Time for economy to move to Alert Level 2

May 1, 2020

The EMA says the economy needs a return to Alert Level 2 on May 12 to get business back to work and kick-start the country’s economic engine.

Chief Executive Brett O’Riley says what this week at Alert Level 3 has shown is that the vast majority of businesses are taking a responsible approach to health and safety practices in the workplace and we can expect that to continue under Level 2.

“Unless there’s a compelling reason not to, the Government should announce on May 11 that we are moving immediately from Alert Level 3 to Alert Level 2,” says Mr O’Riley.

He says that any extra time at Alert Level 3 will sink a number of businesses that have only just been holding on, with further detrimental flow-on effects for their people and the economy.

“We’ve already seen a number of businesses going to the wall and a significant jump in the numbers of unemployed – we know that more businesses are certain to fold.”

“With no sign yet of any cashflow assistance package from the government we’ll see many more SMEs and some larger companies make the tough decision to close if there is a further extension of Alert Level 3 restrictions, says Mr O’Riley.

“The health arguments have rightly and understandably held sway in beating back this virus and businesses have complied well with Levels 4 and 3. It’s now time to trust them to continue work within Level 2 guidelines, allowing the bulk of the economy to get back underway while maintaining the required vigilance under the health guidelines.”

“But it’s time for business to start recovering its health.”

A quick online survey of EMA members showed that only eight per cent of those who took part did not have a health and safety plan in place in the week prior to Alert Level 3 was announced.

“Businesses are clear on the rules are and have been sticking by them. All businesses have been asked to make a plan, and we know our members are following them. There’s no reason to expect we won’t get the same levels of co-operation under Level 2,” he says.

“The survey told as that businesses are desperate to have customers back on their premises – with appropriate social distancing – because their revenue at Alert Level 3 is nowhere near what it could be and they’re still in danger of not making it through,” says Mr O’Riley.

“Level 2 will offer significant revenue increases for many and also allow other sectors such as retail and hospitality to operate again – but again under strict guidelines. It’s timely to give businesses that opportunity.”

“We welcomed the move to Alert Level 3, and we look forward to confirmation from the Government that they have a level of trust in the people and businesses of New Zealand to also operate responsibly at Alert Level 2 from May 13,” he says.

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