Covid-19: Call for Aucklanders to return to offices after shift to alert level 1

An Auckland business association is calling for people to go back to working from their offices following a killer month in Covid-19 alert levels two and three.
Takapuna Beach Business Association chief executive Terence Harpur said the absence of office workers during Aucklands elevated alert levels had been felt by hospitality businesses throughout the region.

Working from home really hits our shops, restaurants and personal services. We now need everyone to come back to the office from Monday onwards, he said.

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Office buildings in Aucklands CBD, overlooking Takapuna and the Devonport peninsula. (File photo)

Our latest spending figures show level three, and even level two, have been an absolute killer over the past month.

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Total retail spend in Takapuna, one of the North Shores major business and office hotspots, was down 76.8 per cent for the week ending March 7, which included six days under alert level three, compared to the same week last year.

Retail spend was also down 48.3 per cent for the week ending February 21, when Auckland went into alert level three for three days.

It has been a really tough four weeks, with level two also very challenging for our smaller retailers, bars, cafes, and restaurants given [the] social distancing required and large gatherings prohibited, Harpur said.

Were now hoping for a bounce, but overall spending has been behind all summer, so were not taking anything for granted.

Harpur also called upon people to shop local, and encouraged employers to consider the impact of town centres when officer-based staff work from home.

Local businesses have never been happier to see you, and importantly shopping locally leaves a smaller carbon footprint.

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Auckland mayor Phil Goff reacts to Auckland's move to alert level 1.

Cellphone data from the past year suggested people were more likely to flock to the Takapuna town centre in alert level 1.

However, the night-time economy was quicker to recover compared to the day-time economy.

That again highlights the increasing prevalence of remote working and the impact of their day-time absence.

Car park occupancy in the area had also taken a tumble since the pandemic, meaning it was easier for people to find a park.

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Diners take their last chance at a restaurant in Takapuna before the lockdown commenced on February 14, 2021 in Auckland. (File photo)

Stuff spoke to several restaurants in Takapuna, who have noticed an uptick in business since Aucklands return to alert level 1 as of midday on Friday.

Tok Tok Kitchens staff anggota Au Nguyen said Friday evening was busy after the alert level drop. She said they have bookings this weekend and are expecting to increase staff numbers in preparation for next week.

Burger Burger Takapunas manager Akshul Khanijo said business picked up a little on Friday, but said the evening was not great. He said he is not 100 per cent sure that customer flow will bounce back next week, but remains hopeful.

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An empty Takapuna bar before the lockdown commenced on February 14, 2021 in Auckland. (File photo)

Meanwhile, a Twitter post by Auckland Mayor Phil Goff showed empty take-away rubbish littered around the Britomart train station on Friday evening, as Aucklanders return downtown on the citys first weekend night back at alert level one.

Epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker said it is reasonable for people to resume their normal routines of going to work and school at level 1.

However, he said people should not behave like theres no problem at alert level 1 and be mindful of how easy Covid-19 transmission can happen indoors.

Baker adds that there should be more discussions and refined guidelines on what behaviours are appropriate in settings with heightened risks, such as indoor environments.


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