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EMA Echoes Calls For More Input Into Future Management Of COVID-19

Calls by senior business leaders for more openness and cooperation around the Government’s plan for the ongoing management of COVID-19 are strongly supported by the EMA.

Chief Executive Brett O’Riley says business owners are being crippled by increasing pressure and costs from the ongoing series of lockdowns.

"While the government and various agencies have acted quickly to support both employers and employees in the most recent rapid lockdowns, the pressure mounts on both of those groups as each successive lockdown is doing more damage to already struggling businesses and their employees," he says.

"Many of our smaller businesses are just hanging on and reaching the end of their capability to continue supporting their staff and their own operations. The vast majority of business owners, supported by their staff, have gone out of their way to try everything they can to keep people in work."

However, Mr O’Riley says that may not last much longer as more tough decisions loom.

"It’s great to see the major businesses in our community recognising the strain on the SME sector and showing their willingness to add support and resources to assist the Government in managing the ongoing, long-term challenges presented by COVID-19.

"The Government should accept that offer with alacrity and begin sharing its plans for the future management of the pandemic."

Mr O’Riley says concerns raised about a lack of engagement and willingness to share information were valid in some cases, while other Government agencies had responded well to input around the lockdowns.

"We’ve seen noticeably faster and improved systems of rolling out checkpoints and offering business assistance in the last two lockdowns but asking workplaces - particularly small businesses and their people - to continue to bear the brunt of lockdowns is not a sustainable long-term solution to managing COVID-19 in our communities."

"We’d urge Government and the various ministries involved in managing the pandemic to accept and work with all the resources, technology and expertise available to them from any sector," he says.

For more information on COVID-19 in relation to business 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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