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Alert Level Change On Sunday Welcomed But Border Issue Remains

The EMA welcomes the Government’s announcement of Auckland returning to Alert Level 2 at midnight this Sunday, August 30, but says border control issues will still be a major hurdle for businesses in the next six days.

Chief Executive Brett O’Riley says the rate of processing exemptions is unacceptable and with many being told it may take up to seven days, Alert Level 3 will be over by the time they get them.

"The shambles at the border began when documentation that was acceptable during the previous Alert Level 3 and Alert Level 4 was no longer acceptable, meaning people couldn’t get to work and goods couldn’t get through. That was followed by communication breakdowns that saw some getting through and some not."

He says that while many businesses will welcome the news of the move to Alert Level 2 at midnight on Sunday unfortunately for those in hospitality or retail social distancing rules inhibit trading.

The EMA and the BusinessNZ network have been working with the Government to solve the ongoing regional border issue, and Mr O’Riley says that if anything the return to Alert Level 3 has highlighted how crucial it is to be better prepared.

"The problems with the regional border will continue to have a major impact on businesses in the upper North Island, not just Auckland, until midnight Sunday and we must do better not only in the next six days, but in future," he says.

The EMA is keen to work with the Government on adapting the guidelines at each alert level, based on updated knowledge of COVID-19 and public health concerns, to make it clear for businesses what they are expected to do at each level if they wish to operate.

"We want to see businesses allowed to open as long as they meet those restrictions rather than a system of exemptions, and we want to see clear guidelines and timelines so that businesses can respond quickly to each change in alert level."

"But we also need Government agencies to respond in the same way to allow businesses to operate while keeping staff and customers safe."

For more information please see the EMA’s dedicated site covid19.ema.co.nz, call AdviceLine on 0800 300 362, or the Business Helpline on 0800 500 362.

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