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Wage extension welcomed but more help needed for city centre businesses

Press release
Monday 17 Aug 2020

Heart of the City supports the two weeks extension to the wage subsidy but says it’s simply not enough. More support is needed, including to cover fixed costs, with many customers not being here with the mass withdrawal of more than 130,000 workers during Level 3.

Chief Executive of Heart of the City, Viv Beck says “The city centre has been hit by a perfect storm with the loss of international tourists, students, events and people working from home. Whilst the wage subsidy will keep some people in jobs longer, it’s a short-term fix to a problem that needs a more sustainable solution.”

“We were seeing a great response from Aucklanders to get out and support events like Restaurant Month but the reality is that the impact of a move back to Level 3 will be felt well beyond the time it’s in place for.”

“In Auckland’s city centre, many businesses are still reeling from the first wave of COVID-19 as well as the ongoing impact of construction. Level 3 trading restrictions will be crippling for some – over the 2.5 weeks of level 3 last time, city centre spending was down by about $60M.”

“It is likely that when restrictions are lifted, some people may again take time to return to working in the city centre. This will have a severe impact on business, and the success and vitality of the city centre, which contributes about 20% of Auckland GDP.  It is very difficult to start and stop businesses and some will not survive unless more help is available and there is confidence about how future outbreaks will be handled to avoid major restrictions on trading each time there is a new cluster.”