Extricating and transitioning businesses and workers from Covid lockdown

Most of the Government focus over the last month has been on health aspects of the Covid-19 pandemic, and also making emergency business and employment funds available.

Director-General Of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield obviously has a health leaning when talking about (and making decisions about)  the likely extension of the lockdown, maintaining at least Level 3 restrictions for months if not the rest of the year and potentially more.

But business and employment is also critical – the longer most business and many jobs are shut down the harder and slower it will be to crank things up again, and also the more businesses and jobs will be lost permanently.

Former National MPs Bill English and Steven Joyce are starting to nudge for more consideration of business.

Newsroom: Awkward questions from the last crisis managers

While the Government has provided a range of financial support packages to help businesses get through the current lockdown, the uncertainty of how long they will be forced to remain closed is creating a growing level of angst, particularly among small to medium businesses, as owners begin to question their future livelihood and whether their businesses remain as going concerns.

The Government’s stance on certain non-essential businesses being unable to trade is being called into question by Joyce.

While he supports the lockdown in principle and the need to maintain public health, he questions why the Government hasn’t done more to establish a “middle ground” that would allow certain businesses to continue to trade.

“The Government has broader responsibilities beyond public health. I believe they need to start talking about how businesses can begin to transition out of the lockdown, even now, where certain businesses would be able to operate creating no greater risk to public health than currently exists,” Joyce told Newsroom in an interview.

He cites examples of online businesses with contactless delivery systems or even butcher shops adopting the one-in-one-out system that has been successfully used by diaries and pharmacies as ways this transition could begin to be managed without compromising the principles of the lockdown.

It makes sense that a part of the Government effort is towards urgently looking at how to safely get more businesses and workers back in action.

Joyce’s call follows similar remarks by former Prime Minister Sir Bill English in a private briefing to Jarden investors last week.

In a transcript of his remarks that has been widely circulated, English said the Government must start looking beyond the lockdown.

“What does this look like, and when might it be enacted? I understand medical experts would like to see the lockdown remain in place for 12-13 weeks. A lockdown of that duration has clear economic implications, meaning an exit strategy needs to be formulated,” English said.

English said one of the most important requirements for a Government in times like this was to listen.

“It is very important that the government develops a feedback loop to understand how policies land and adjust quickly, which means listening hard.”

If the Government is working on this (and they should be treating it with urgency) then they do more to communicate a viable plan to transition businesses and workers back to as close to normal as is reasonably safe.

As long as they leave options open to those people who are more vulnerable and more concerned about their household safety then there should be a clear plan to get as many people safely back to normal as quickly as possible.

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29 Comments

  1. David

     /  3rd April 2020

    The wage subsidy was for 12 weeks so maybe that was the plan all along, if so its a bit dishonest.

    Reply
    • Hard to guess what the thinking was there. It may have been based on a presumption that even with a 1 month lockdown the impact on business and employment would likely be three times as long.

      But it does suggest they anticipated longer then 4 weeks from the start.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  3rd April 2020

        I’d say more than anticipated; they were determined to force it on NZ.

        The PM can congratulate herself on singlehandedly eliminating all NZ’s journalism on the arts and current affairs in a single coup. Has this ever happened before ?

        Reply
        • Blazer

           /  3rd April 2020

          everyday you say dumb things….this actually plumbs new depths,even by your..standards.

          Reply
    • Blazer

       /  4th April 2020

      ‘It’s the latest bank to put numbers on the flood of customers thrown into financial turmoil by Government attempts to eradicate Covid-19.

      Across the big five banks the number of customers who have sought mortgage holidays now appears to be well over 30,000.

      “We have seen a huge increase in our customers contacting us needing additional support over this time, said spokeswoman Holly Ryan.’-Stuff.

      In a week.

      Reply
  2. Blazer

     /  3rd April 2020

    typical of English and Joyce…a career politician and a zoologist .
    They expect longer term answers for an exceptional circumstance that has no precedence in recent history.
    ‘listen’ is hardly a positive suggestion…what have they got?

    Reply
    • Pink David

       /  3rd April 2020

      “They expect longer term answers for an exceptional circumstance that has no precedence in recent history.”

      It’s the government that has initiated the ‘exceptional circumstance that has no precedence’. Perhaps they should have a plan?

      Reply
    • Gerrit

       /  5th April 2020

      If being a career politician is a bad thing…how many Labour MP’s are bad?

      Principal career politician in chief… Ardern, a career politician who has never (except to serve fish and chips) a real job. Nice career if you can get it $500,000 per year. Not bad.

      Reply
  3. A prediction New Zealand economy will bounce back quickly.

    A major credit rating agency says it expects New Zealand to bounce back from the economic squeeze caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

    Moody’s has reaffirmed the country’s top level triple-A credit rating, saying we have credible institutions, a very strong fiscal position, and an economy in good shape.

    Moodys expects severe pressures caused by the pandemic will cause a sharp, but temporary, economic slowdown.

    But it says it believes New Zealand is resilient to such shocks.

    https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/413330/live-covid-19-updates-from-new-zealand-and-around-the-world-on-3-april

    Reply
    • Ray

       /  3rd April 2020

      Well I am an optimist by nature, so thanks to our farming output keeping on and if we really knock this thing back in a month it should only be the equivalence of the yearly Xmas break.
      But that is ignoring how badly the rest of the World is hammered and you can forget about Tourism being a billion dollar earner for a long time.

      People have forgotten or refuse to acknowledge that when Michael Savage “saved” NZ after the Slump by opening the Government’s pocket, by 1939 the country was broke and the Worlds banks were refusing to lend to us.
      WW2 saved his and our bacon but at the cost of our boys lives, the bleating they made as they climbed up the ramps onto the ships was more the point than they could imagine.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  3rd April 2020

        Tell me more about Savage doing that.

        It certainly seems to have been glossed over.

        Reply
        • Ray

           /  3rd April 2020

          From Wikipedia
          “When Labour had come to power in December 1935 New Zealand’s reserves of sterling funds in London were £38 million.
          By November 1938 they had fallen to under £8 million and fear of further flight of capital from New Zealand and difficulties in negotiating overseas loans led to a serious exchange crisis.
          Nash returned to London in April 1939 to seek further loans and to reassure the British that New Zealand was not embarking on a major campaign of import controls and substitution that would damage British exports. British bankers and politicians were unimpressed, but offered assistance subject to very harsh terms.
          Nash went back to New Zealand, arriving home on 1 September – two days before New Zealand declared war on Germany.
          Within days the British government offered to buy New Zealand’s entire export of meat and dairy products. This gave New Zealand the bulk sales it had earlier been denied and as a result its sterling reserves quickly recovered.”

          And from Brian Easton
          “1939: Finance Minister Walter Nash was in London trying to borrow, partly to roll over previous loans, partly to pay for imports.
          The Secretary of the Treasury, Bernard Ashwin, wrote in his private diary: “I attended Cabinet daily while the cables [from London] were considered. Each day as the latest cable was read out, the first comment came from [Public Works Minister and no-nonsense trade unionist Bob] Semple – ‘Tell them to go to Hell’ – and most of the Cabinet were inclined to support that view.
          Each time I had the job of pointing out that we were not in a position to do that and of persuading them to approve a reasoned reply.”

          What Semple had not grasped is that although the Reserve Bank could supply unlimited quantities of New Zealand currency – though that may not be a good idea – the need was for foreign currency.

          Elsewhere in the diary Ashwin says that we might have had to “default”. (Today Greece is in a similar situation.)
          Fortunately, the UK realised it would soon be at war with Germany and needed our support; the required funds were grudgingly forthcoming.”

          Reply
    • Blazer

       /  3rd April 2020

      How reassuring from Moody’s, who rated so much paper AAA as the GFC hit and their ratings were exposed as …’just opinions’!!

      Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  3rd April 2020

      The Telegraph rated NZ as one of the five worst hit economies by the virus response.

      Reply
      • Pink David

         /  3rd April 2020

        All self inflicted.

        Reply
        • Blazer

           /  3rd April 2020

          Australia-‘Only last year Morrison was mocking Labor as a party of socialists – “their problem is they run out of other people’s money” – but his spending in 6weeks is more than double the Labor stimulus during the global financial crisis.

          Reply
          • Pink David

             /  3rd April 2020

            Australia is still working.

            Reply
            • Only partly working but gradually shutting down. Death toll now 25 so slowly increasing.

              WA are shutting their borders to everyone interstate.
              Queensland are mostly shutting (and otherwise roadblocking) their border with NSW.

  4. Maggy Wassilieff

     /  3rd April 2020

    Bauer will be pleased they departed NZ..

    They’re on a buying spree over in Aussie
    https://www.bandt.com.au/breaking-accc-approves-bauers-40-million-acquisition-of-rival-pac-mags/

    I’m sure our Dear PM is “gutted”

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  3rd April 2020

      worry not Maggy…the Australian wimmins weekly will still be…available.

      Reply
      • Maggy Wassilieff

         /  3rd April 2020

        Yep, Bauer can flood the magazine market with their Ozzie publications…
        and The Oz WW was always a better read than NZ’s fluff.

        Reply
  5. Alan Wilkinson

     /  3rd April 2020

    The fundamental flaw in the present strategy is that high-risk activity should be banned not non-essential however the government desperately attempts to define that.

    Non-essential is only conceivably justifiable as an interim measure while the country finds ways to mitigate risks in normal activities.

    It seems already clear that indoor sharing of air and surfaces is the major high risk. Let companies and individuals find solutions that work for their circumstances.

    Reply
  6. PartisanZ

     /  5th April 2020

    “Extricating and transitioning”?

    Seriously folks, these words are already far more applicable to all of economics – that sorcerous corporate-political elite-serving pseudo-science full of feelings and mystic articles of faith – than to “workers and businesses” …

    Which is not to mention “reinventing” and “renaming” … e.g. Socialism could become Socializationism – which is already happening anyway in “Privatize the profits, Socialize the costs” … ?

    Yep, and we’ll have to redefine ‘profits’ too! FWEE Market profits. What shall we call Four Wellbeings Ethical Economics ‘profits’? Co-profits? Abundance?

    I have a new name for the fundamental principle of it – “freesponsibility” = new word # 257 (I think?)

    Ka kite ano …

    – PartisanZ.

    Add Captain Corona (The Viral One) of SpaceForce to AI & Robotics in this video clip –

    Reply
    • PartisanZ

       /  5th April 2020

      Captain Corona (The Viral One) of SpaceForce is antagonist aka villain to Comrade Covid#19 of Earth-Energy-Collective’s protagonist, our heroine in the cartoon struggle of Shakespearean proportions engulfing the world.

      And, bizarrely, we know what the outcome must be. Not either/or this time. Not good or bad. One or t’other. Not Right or Wrong or Right or Left.

      No, Comrade Covid#19 must first heal then make love with Captain Corona (The Viral One) to produce – perhaps in as little as 9 months? – a healthy offspring, who may be christened Comrade Captain or perhaps Capitalism Plus?

      All the songs that nourished our youths are coming true! Some eerily so …

      “Something in the Air” … seriously!?

      Reply

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