Covid 19 coronavirus: Newmarket businesses hoping to move to level 2: ‘It’s hurting a lot of people’


The head of a major Auckland businesses association is hoping to see the Government allow the retail and hospitality sectors to reopen under alert level 2.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will provide updates at 1pm as to how the country would operate when the move from level 3 to 2 takes place.

Newmarket Business Association chief executive Mark Knoff-Thomas hoped the announcement would be positive for businesses.

Mark Knoff-Thomas, chief executive of the Newmarket Business Association. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Mark Knoff-Thomas, chief executive of the Newmarket Business Association. Photo / Jason Oxenham

“People will be listening very keenly today to see what it means if and when [level 2] does happen,” he told the Herald.

“Every day that people aren’t able to trade in full is a day they’re not able to make any money, or as much as they could.

“It’s hurting a lot of people – and I mean a lot of people – I think the fallout from this will be felt for a very long time.”

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Supermarkets had paved the way forward, showing Kiwis how retail could work without a vaccine or cure for the coronavirus, Knoff-Thomas said.

Practises of limiting in-store numbers, social distancing and other control measures throughout the lockdown showed it was possible for stores to operate.

Meanwhile, restaurants could seat people at every other table to ensure there was at least a two-metre separation from other patrons.

Even without a vaccine for Covid-19, Knoff-Thomas expected Kiwis to not be shy about heading back to businesses under level 2.

But it was key to make sure consumers felt they were safe and businesses would work hard to ensure that was the case, he said.

To help put shoppers, locals and commuters through the Newmarket area, the association was rolling out foot-pumped hand-sanitiser stations.

“That sort of thing is going to become the new normal where you go shopping and you sanitise, you might wear a mask,” Knoff-Thomas said.

“I think we’re realising that’s what we might have to do for a wee while until such time the virus is eradicated or a cure has been found and rolled out.”

Some businesses were expected to never reopen following the lockdown and alert level 3, as was the nature of a market economy.

And while there had been some “horror stories” since New Zealand entered lockdown in March, there were some positives.

Businesses which previously did not tap into e-commerce had seen the importance of it and really turned their operations around, Knoff-Thomas said.

In a matter of weeks, some had “leapfrogged” their old technology to have a website full of their information and product offerings.

The Westfield Newmarket shopping mall is relatively new to the precinct. Photo / Dean Purcell
The Westfield Newmarket shopping mall is relatively new to the precinct. Photo / Dean Purcell

“I think this has highlighted to a lot of businesses that they do have to have an online business that is strong,” Knoff-Thomas said.

“If they’re not doing that, then they’re only really trading with half of the business because you need to have every single tap turned on to the market.”

The association had its fingers crossed the move to head into level 2 next week would be announced by Ardern later today.

“We’re just very keen to get back to business as fast as possible and make sure that we do implement the correct health and safety measures,” Knoff-Thomas said.

“We want people to feel a level of comfort as consumers coming back to Newmarket are coming back to an environment where health and safety is paramount and top of mind.



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