Speed and scale key to Auckland moving from Alert Level 3

Feb 16, 2021

The EMA says the ability to move quickly up and down the alert level scale will be the cornerstone of successfully dealing with COVID-19 flare-ups in future.

Chief Executive Brett O’Riley welcomes the Government’s effective actions to address business needs during the fifth Alert Level 3 in Auckland but says there are ways it could shift gears between levels even more quickly.

“There should be no reason why we can’t go from Alert Level 3 straight to Alert Level 1 as soon as the health indicators allow, especially after today’s announcement of no new community cases. It’s a matter of having all the tools in the toolbox so the right one can be used at the right time,” he says.

“Our thanks must go to all the border workers, including those from our District Health Boards, for scaling up such a big operation so quickly, but let’s hope we can also be scale it down just as quickly.

“We know that cashflow is a real issue and that businesses across the country are really suffering. We’re not just talking about 72 hours of restrictions, but the flow-on effect from them,” Mr O’Riley says.

“For example, events and functions around Chinese New Year have been cancelled at huge expense and the hospitality sector doesn’t just bounce back. There’s a long lag from the restrictions because people simply don’t come straight back into venues when they re-open, and in some cases food had to be wasted.”

“We are in discussion with the Government for the support system for businesses to kick in more quickly because many businesses are working to such a slim sink or swim margin,” says Mr O’Riley.

He hopes more timely tools such as saliva testing will be added to the toolbox to give advance warning of potential flare-ups, make it simpler for people to take tests, cut down time to get results and provide more data, faster.

“Let’s get the system up to full speed now so practices like this, mask wearing and using the NZ COVID Tracer App become the norm. Then we can move really swiftly both up and down alert levels to minimise the impact on businesses, their workers and our communities,” he says.

For more information on COVID-19 in relation to business please see the EMA’s dedicated site covid19.ema.co.nz, call AdviceLine on 0800 300 362, or the Business Helpline on 0800 500 362.

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