterday after spotting a car pull onto a Hobsonville street and its occupants appeared to be selling food.

She called 105 after a large group gathered around the vehicle.

She said as soon as the car pulled up people swarmed to it – so she believed it may have been advertised online somewhere.

“They pulled up opened the boot and they set up two trestle tables selling what looked like cooked chickens, bread and vegetables,” she told the Herald.

“There were no masks, no social distancing and people were paying in cash

“I couldn’t believe it; it was like kids in a candy store.”

Tables were set up on the footpath so people cycling and walking had to go around them.

The woman immediately reported the breach online and was able to give the registration number of the car.

The woman said the car was there for an hour with people lined up.

“If one of those people had Covid then there’s another 150 businesses out of work,” she said.

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