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You have 30 min to get your business in order!

Written By: - Date published: 12:50 pm, March 12th, 2021 - 77 comments
Categories: auckland supercity, business, Economy, leadership, Politics, rumour, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, tourism - Tags: , ,

The good news is that Auckland has moved to Alert Level 1 at midday. It was to be expected, as there had not been any new cases detected in the community for a week [Correction: it has been 14 days since the last community case]. The weather is great and people will want to make the most of it.

The not so good news is that Cabinet had made the decision last night. However, they wanted to wait for the overnight test results to come in before they announced the decision. Now, as far as I know, these overnight results are in by 9.00 AM. Thus, they could have and should have announced the decision then or shortly after and not waited until the PM’s scheduled press conference at 11.30 AM.

Businesses now had and have an extremely short notice to prepare for the lunch crowds and to prepare for the Friday after-work siege let alone prepare for the dinner crowd tonight. Maybe they can quickly rock up to Pak’nSave and buy some fresh fruit and vegetables to quickly whip up a salad or so; tomatoes are dirt-cheap. We know from previous short notices that people can adapt quickly and load up the car to drive off to the bach or holiday home within an hour late at night or very early in the morning, if must be, to avoid the road blocks. For businesses, schools, and universities, for example, these things are not so simple. And the Government knows that!

I don’t think it was fair or realistic to give only 30 min warning.

I reckon there will be a lot of traffic in and out of Auckland tonight and this weekend. But I cannot shake the feeling that they have let down the Team of 1.5 Million. If they want people to take the Alert Levels seriously and stick to the rules, you do not create a situation in which people are more likely to relax or break the rules, next time.

This was poorly handled, in my opinion. Must do better next time.

77 comments on “You have 30 min to get your business in order! ”

    • Incognito 1.1

      Yeah, nah. He was just fishing.

      • mickysavage 1.1.1

        Giving the timing it seemed clear to me that the overnight results were crucial. Clarke was not leaking information, he was tweeting the obvious.

        • Incognito 1.1.1.1

          Sure, I can follow that reasoning, although it was poorly explained why they were so crucial that we had to wait until 11:30 AM the next morning. Hypothetically, what kind of overnight test result would have turned the decision on its head? One close contact testing positive? A few? I know this is actually impossible to answer but it seems that the likelihood of that happening at such a late stage in the incubation cycle was low, in my view. Some people realised this, perhaps at a sub-conscious level, and started to act & behave as if we were already at AL1. This unnecessarily blurred the line between AL2 and AL1 and weakens the whole AL system in terms of compliance by the majority of people. In many ways, the AL system relies on a herd effect too, i.e. if most people follow the rules and do the right thing(s) then all of us will be reasonably well protected.

          I’m completely ambivalent about Clarke’s tweet and didn’t refer to it in the OP. What I meant with my light-hearted comment @ 1.1 was that Clarke was just being Clarke and nothing else was going on despite the high levels of paranoia and suspicions in some quarters. In other words, Clarke’s tweet was a red herring.

    • Jimmy 1.2

      A bit silly of Clarke to tweet that in my opinion. I think PM partners should stay out of the politics. I can't remember Bronagh Key or Peter Davis tweeting getting involved.

  1. Janet 2

    The odds were that the level would go down. I would have planned with that in mind . I appreciate the caution and care those managing this covid situation are undertaking. Thank you guys .

    • Incognito 2.1

      Alert levels usually change at midnight with at least a few hours’ notice. How would have planned for it?

      • woodart 2.1.1

        as someone who HAS had a cafe(not just a sideline expert<I actually had skin in the game), times like this(shit it has been a year, if your business has NOT learnt by now you never will), means you need to be able to change plans, change menus etc, keep staff on side, not just whinge constantly. you go away from having $6 million of fresh oysters(ffs,how stupid), and go to a mostly quickly thawed menu(only whingeing customers would mind). and keep bidfoods on speed-dial for quick deliveries. its no different than running the same business and suddenly having an unexpected bus load of hungry customers walk in the door(yes, that happened, but instead of whingeing , was honest and upfront and customers stayed, ate what we could provide, paid and were very grateful). if incognito is so needy and lacks any ability to quickly change menu's, entertainment, staffing etc, better to stick with a static business ,hairdresser, shoe salesman etc.. by there very nature ,food service businesses need to be flexible(power cuts , sudden unavailability of certain foods, road accidents cutting off customer access(yes, that also happened) etc. at times ,thirty minutes was way more notice that we had.

        • Incognito 2.1.1.1

          Thank you for your valuable professional opinion and advice. I’ll take some Yoga for Business classes on Monday because they were closed this arvo; not flexible enough.

          It appears that for some here it is a fine line between criticism and whinging 🙁

          • Drowsy M. Kram 2.1.1.1.1

            Criticism can be constructive – whingeing/whining not so much. Imho the post reads like a (legitimate) complaint from someone with "skin in the game", or who knows someone who has.

            Covid-19: Jacinda Ardern denies announcement delay on Auckland alert levels, arguing Thursday's Cabinet decision was only 'preliminary'
            National leader Judith Collins criticised the delay, tweeting last night, “Cabinet decision made about lifting the Auckland lockdown. But we are not allowed to know what the decision is until tomorrow – to fit into the PM’s scheduled press conference. Not good enough”.

            Containing the COVID-19 threat is a logistical nightmare, and she's a hard road finding the perfect pandemic response. Still, no hurry eh? smiley

            • Incognito 2.1.1.1.1.1

              Communication is a most-critical component of the pandemic response. Get it right, people will trust and comply. Get it slightly right, some people will start to be confused and become complacent and/or make ‘errors of judgement’. This is really the main message of the OP.

              • Drowsy M. Kram

                Effective COVID communications will ensure a higher level of public trust and compliance. That the latest communication is (only) "slightly right" might be due to confusion, complacency, fatigue or a simple 'error of judgement', but whatever the reason our Government must (always) up its game – that's the mad business of politics.

                It would certainly be regrettable if doubts about our Government's ability to manage the pandemic response gained more of a foothold, and started peeling off members of the team of nearly five million, just when the 'vaccine finishing line' is in sight. Hopefully the OP will help to combat political and public 'COVID complacency'.

          • woodart 2.1.1.1.2

            if you were serious about yoga for business ,and not just trying to have the last word, you would go watch a u-tube video on yoga. much easier to be a whinger though eh?one question for you, is your whinge your idea, or are you being someone elses tool?

            • Incognito 2.1.1.1.2.1

              What makes you think that I might be “someone elses tool”? Am I not allowed to form my own independent opinion? Do you think that I need somebody else to tell me what to think and what to write here on TS? Or do you think I’m getting paid for it? If so, maybe you’ve been reading too much into DP …

              You, on the other hand, seem to have no more arguments left and you are now taking aim at the messenger/author at a personal level. You’re straying into dangerous territory if that’s the case.

              It is ok to disagree, and I welcome it with well laid out arguments. However, if you can only bring ad homs to the table, I strongly suggest you butt out of this post before I do it for you.

              PS, I don’t need to have the last word, but this is my post and I was trying some light humour 🙂

              • woodart

                why can my question NOT be serious? I am truly interested in whether your column was your idea, or are you jumping on someone elses bandwagon. in these days of finding molehills and creating mountains out of them, it is most iluminating to go right to the source of these supposed problems, mistakes, miscalculations, etc. as someone with prior knowledge at the coalface(light humour) of the industry, I have taken some (many) of your assertions to task, and have had shade thrown, sarcasm etc in return. now ,you are threatening to kick me out of your personal sandpit. I notice that I am not the only one here to call you out. food for thought(now, THAT is light humour)

                • Incognito

                  Sigh

                  Like all other Authors here I write on my own accord.

                  There are no bandwagons for me to jump on; I dislike bumper stickers and car radios that are turned up too loud with too much base and really crap ‘music’ just to make a point about the so-called ‘identity’ of the drivers, stupid gits.

                  I wasn’t cuddled enough when I was a baby and the dog ate my favourite cuddly toy, which explains everything, since you asked and you must know, but the pills help to numb the pain, thank you for asking.

                  You seem to be missing the main message of the OP and getting bogged down in technical trivia about how to run a business – as if all businesses are the same. I don’t give a toss about that and you’re tilting at windmills.

                  There are plenty of articles today about Auckland businesses that span a range of views about the timing of today’s yesterday’s decision from various business sectors. Look them up yourself and wave your finger at the whinging ones if that makes you feel better.

                  Lastly, I wrote the post to encourage robust debate and fully expected (and hoped!) that people would disagree with my opinion and call me out with strong arguments. However, you decided to have a go at me and cast doubt on my motivations. That’s crossing a line, which you don’t need to think about but instead you should read this site’s Policy.

              • Anne

                Humour, especially tongue in cheek humour, is frowned upon by some here Incognito. Personal experience.

                I agree with you – and that's coming from a hard wired Labour supporter. The excuse is that each time there is a level change, there are legals which must be sorted in advance.

                I say bugger the legals. Tell the populace and then sort them legals afterwards. The pedancy or is it pedancity – or is it neither – (who cares except In Vino 😉 ) of the legal profession can be a pain in the neck.

  2. Paul Campbell 3

    The difference between level 1 and level 2 is pretty minimal – more than 100 people at events (no one is going to fill a stadium in 24 hours much less 30 minutes) and the rules for servers in restaurants change in ways that can be changed in 30 seconds – I'm not sure what the issue is.

    It sounds like they were waiting for yesterday's track/trace/testing info to come in before making the change, previously they had given a day's warning and everyone complained that that was too long, now they're complaining because 30 minutes is too short – I don't believe there's any amount of warning they can give without there being whinging

  3. Muttonbird 4

    All could have been avoided if people didn't lie to, and ignore requests from, health authorities.

  4. Pat 5

    I suspect they didnt want the public to behave as if the levels had already dropped once it was announced….it was a typical problem previously that as soon as they announced a level drop was coming in the next few days people behaved as if the level had already dropped…that carries risk.

    • Incognito 5.1

      Exactly! So, you pre-empt this by timing of communication. It’s all in the timing, mostly. They would have known by 9:00 AM this morning so why wait until 11:30 AM? Notwithstanding rumours and ‘leaks’ making it hard to contain certain info and certain behaviours. It was a fail, IMO.

      • McFlock 5.1.1

        I'm not sure I agree with that opinion.

        What material difference does the worst-case two and a half hour delay result in?

        Cafes and pubs slightly understocked? I almost suggested "understaffed", but hospo is rife for unpredictable shift changes anyway – business as usual for managers to call in people for extra shifts (or send them home if things are quiet).

        Sure, hospo owners will be wanting to maximise business while they can, but that's up to the customers. And yes, the occasional run to New World might happen, but it's a run they didn't expect to make the day before.

        • Incognito 5.1.1.1

          No worries. Disagreement is healthy and constructive, in the right hands.

          The industry is under pressure as it is and margins are tighter than ever. Little things can help or even be the make-or-break point. These times are not BAU but some former business owners think that the Business-101 textbook still can and must be followed to the letter.

          • McFlock 5.1.1.1.1

            If they were going to go under because they missed out on half their custom for today's lunch rush, they should probably have wound up last week if not earlier.

            • Incognito 5.1.1.1.1.1

              Death by a thousand cuts, mostly because of and during lockdowns. In this industry, businesses go under all the time, that is true.

              • McFlock

                Yeah, but if you're running your business that close to the wire, it's a gambling addiction. And there's a good chance you'll take the unpaid staff and creditors down with you.

                Theatre is the same. You wind it up when you can still pay everyone out, which means you need to be doing the sums and massive changes months before. If continued existence is down to one show or even run, fate is running your enterprise, not you.

                • Incognito

                  All true. I believe quite a few businesses are actually ‘under water’ but gambling that things will pick up. There usually is a bounce/re-bound after a lockdown but you have to time it right to maximise your chances of recouping some of the huge losses endured. A balmy Friday afternoon-night in Auckland can be good for millions in turn-over, even more so with the bloody AC happening.

                  • McFlock

                    yeah, fair call on the nice afternoon (dunners is pretty good at moment, too).

                    As for the notice period, the next complaint will be that the announcement can be released without a media conference (everyone will just hold their breath if the regular conference is brought forward). Then the complaint will be "just announce the results as soon as they come in". Then it's "no period after the announcement".

                    So the routine of "9:05 am, lab tests are announced, levels change immediately" emerges, which runs fine until a tech screws up the results and the correction comes out at 9:15. Or a reporter misreads a number and tells everyone to go to lever 4 rather than level 1.

                    Alternatively, the 11:30am announcement comes into effect at midnight. Rimmer, husk and juco would love that.

                    A reliably scheduled conference with a little bit of notice slows the "stimulus:panic:stimulus:relax" tension, while still getting things open.

          • woodart 5.1.1.1.2

            bollocks. successful former food service business owners know that things change, and businesses like cafes DONT have a textbook. when life gives you lemons, you DONT make lemonade, you make miniature lemon meringue pies, label them "grannys old fashioned " and make a killing. or, you can sit around, blaming someone else for your phuckups.THAT, is bau..

  5. Pat 6

    Not a huge fail in the grand scheme….if their reasoning was as I described then they may have been better to say so….IF

    • Incognito 6.1

      I disagree. It is lazy, slack and sloppy communication at the expense of people’s livelihoods. To me, it comes across as unkind, uncaring, out of touch, and arrogant. This Government is relying way too much on PR and ‘relentlessly positive’ rhetoric and Ardern’s star-power. This is just another symptom, albeit small and almost trivial. The Opposition has already latched on to it. Stupid and preventable.

      • David 6.1.1

        I agree. The idea that a viaduct business for example can stock up and staff up in 30 minutes is completely preposterous and arrogant by this government. I personally spoke to staff at one of these establishments today that have catered for 100 seated guests as required by level 2 today. At fully capacity they can cater for 450 at a time. The economic cost to them alone of Adern sitting on her hand over night is tens of thousands of dollars.

        • woodart 6.1.1.1

          you obviously know very little about food service industry. very little food is delivered on the day of consumption, and staff are very used to being called to work at short notice. IF, you had personally spoke to staff, they would have told you that, so I call bullshit on your post. those viaduct food businesses are more affected by having americas cup races cancelled for lack of wind.(you could have helped there)

          • David 6.1.1.1.1

            Woodart you prove my point precisely. More notice would have allowed more food to be ordered earlier. As you say, you don’t order and consume it in the day.

            Rather we have an arrogant government who prefers to sit on decisions and give 30 minutes notice.

            BTW shouting personal abuse at everyone doesn’t make you right!

            • Drowsy M. Kram 6.1.1.1.1.1

              Oh, the arrogance of our Government – I do feel for you David. How very dare the NZ Labour party, under the leadership of PM Ardern, win the first absolute majority in MMP history, and (with the aid of the team of nearly five million) achieve COVID-19 pandemic outcomes that are the envy of the world.

              https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/covid-resilience-ranking/

              It’s enough to make you weep.

              • Incognito

                Drowsy, don’t forget the Team of Five Million.

                I’ve used the word “arrogance” in one of my comments under this OP to test the reactions of some here. It tends to weed out the reflexive and partisan/tribal commenters 😉

            • woodart 6.1.1.1.1.2

              oh, so now, you want the gov to give overnight notice of level change? gee, that sounds like a phuckup in the making. again I would suggest you know very little (or less) about food service industry. and even less about public health in a pandemic.

              • David

                What, you mean like they’ve done before. You calling that a stuff-up mate?

                • McFlock

                  Should it have been overnight notice?

                  Given the level change was contingent upon test results only available this morning, that would give hospo 12 and a half hours to prepare for the lunch rush… tomorrow.

                  Sure, I don't think anyone would have a problem with not being able to operate at full capacity this afternoon and tonight, lol

            • David 6.1.1.1.1.3

              https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/covid-19-coronavirus-auckland-to-move-to-level-2-rest-of-nz-to-level-1/ZVBQ7KKL56JWZVHW5BZM3UB5AQ/

              This from last Friday about an alert level drop over the weekend. A complete stuff up according to Woodart.

              • woodart

                vast difference going from level 3 to 2 versus 2to 1. perhaps you need to read up on the differences, crowdwise.

                • David

                  Oh jeepers! Not everyone lives in Auckland!!! That last Friday announcement effective over the weekend moved everyone else from 2 to 1!!!! The one you are saying was a stuff up by the government.

                  • woodart

                    no, you are the one loudly claiming stuffup. and I dont live anywhere near auckland.

                    • David

                      Ok, so you are not going to admit you made a mistake in your original piece that the government should only provide 30 minutes notice over an alert level change despite a history over 12 months and 4 lockdowns of acting differently!!

                      just shout more abuse to detract from the point you got it wrong. You go for it… fill your boots up…

      • Pat 6.1.2

        I would suggest it was obvious reading between the lines that the level was going to revert to one and businesses will have planned accordingly

        • Incognito 6.1.2.1

          Not good enough. As we know from the Papatoetoe debacle, which was not as one-sided as some want to believe, what is “obvious” is not always obvious.

          • Pat 6.1.2.1.1

            If you are honest you will recognise no matter how they communicated the moving from level to another they were going to be criticised…its your choice whether you wish to be honest with yourself or not.

            as said ..its is a minor issue.

            • Incognito 6.1.2.1.1.1

              Of course, Government is going to be criticised, no matter what. I happen to take a certain view on their recent communication(s). Others will have different views. I gave my arguments, others can give theirs. I’m always brutally honest, to my detriment, but have learned to stay silent, at times 😉

              That said, it was somewhat of a shock to read Peter Dunne later today, which is highly unusual for me, almost as unusual as reading Chris Trotter, and find that I agreed with almost everything he said 🙁

              https://www.newsroom.co.nz/meeting-irritation-and-apathy-with-arrogance

              • Muttonbird

                Does Peter Dunne live in Auckland?

                Loved this para from him:

                In western liberal societies like ours governments can only govern effectively with the consent of the public. If the public loses confidence, trust or belief in what a government is doing, the government quickly loses public consent, and consequently finds it increasingly difficult to impose its will on the public.

                He'd know about the public losing confidence, wouldn't he? He ran away from a fight he knew he'd lose and has been bitter about it ever since.

                In large part this was due to complacency. After a year of the Government running a generally successful national virus elimination strategy many people did not see what the problem was – there were no cases to speak of after all, so what was the fuss about?

                Well, fuck me. It's only the most successful national virus elimination strategy in the world. No big deal.

                People lied. People went to work when their household was sick. What kind of idiot does that ion a pandemic? Bowtie didn't even touch on those truths in his opinion piece. Perhaps he blames the government for people being stupid and dangerous?

                I'm picking Bowtie fled politics because he's not very good. This article proves it.

                The OP meshes nicely with Dunne’s TLDR column and the yapping from Collins, Seymour, and David Farrar.

                In fact this post could appear on Kiwiblog and no-one would question it.

                • Incognito

                  Well, I had to get my inspiration from somewhere. The NZ Left is so boringly stale, I’d to go further afield and find it right there. I expect many up-ticks tomorrow on KB and a personal e-mail from PDF to thank me. Job well done, mission accomplished. BTW, you forgot to mention my best mate Chris Bishop, he’ll be gutted. \sarc

                  Do you want to address anything in or of the OP or just whinge & whine here about a politician from yesteryear? If the former, go ahead. If the latter, please take it to OM or DR, thanks, or write your own bloody post.

              • Pat

                "That said, it was somewhat of a shock to read Peter Dunne later today, which is highly unusual for me, almost as unusual as reading Chris Trotter, and find that I agreed with almost everything he said "

                We all have our off days…perhaps a rereading on a new day will produce a different result.

                I read the linked article and found little of pertinence. The government have many problems and are under considerable pressure on many fronts but the handling of the pandemic is one of their few strong points (imo)

        • David 6.1.2.2

          “Reading between the lines” is not the way governments should communicate information or businesses make decisions.

          ”Reading between the lines” of last December’s government press releases and we should be two weeks from having quarantine free travel to Australia.

        • Jimmy 6.1.2.3

          Rubbish. Yes the majority of people probably assumed a move to level one, but no one knew or could predict it would be in 30 minutes time. She may have announced a move to level one at 12 midnight on Sunday.

          Its a bit risky to run a business on trying to "read between the lines" , do they buy perishable food or not?

          • McFlock 6.1.2.3.1

            Of course they do. They were still on level 2. Knowing yesterday there will be a decision and that it will likely be towards less restriction, they could make their bet as to how many perishables to buy.

            I note from my linked article that the indication a week ago was regarding opening on the weekend. So they got an extra half day, three hours after the relevant results came in.

  6. Peter 7

    Are the test results important? They waited for final ones to come in? If they weren't to wait for test results to come in they should have opened up a week ago.

    If they'd announced opening level one happening from last night and some untoward test results came in what would the outcry have been like?

    • Drowsy M. Kram 7.1

      … what would the outcry have been like?

      Good question – probably something similar to the current brouhaha, if not worse.

      Maybe it would have been best to have announced (on Thursday) the intention to drop down the alert levels at midday Friday, and to have made it clear the drop would be conditional on Friday morning's test results. What I don’t know is whether all those test results were available by 9 am on Friday, which would have allowed the PM to make an announcement at least a full two hours earlier than she did.

      Some followers of the 'Papakura oracle' seem to expect our Government to divine COVID-19 test results ahead of time. Criticism and credit where it's due.

      Ms Ardern said cabinet met on Thursday afternoon and decided to move alert levels, pending any new cases and testing of close contacts – information that was due on Friday morning.

  7. AWww diddums. Small business 24 hour notice is FAR more important than peoples' health??

    Gimme a break. We are all in this together. Bosley can stop grandstanding.

    • Ed1 8.1

      Listening to radio news (I was driving), it seems that in Auckland, the only businesses concerned were bars and cafes/ restaurants – do they do anything else in Auckland? If they had a PR company feeding the media (without needing any real material to provide the service), I hope they were very well paid.

      I suspect they would have been waiting for both individual tests and also tests of waste water, which may have come through later in the morning. One of the Labour ministers did mention yesterday that they wanted some further information. I agree that communication could have been more explicit, but the media were quite unbalanced.

  8. Graeme 9

    We could look at this counterfactually and consider what would have happened if the level change, pending the Friday test results had been announced after Thursday's cabinet meeting. Most of Auckland would have gone to Level 1 immediately and restaurants and bars stocked up for a big Friday lunch, then positive results come through Friday morning. Try putting that genie back in the bottle.

    I'm fully in agreement with Woodart that the howling just shows who's a good restaurant operator and who's not. The good people will be open on the dot of 12 and have a limited menu that will be changing by the second as stock comes through the door, it'll be a great energy, the punters will be having a ball and the till will be ringing. The others will be stuck with their set menus and apologising to punters that are walking out the door.

    The other side of the coin is that the establishments aren't going to have many punters until late afternoon once everyone gets their social groups together, also on 30min notice.

    Also think 30min notice, both going up Levels and down, is going to be the norm in future thanks to the Tamaki (both the naughty boy and wider environs) effect. Sooner or later one of the rats that flees the outbreak location is going to spread infection and we'll have most of the country in Level 3, or more. 30 minutes is enough to give a clear cutoff for boarding flights and get checkpoints on main roads.

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