A $2.3m Pandemic Response Plan aims to help Wellington businesses struggling under Covid restrictions and ongoing protests – should other councils follow suit?
The plan includes:
- $1 weekend parking
- fourth quarter rates deferral for hospitality and retail businesses who own their building without penalty for six months
- free outdoor dining permits
- extension of parking time limits
- a significant reduction in licencing fees.
Councillors also supported an investigation into how the City growth and Destination Wellington funds can be bolstered and targeted to support businesses during this challenging time.
“The city’s retail, hospitality, and arts sectors have been forced to manage through two years of the pandemic and now Omicron. This situation has cast the daily threat of business closure, and loss of jobs across the entire city but especially in the CBD,” says Mayor Andy Foster.
The ongoing protest there was also only making things worse for local businesses and schools, limiting ability to move about the city freely.
“It’s causing anger and frustration in our community. This is on top of an already incredibly tough time for business owners, many of whom after two years of the pandemic have no reserves left to make it beyond a few weeks.
“The red traffic light setting, working from home, and the anti-vaccine mandate protest have led to a drop in turnover for many businesses of 35 percent, with others reporting a 70 – 80 percent drop in revenue.
“We are now living in a shadow lockdown despite the reality being that our cafes, exhibitions, and shops are open, staffed, and ready to serve.”
The adoption of Council’s Pandemic Response Plan will help struggling businesses get through and preserve the city’s vitality, he says.
“The Council’s initiatives, when combined with the Government’s new financial support package and the anticipated targeted support package for Wellington, will hopefully create a strong enough platform for businesses to continue in the current environment, with headroom to enjoy what I believe will be an economic upswing as we emerge from Omicron,” says Mayor Foster.