COVID-19: Fears for hospitality job safety amid Auckland coronavirus lockdown

There are fears about job safety in the hospitality sector with the sudden changes in COVID-19 alert levels forcing many to shut up shop.

Auckland was placed in alert level 3 for a period of at least 72 hours on Sunday night, forcing cafes, bars and restaurants to close. 

Industry leaders say many of those businesses were still recovering from Auckland's last COVID-19 lockdown in August.

Hospitality New Zealand chief executive Julie White told The AM Show the sector is losing money it will never get back.

"The lockdown's not 72 hours for us - we've had an immediate wash of bookings, millions of dollars, have literally been thrown out the window."

She said there needs to be more support from the Government and is urging them to follow Australia's lead. Some Australian states have handed out vouchers to the public in an effort to boost spending in the hospitality sector. 

"Tasmania even did a $200 voucher so you could go and stay anywhere or eat or drink anywhere," White said.

"Victoria's done the same - it's not hard, it's just whether the Government is willing to step up and acknowledge that we have been affected.

"I know a lot [of businesses] are holding on for dear life. It's lockdowns like this which will be the last straw."

Economist Cameron Bagrie said the Auckland lockdown will be manageable - but only for a few days.

"What's going to be the economic hit to Auckland? In GDP terms - it's around $40 million a day at alert level 3 [and] another $40 million per day at alert level 2 for the rest of the country," he told The AM Show.

In terms of Government financial support, it will only kick in if the lockdown reaches a week. Businesses will be able to access a resurgence support payment - $1500 per business and $400 extra per employee - if they have a 30 percent drop in revenue. The maximum a business can access is $21,500.

The COVID-19 wage subsidy will also be redeployed if alert level 3 lasts more than a week.

"In a situation where we tip into restrictions that take us past seven days, that's when we tick in the business supports and they're retrospective so they get essentially back paid," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday.

But White is adamant the industry needs a targeted package.

"The Government has a responsibility to balance the health crisis with the economic crisis," she said.

"Not all sectors are equally being affected, so this is the time that they need to actually acknowledge that - go and help the industries that really need the help."