The COVID Protection Framework and boosted financial support will ease some of the pain for businesses, including hospitality and tourism operators, business leaders say.
It comes after the Government announced its new COVID Protection Framework on Friday, under which a new 'traffic light system' with green, orange and red settings will replace the current alert level system. It will be deployed based on vaccination rates, for which the Government has set a 90 percent target.
Under 'red', hospitality businesses can open to up to 100 fully vaccinated people, as long as they're seated and separated by a 1-metre distance.
Following Friday's update, Restaurant Association chief executive Marisa Bidois said easing of restrictions in-line with vaccination rates is "welcome relief" for anxious hospitality business owners, including those in Auckland.
"This new framework allows our businesses to start planning with some certainty," Bidois said.
The industry supports a 'no vaccine, no entry' rule - but awaits the finer details on how businesses will ask for and administer proof of vaccination.
"There will no doubt be some finer points of the framework to go through to understand their practical application and we look forward to doing that with the Government in the days and weeks ahead," Bidois added.
Until Auckland moves under the COVID Protection Framework, businesses can get more financial support. Finance Minister Grant Robertson confirmed on Friday the COVID-19 Resurgence Support Payment will double - and will be paid fortnightly instead of every three weeks. There's also money available for advice and planning, as well as mental health support.
"The mental health of business owners is certainly something that we’ve seen suffer over the last 18 months and so any additional support is welcome," Bidois added.
Business NZ chief executive Kirk Hope said as the doubled Resurgence Support Payment provides "significant additional support" for businesses, it will "ease some of the pain" of months of lockdown.
Advice, planning support and access to mental health resources will help businesses adapt and grow, providing an "important supporting step" out of COVID-19, he said.
"From a strategic perspective, if they weren't online before how they get online, what would they need to do to operate differently [and] where new markets are," Hope added.
But for certain sectors, such as tourism, there is a need for targeted financial support.
"The domestic tourism sector heavily relies on Aucklanders being able to move around...not only is it impacted internationally, it's also impacted domestically."
The COVID-19 Resurgence Support Payment will double from November 12, Robertson said on Friday. The payment will be $3000 and eligible businesses will receive $800 for each full-time employee (up to 50), making up a maximum fortnightly payment of $43,000.
Businesses can also apply for up to $3000 to use for advice and planning support - and up to $4000 to implement that advice. Under a new programme to be delivered by EMA and Auckland Business Chamber of Commerce, money will also be available for mental health support, Robertson said.
Those supports will be available until vaccination targets are reached, Ministry of Health's figures on Friday showing 86 percent of the eligible population have received one dose - and 69 percent have received a second dose. A list of vaccinations by DHB can be found here.
Applications for the fifth COVID-19 wage subsidy remain open until October 28.
As Friday marks day 66 of lockdown for Auckland, the COVID Protection Framework allows hospitality businesses - currently able to open for contactless takeaways - to start planning, while those who are vaccinated can set their sights on being able to dine out.