Friday, 07 August 2020


A clear message to the government and the people of Mercury Bay

How do local businessowners feel about the Covid-19 lockdown, what are their thoughts on life in Mercury Bay after the lockdown has ended and what can be done to ensure that we, as a community, recover from the pandemic with as little economic damage as possible? Thank you to all the businessowners who were happy to share their thoughts with us during the course of the past week or so.

All businessowners agree that the lockdown was necessary. They also agree with the government’s alert level system, but some would prefer a longer complete lockdown at Alert Level 4, followed by restrictions immediately easing down to Alert Level 2. There is consensus that Alert Level 3 restrictions, when implemented, need to be clearly defined for businesses to know exactly what they are and aren’t allowed to do.

The views on whether the government understands the concerns of small businesses are mixed. The retail, tourism and hospitality sectors are concerned that the difficulties they will be facing once the lockdown has ended aren’t fully appreciated. There is nevertheless consensus that although the government’s wage subsidy scheme is of great help, it isn’t enough to ensure that all businesses that were in relatively good shape heading into the lockdown will survive the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Several forms of additional government support were proposed, including additional cash injections, tax relief, tariffs on overseas goods being purchased online, and campaigns to encourage domestic travel once possible.

Almost all businesses see cashflow as their major concern in the recovery period following the lockdown. It’s expected that a significant part of the local population will have less to spend or be inclined to hold more tightly onto their money in what is going to be an extended period of economic uncertainty. In the words of one businessowner, “The bank account will go down or the overdraft will go up.”

It’s generally expected that not all local businesses will survive the Covid-19 pandemic. Almost all businessowners who employ staff and operate from leased premises are bleeding money. Access to sufficient working capital in the form of savings, or overdraft and loan facilities are critical to survival. “The lockdown and difficult recovery will be an opportunity for marginal businesses to close their doors,” another businessowner said.

Some businessowners have already laid off staff. Several expect that they won’t have to let anyone go while others say the length of the lockdown and the pace of the recovery will determine how long they can hold onto the staff they currently employ.

Everyone sees a changed Mercury Bay business environment after the lockdown. International tourists will be absent for some time and some businesses will be doing things differently. There’s agreement that the local community has a major part to play in the way the Mercury Bay economy recovers. “Many people will be holding onto their money, but many will still have money to spend,” yet another businessowner said. “They please need to come out and spend with our local businesses. Their support is what’s going to get us through in the short term. Local businessowners and their staff also need to make an effort to support each other. Please stay away from buying things online.”

It’s expected that domestic tourism will play a large part in the longer-term recovery of the Mercury Bay economy. The effective marketing of the area as a highly desirable destination to the large population centres of Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga will be critical.

The businessowners who shared their thoughts with us don’t share the same views with each other in all instances. Given that they operate in a variety of industries, that’s to be expected. However, they all have the same clear message - the government needs to do more to help and more than ever, we, the people of Mercury Bay, will have to help. “Buy local” will no longer be a catchcry, it will be a cry that says, “We have to get through this together and we need you, we really need you.”

The government indicated at the Covid-19 press conference last Monday that this week will see more specific guidance on what will be allowed during Alert Level 3 and an announcement about further assistance for New Zealand businesses.

The Informer will be launching a major “Buy Local” initiative as soon as the current Covid-19 lockdown restrictions have been eased.


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The Mercury Bay Informer is a highly popular community newspaper, based in Whitianga. The paper is distributed throughout the Coromandel Peninsula, coast to coast from Thames to north of Colville.