Firms prepare for Level 3 trade

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Businesses across Central Otago and the Lakes districts are spending this week working how to operate under the Covid-19 Alert Level 3 restrictions that will begin at 11.59pm on Monday.

Reporter Simon Henderson speaks to business owners who share some of their plans, and while most are grateful for some lessening of lockdown restrictions, all agree the country has some way to go before it is business as normal.

McLellans Plumbing & Heating owner Rory McLellan has proceedures in place for operating under Alert Level 3.
He said his business had been open for essential plumbing and gas work, and he had put a roster of workers on during the lockdown.
‘‘So we have two guys doing the plumbing and two doing the gas every day,’’ Mr McLellan said.
‘‘That gives everybody a bit of time out of the house, but just making sure we don’t get any one person sick.’’
Moving to Level 3 would still require social distancing and he had procedures in place to ensure his staff were safe.
The firm’s showroom would remain closed but it had an online site providing heating supplies. ‘‘We’ve still been trying to get everyone’s heating up and going for them while they are at home.’’

Central Appliance Plus owner John Feron, of Alexandra, said he had been able to retain two staff by taking advantage of the Government wage subsidy.
‘‘At the moment they are still employed and hopefully they can stay that way,’’ Mr Feron said
During the Level 4 lockdown he and his wife Denise had processed orders for a small number of essential items they had been able to sell.
‘‘We’ve been lucky of course that we’ve been an essential item supplier, so we’ve been able to do a little bit of business online and orders over the phone.’’
That was less than 10% of their business, but was ‘‘better than nothing’’, he said.
‘‘Moving to alert Level 3 really doesn’t make any difference other than we can sell a slightly broader range of products.’’
The couple still would not be able to open their retail store but they had been able to add a click-and-collect option for a wider range of items.
Mr Feron supported the Government’s cautious approach and encouraged people to — when retail shopping could safely start again — ‘‘come and spend and keep it local, and look after their local communities’’.
‘‘That’s all we can hope for.’’

Central Otago Electrical director Shane Harrex said the business had been able to retain 12 staff because of the Government wage subsidy.
Moving to Alert Level 3 would enable it to offer more services but it would still hinge on what could be done safely, he said.

Taking care of business during the Covid-19 Alert Level 4 restrictions has been difficult for Janet Brown Furniture and Tussocks Homeware owner Anna Young, of Wanaka.
She has not been able to open her retail store or conduct online trading during Level 4.
‘‘Our doors are completely closed,’’ Mrs Young said.
The business normally had about five to six staff, which the Government wage subsidy scheme had enabled Mrs Young to keep employed while being ‘‘pretty much closed down’’.
At Alert Level 3 she would be able to offer online sales.
‘‘Tussocks Homeware has an online store, so we will start loading more products on to the store and start promoting.
‘‘We have also started promoting that we will offer free delivery within the Wanaka area, so hopefully that encourages some locals to look online,’’ Mrs Young said.
She was in contact with other local retailers and said they were supporting each other.
‘‘We are all in the same boat.’’
Her concern was to ensure her staff and their friends and families were safe, and while she recognised it was going to take a long time for retail to return to normal, she believed the Government was doing the right thing by putting the health of the country first.