Time has run out for businesses in Auckland, but Hipkins says hold on for traffic light system

The AM Show 03/11/2021

WATCH: Minister for COVID-19 response Chris Hipkins told Auckland businesses to hold on this morning as we get closer to the new traffic light system. But, many business owners have already hit their limit.

This coming Tuesday, retailers will be allowed to re-open their doors to customers at a limited capacity. Hospitality businesses however will not be able to seat anyone including outdoors. According to the rules laid out in step 2 of level 3, someone could have 24 different people from different bubbles in their back yard, and people will be allowed to go to a shopping mall, but a restaurant can't seat patrons outside to serve food & drinks.

When asked about this on The AM Show this morning, Hipkins said that they will consider this as they look at their options moving forward in Auckland.

"We'll keep looking at our options to have more freedom in Auckland. That gets closer to step three - frankly we're getting very close to the traffic light system now, we could hit that target within the next few weeks," he said.

"We don't want to yo-yo around and reimpose restrictions as they have in other countries that have eased their restrictions too soon. We want to march forward and continue to make progress and continue to open up, not be lurching back and forth."

In the meantime, Hipkins urges businesses to hold on for the 'traffic light' system which will allow up to 100 patrons with 1m social distancing.

"We acknowledge Aucklanders have done the hard yards. They're going to be heading into the traffic light system I would think - opening up more internally, within Auckland - by the end of this month," he said. "The faster we get to that 90 percent fully vaccinated target, the faster that can happen.

"When we do get to that traffic light system and that Red setting in Auckland, we won't be going back."

Unfortunately, time has run out for many Auckland businesses and are facing permanent closure if they can not get a good run in leading up to Christmas before the masses leave Auckland for the holidays.

When asked if Aucklanders will in fact actually be able to leave the city by then Hipkins said their best chance is to get vaccinated.

"We don't necessarily know how the next few weeks are going to unfold. We're planning for a whole variety of different scenarios there and we'll share further information on that over the next few weeks."

Vaccines are the best chance for people to be able to move around come Christmas.

"COVD-19 is going to make its way around the rest of the country, it's a question of when, not a question of 'if this happens'," he said.

"COVID-19 will find the unvaccinated, so get vaccinated. If you don't want to have restrictions in place at Christmas, if you want to be able to enjoy the good Kiwi summer, get vaccinated. 

"Now is the time. It's never been more urgent."

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