The three largest business groups in New Zealand are calling on the government to ease Auckland border regulations, following news the Prime Minister ruled the changes wouldn’t be revised.
PM Jacinda Ardern announced on Thursday that when Cabinet makes a decision whether to lower the alert level in Auckland on Monday, the removal of the borders to the north and south of the city will not be considered.
Ardern stated: "At the moment, we do have control of the outbreak, but we do have an outbreak, so we will continue to assess the role of the boundary as we go.
"But at the moment it is not one of the things I expect to be lifted on Monday."
The chief executives of Business NZ, the Auckland Business Chamber and the Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA) said in a statement that closed borders were "not an option under reduced Auckland alert level".
All three groups suggested keeping the border but permitting more movement, with the help of vaccination proof and suitable testing, reports the New Zealand Herald.
Auckland Business Chamber CEO Michael Barnett said Auckland’s businesses were doing everything possible to try to operate safely.
"Our reward is to hear through a press conference that we'll stay locked up. That is a devastating blow for many. It's equally disappointing to hear that Monday's announcement on alert levels and the border could be made with little no input or consultation from businesses and organisations in Auckland.
"Continuing to grant exemptions to cherry-picked sectors just isn't an option any longer. The most likely outcome of that approach is encouraging non-compliance from those other sectors that miss out."
EMA chief executive Brett O'Riley added that making being vaccinated a requirement to cross the border could act as an incentive to boost the vaccine rollout.
"It would also be a great incentive scheme to allow travel across the border in the school holidays if families could show proof of vaccination," he said.
"What we're hearing indicates the Ministry of Health has too much sway in what is being proposed with limited regard to the mental wellbeing of business owners and their workers, or the economic and community chaos the ongoing lockdowns will cause in the region and beyond."
Whereas BusinessNZ CEO Kirk Hope said Aucklanders being stuck in the city would be felt across New Zealand.
"Many businesses throughout the country in lower alert levels are still unable to operate at capacity because they can't source critical materials, components, stock or people from Auckland.
"Having Aucklanders able to move around the region and the country is critical to the ongoing viability of many struggling businesses," he said.
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