A hospitality business owner in Auckland CBD is disheartened after a lacklustre first weekend under alert level 1.
Selash Kumar, the owner of the Seafood Kitchen at the high-end food court Elliott Stables, says business has not improved despite the Super City's shift to level 1 on Thursday.
Speaking to Newshub, Kumar pleaded with Aucklanders to support local businesses fighting for survival - and urged office staffers to stop working remotely and return to the city.
"Aucklanders need to help their own people... come out and visit the city, which is a beautiful place to spend time with family and friends and dine out, and enjoy the environment at certain venues around the CBD," he said.
"[Companies] need to help get their staff back to the office to help CBD businesses."
With one more week of election campaigning ahead, Kumar says political parties have promised little to Auckland's struggling small businesses affected by COVID-19. He says the sector feels forgotten, and is urging the Government to step up and provide more financial aid.
"We want to stay strong and be positive, but we need Government assistance. At this point I don't see any political parties saying anything about the COVID-affected businesses in Auckland CBD," he said.
"I think it's a disaster because as soon as the borders open, the tourists will be coming to a ghost town."
Without local and Government support, Kumar says job cuts are inevitable.
"If we don't come and support our own businesses, whatever the Government is saying - there will be no more jobs. To save these jobs and save ourselves, we need to help each other - come out and spend money and time, and do things as normal," he urged.
"Let's not step back - let's build the economy, let's build it together for a better country - for a better New Zealand."
Yet suburban strips appear to be getting a welcome boost, reaping the benefits as Aucklanders continue to work from home.
"People are working from home more and that means suburban shops and hospitality are getting a little bit of a boost. We have seen that in the data with consumer spending, CBD hospitality is down a bit more than the rest of Auckland," Sense Partners economist Shamubeel Eaqub told RNZ last week.
"Because a lot more people are staying at home, they're spending more time - the afternoons and lunchtimes - going to [local] cafes," said Avondale Business Association chair Marcus Amosa.
Back in March - prior to New Zealand's first nationwide lockdown - the Government announced a wage subsidy programme for all businesses that could prove a 30 percent decline in revenue due to the impacts of COVID-19. It paid $585.80 per week for full time staff and $350 for part time staff, providing a critical lifeline for many employers.
Between then and June - after being slightly tweaked to remove a $150,000 cap per business - the subsidy supported 396,751 businesses or 1.65 million jobs, costing $10.94 billion. An extension for the most severely impacted businesses was subsequently made available for an additional eight weeks, supporting hundreds of thousands of employees.
September 3 marked the final day that businesses could apply for the subsidy.