Monday, 20 April 2020

Small businesses need flexibility and clarity

“The Prime Minister needs to offer small businesses greater flexibility and provide more clarity about Alert Level 3 rules”, says ACT’s Deputy Leader Beth Houlbrooke.

“The Government says that it will move from an ‘essential’ to a ‘safety’ approach. This is the right decision, but it must follow through. Many retailers who would be able to operate safely at Alert Level 3 will not be given the opportunity to do so.

“The Alert Level 3 rules say it’s acceptable for a supermarket to have fifty customers inside at one time, but butchers, bakers and greengrocers can’t open on a ‘one in, one out’ basis. This is illogical.

“What public health analysis has the Government done to come to the conclusion that these retailers can’t open if the risks can be managed?

“Despite a new ‘principles-based approach’, there are still arbitrary decisions being made.

“The Government must give retailers, particularly those in the food sector, the opportunity to operate in the same way dairies and pharmacies are allowed to.

“There is still significant confusion about the Alert Level 3 rules and the Government must provide more detailed information for individual sectors.

“The advice says retail and hospitality businesses can open for delivery and contactless pre-ordered pick up, but, at the same time, people must remain in their bubbles except to do essential activities.

“Why would small businesses take on the significant costs of reopening and COVID-proofing themselves if they won’t have any customers?

“Without greater flexibility and certainty on Alert Level 3 rules, businesses that could operate safely will fold and jobs will be needlessly lost.

“COVID-19 has presented the Government with significant challenges, but decisions about businesses have at times been confusing, arbitrary and unfair. This cannot be allowed to continue.

“We need businesses and the economy to bounce back as quickly as possible. One way to achieve this is with greater flexibility and clear guidance to each sector of the economy on who is able to open and what the rules will be.”