Devastated café owner says business not eligible for COVID financial support despite 'bleeding and hemorrhaging' money

The director of an Auckland hospitality chain says COVID restrictions and a lack of effective support are putting their businesses at severe risk.

Hannah Reid, the director of Auckland smoothie bowl café  Bowl & Arrow, says the COVID support package only helps employees, not the owner.

She told AM the Government is making it tough to navigate the pandemic as a small business. 

Reid says business owners feel abandoned, frustrated and many want to give up.

"It's frustrating because the Government has given out all these support packages, to begin with, but it's kind of like we're getting dropped at the end of a hat at this very last hurdle when we need it most."

The Government on Monday announced a targeted support scheme for businesses in the face of Omicron. Firms that can prove a 40 percent drop in revenue over a week are eligible for $4000 per business plus $400 per full-time employee. 

Payments are capped at 50 employees or $24,000.

Reid employs 26 staff members across her three cafés - six of whom are currently off work due to being close contacts of COVID-19 cases. She said they would be forced to close their doors if they lose any more staff members.

"Obviously we're grateful for the package that has come out but… we're actually only 30 percent down at the moment so we can't even qualify for this package anyway - but of course, if all our stores close then we will qualify, but that's not the goal here - we don't want to be closing our stores just to get support."

Reid said her business was "bleeding and hemorrhaging" money.  

"It's very, very tough and I don't really know what the future holds for us if we don't get this extra support."

Reid said the current situation for her business was the worst of the whole pandemic. 

She's calling on the Government to scrap close contact rules - where people who come into contact with COVID-19 cases must isolate for seven days.

"It's just ruining our staffing issues."

Reid said the financial support also could have come a lot sooner.

Her message to Finance Minister Grant Robertson? "You've made it quite tough so we're ready for some extra support."

Robertson hinted on Tuesday New Zealand wasn't far away from transitioning to phase three of the Government's Omicron plan, which will change the definition of close contacts to only people in the same household as a positive case.  

"We said around 5000 cases a day was where the trigger point for that would be," Robertson said. "We know cases are doubling every three or four days."

There were 2846 COVID cases reported on Tuesday - 1802 of which were in Auckland.