Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Business under ‘huge pressure’, seek vaccine mandate

Lockdown-ravaged businesses are pushing harder for vaccination mandates for workers now the Government has introduced a “no jab, no job” rule for education and health workers.

Retail NZ chief executive Greg Harford said businesses are under huge pressure and many retail business owners will be disappointed with no progress toward the next phase of the Auckland Roadmap this week.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed Auckland will remain at the current step 1 of alert level 3 and the Cabinet will decide whether to move the city to the second stage of the three steps in alert level 3 next week.

Schools in Auckland will not reopen on October 18 meaning distanced learning will recommence in term 4.

Waikato and Northland will remain at alert level 3 until 11.59pm on Thursday.

“Retail NZ hopes that Northland and Waikato will move back to alert level 2 on Thursday as scheduled,” Harford said.

“Businesses are under huge pressure, and the lack of progress shows how critical it is to get everyone vaccinated.

“Businesses urgently need action from the Government so they can introduce vaccination requirements or other actions in their business without running the risk of a personal grievance by disgruntled or anti-vaxxer employees.

“We also need to see a target date from Government for everyone to be vaccinated.This should happen immediately,” Harford said.

Last Monday Ardern introduced a three-step plan to transition “safely and carefully” over the coming weeks.

Then she said the wage subsidy payments would continue while Auckland was at any stage of level 3.

Auckland Chamber of Business chief executive Michael Barnett said mandatory vaccination for education, health workers and associate services is an important principle that should also hold for all workplaces striving to keep their employees and customers safe and healthy.

“If no jab no job is to be the rule for selected people-facing services by Government order then it certainly is a principle that business owners would welcome also by Government order as well as enabling urgent access to rapid testing technologies to better manage and reduce risks.”

Barnett said it was extremely disappointing that Auckland remains in a holding pattern with no easing of any restrictions as the virus sets the pace and leaks continue at the border.

Heart of the City chief executive Viv Beck said with growing case numbers and a rush to get vaccination numbers up, there are a lot of issues including mental health crises.

The Government need to focus on getting the vaccination rates up faster and not just focusing on “one or two sectors at a time”, she said.

“This is like Waiting for Godot. Many businesses are on the brink and every single day counts so we can’t just focus on one job at a time.

“There is also a growing mental health crisis that as yet is unquantified and unreported.

“Business and sector groups are broadly aligned on what needs to happen to address this growing crisis and we need to urgently galvanise this into one plan, working directly with government and officials to ensure both health and economic needs are met,” she said.

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