Businesses ready to roll at Level 2

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Today people across the country woke up to the brighter prospect of living and working at Alert Level 2. The challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic have affected everyone and few would agree it was business as usual. Reporter Simon Henderson spoke to some local business operators looking forward to being one level closer to normal operations.

An Alexandra hairdresser says he missed the connection with clients during the Covid-19 lockdown.
‘‘As a stylist it has been really hard, because you are just missing the people contact,’’ Tu Meke Hairdressing owner Tim Riwhi said.

Mr Riwhi is one of the thousands of business owners who has been preparing for today’s move to Alert Level 2.
He had spent the past couple of days working through more than 150 emails and phone messages of people seeking appointments.
‘‘Part of our job is just relating with people and sharing everything, really.’’
He had been hairdressing for just under 30 years and the lockdown period had been a long time not cutting hair.
‘‘Three weeks is actually the longest I have had away from the salon on holiday.’’

He had been able to retain his seven staff members by taking advantage of the Covid-19 wage subsidy, but it had been challenging initially and he had been concerned for them as they experienced the stresses of the lockdown period. ‘‘Because they are not only employees, they become part of your family.’’

Although the lockdown had been difficult, Mr Riwhi was feeling positive as they opened for business at Alert Level 2. ‘‘We’ve got seven weeks’ worth of clients to ring up and schedule appointments.’’

Staff had completed a qualification on sterilising and sanitising practice in the hairdressing industry, and his two stores had been reconfigured to increase social distancing between hairdressing chairs. ‘‘So we are maintaining a really high level of hygiene and eliminating all the things that we can, to minimise any transfer of Covid-19.’’

Wanaka PowerSports manager Daniel Irwin said their store had been closed during Level 4 except for providing emergency services to essential businesses, ‘‘basically just helping farmers and vineyards’’.
At Level 3 they had been able to operate as a contactless business, taking orders over the phone and having bikes and parts delivered or picked up without people entering the store.
For Level 2 their motorbike showroom would be open but they were working to ‘‘mitigate risk’’ by sanitising surfaces and making a note of all who entered.
‘‘We know when people have been in the shop so if anything does happen, we can hand that on to the proper authorities and help with contact tracing.’’

Post Office Cafe and Bar owner Jackie Biemond said while her Clyde business was completely shut down during Alert Level 4, they had been able to retain all staff through the Covid-19 wage subsidy scheme.
During Level 3 they opened one of their windows and provided a takeaway menu, cabinet food and coffee.
Although it had been a ‘‘tough situation’’, Mrs Biemond said she thought the cafe ‘‘did really well’’.
‘‘A lot of the locals supported us.’’

For Level 2 the interior of the cafe had been rearranged to allow for social distancing.
‘‘We have plenty of room between each table.’’
Wait staff would keep to specific roles, one serving tables and one working behind the bar for the night.
The parameters for Level 2 were easy to understand, she said.
‘‘They are definitely doable.’’
There were still some challenges for the business, she said.
‘‘I am happy we are moving into Level 2 but it will be interesting.’’