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Auckland business leader warns of ongoing job losses, closures as Covid-19 restrictions continue

More jobs are expected to be lost and businesses to close in Auckland as a result of Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions, according to the Auckland Business Chamber.

Michael Barnett of the Auckland Business Chamber. Source: 1 NEWS

Today the Prime Minister announced Auckland will remain at Alert Level 2.5 for the time being, with a review to take play on September 14. The rest of New Zealnad will remain at Level 2.

A survey of around 800 businesses in the region over the past week reflected the fragility of the business community, especially for small and medium businesses and those in the food and beverage industry.

Chamber CEO Michael Barnett said only 29 per cent of businesses in the Auckland had been operating at 100 per cent over the past week. There were 26 per cent of businesses who reported operating at 75 per cent and another 21 per cent operating at 50 per cent.

The survey was based on the business' own perception of what "normal" is and included several factors including if they had to physically distance.

Meanwhile, Barnett said uncertainty over what the alert level criteria means was making it more difficult.

"I think the business perspective is today businesses would prefer to stay at Level 2 to be told what are the conditions to take us to Level 1."

He said the rules kept changing, especially with new criteria on "Level 2.5".

Instead, businesses would prefer to know how many days with no cases it would take to move down alert levels so they can know how they'll be impacted and prepare, he said.

However, the Chamber found that businesses with 20 or more employees reflected slightly better with 42 per cent operating at 100 per cent and 40 per cent at halved capacity.

"A lot of small and medium businesses don't have the same flexibility," Barnett said.

"Any business with food and beverages, restaurants have been hit the hardest."

In the survey, 69 per cent of businesses indicated they were in the process of restructuring, of which 83 per cent of indicated it would lead to less employees.

Barnett said the results were a strong indication that more job losses are yet to come as well as possible business closures, likely as businesses utilise technology and move online.

But none-the-less, Barnett said it will be a "significant weekend" for Auckland businesses out of Level 3 lockdown, particularly in the hospitality sector to "get back to a sense of normal".

When asked what his message to the public is, he said there was no need to encourage people to get out because most Aucklanders would already be looking forward to going out and supporting their local eateries in the good weather.