This is one of the very reasons why people are occupying Parliament grounds
It’s all the talk on Takapuna’s main drag – the threat of closure if anyone gets pinged as a close contact.
“It’s a big, big concern, a lot of my friends as well they’ve been closed for seven days because they were a close contact and this doesn’t help at all anyone, not the workers, not employers, no-one,” Aubergine restaurant sous-chef Carmen Pipitone says.
At Aubergine no one can lay hands on the rapid antigen tests (RATs) that could see the restaurant reopen sooner, should any one of the 16 staff become a close contact.
“The restaurant will be open sooner, we can operate and we’re not going to waste any government money or time,” Pipitone says.
You have to isolate for at least seven days if you’re a close contact but the Government’s restricted access to RATs to critical businesses so there’s no early way back.
“What a waste of human capital we’ve got by isolating people unnecessarily,” Auckland Chamber of Commerce CEO Michael Barnett says.
Auckland Chamber of Commerce was so concerned it sent a survey to small and medium businesses this week.
Of the thousand who responded, 41 percent had one person isolating, 9 percent had three to five and 6 percent had more.
“These are the ones getting absolutely punished and if this continues what we’ll see is the small, medium business economy in Auckland crippled,” Barnett says.
Meanwhile, 72 percent are at risk of closing and 96 percent would happily pay for their own RATs.
“It’s the disruption to businesses, it’s a disruption to family life and their ability to earn. The process right now is wrong,” Barnett says.
Business New Zealand says the Government’s treating Omicron like the Delta outbreak.
“Isolation periods need to be as short as possible, if at all, that’s what we’re seeing in other parts of the world as they have dealt with and managed through Omicron,” CEO of BusinessNZ Kirk Hope says.
“Because otherwise you have too much of the workforce isolating.”
And when RATs become more readily available many businesses hope the Government will enable them to be sold on the market.