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Auckland CBD businesses hit hard by latest lockdown

The impact of the third lockdown for Auckland's inner city in a year is being widely felt by businesses.

Auckland's CBD Source: 1 NEWS

By Ella Stewart of rnz.co.nz

The city moved from Alert Level 3 to Alert Level 2 yesterday morning but whilst restaurants, shops and office buildings have flung open their doors, Aucklanders have stayed away with one business reporting not a single customer for two hours.

Friday afternoon would normally see Auckland's central city packed. But after a turbulent week for these city businesses the shops are empty despite the move to Alert Level 2.

Container store vendors on Elliot Street would normally be selling coffee, donuts and burgers. But lunchtime today resembled a ghost town.

"It's been really slow today especially because we've been open for almost two hours and we haven't had a customer yet, so business is not doing too good." said one Vendor worker.

Jonesy's hot doughnuts, also on Elliot Street, echoed the same concerns.

"Since lockdown it's been pretty quiet, before lockdowns we were doing quite good turnover, but after lockdown we've been getting about half the capacity.

"Even up at the Elliot stables we've noticed restaurants are gone and up for lease."

Kimchi Project is a popular eatery on High Street.

Cafe manager Charlie Lee said while under level 2 Aucklanders could be seated in cafes and restaurants, people had stayed away.

Source: 1 NEWS

"The customers are definitely a lot less than before, the city is pretty quiet, the street is pretty quiet as well."

Meanwhile, a convenience store owner just off Queen Street said desperate times meant he was struggling to pay his rent.

"For us it's a disaster to be honest, the city was totally empty. We lost 90 per cent of our usual income, even level 2 now is just the same. People took the whole week off." he said.

Heart of the city chief executive Viv Beck said although alert level 2 is significantly better than level 3 it still had its challenges as workers continued or chose to stay home.

"From prior experience of level 3 we know that our spending can drop by as much as 90 per cent for some businesses and that equates to on average about 23 million dollars a week in terms of core spending. Now there's other costs on top of that, people have lost stock and had variety of other cost to incur," Beck said.

"It's a very stressful situation for businesses that go from level 1 to level 3 just like that."

She had been meeting business owners all day to listen to their concerns and give support.

"It's certainly extremely difficult to be talking to businesses that are really on a wire right now, their reserves a very low and it's an extremely stressful situation.

"I just heard from somebody who is absolutely on the line, they've had ongoing impacts of Covid and also construction and really serious impacts. I've seen other restaurants trading at about half full and telling me they've got bookings over the weekend."

Beck had one message for Auckland customers.

"The businesses are open, they will follow the protocols around safety and we're really asking people to come back and enjoy the city centre"

With America's Cup racing resuming this weekend along with warm sunny weather, these inner-city businesses are hoping for a much-needed boost to their bank accounts.