Christchurch business leader welcomes Government announcement on Covid-19 framework

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
Oct 22, 2021 |

Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce Leeann Watson has welcomed today’s announcement regarding the new Covid-19 protection framework and the details around what it will take to get the South Island out of the current Alert Level 2.

“It is positive to hear a plan for re-opening the economy and a pathway out of lockdown that instead focuses on vaccinations. This will provide businesses a degree of certainty and confidence to start planning ahead, but it comes with the condition that we must reach our 90% double dosed vaccination rate to get there.

“The Chamber has been advocating strongly for Canterbury businesses and indeed the South Island to move down the Alert Levels and to receive more clarity and information on what future operating restrictions will look like – and when – given we have not had COVID here for over 300 days. There has been a high degree of frustration across our community at the lack of information for the Christchurch, Canterbury and the South Island in the last few Government announcements.

“While we appreciate that Level 3 has much tighter restrictions and the impacts are significant, Level 2 for business – particularly those involved in hospitality, retail, accommodation and events – are still significantly impacted. On top of that many Canterbury businesses are also feeling the impact of Auckland being in Level 4 with 50% of Christchurch’s visitor spend traditionally coming out of Auckland.

“It was pleasing to hear of the increased financial support that will be available from 12 November through the Resurgence Support Payment which will help those businesses and sectors in Canterbury that are most impacted by remaining in Alert Level 2 and operating under these restrictions, alongside the continuation of the Wage Subsidy.”

Ms Watson says the framework is also welcomed in terms of legal guidelines for businesses.

“We are very pleased that the Government has signalled that this framework will set up legal protections for businesses to refuse non-vaccinated people and employers for staff mandates, as this is an area that we receive numerous enquiries about from our members and wider business community. Businesses also need approaches and guidance to be able to take defendable decisions in preparing their workforces moving forward and we look forward to continuing to work with Government to gain greater clarity on this.”

Chief Executive Leeann Watson says the key will be clear communications and guidelines, as well as ongoing support for businesses through the transition to a highly vaccinated population.

“It is good to hear about the Governments vaccination targets and once we reach these, what the new operating conditions are likely to be for business. While there will be some frustration that we are to stay in Alert Level 2 until we reach the 90% double vaccination target, Cantabrians have done a great job over the last few weeks of getting our rates up, including the highest vaccination rates in the country on Super Saturday. However, this announcement reinforces the need for us to encourage those people who remain unvaccinated to get the vaccine, to protect our communities, workplaces, friends and whānau – and economy.”

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch is a journalist, videographer and content producer, broadcasting from his independent news and production company in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you have a news tip or are interested in video content, email [email protected]

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