News | 22 February 2022
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Pandemic Response Plan to help Wellington businesses

Support for struggling Wellington businesses will be considered at Thursday’s Council meeting as part of a proposed $2.3 million Pandemic Response Plan.

Wellington city centre lit up at night.

The range of initiatives to be considered include a reduction of council fees, the deferral of rates payments without penalty for six months, extension of parking time limits, and the reduction of parking fees during weekends. 

“There can be no doubt that the impact of trying to operate businesses in the past two years of the pandemic and now with the arrival of Omicron has pushed our city’s retail, hospitality, and arts sectors to the edge. There is now a significant daily threat of business closure, jobs being lost, and dreams shattered,” said Mayor Andy Foster. 

“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 Council’s initiatives, when combined with the Government’s just released 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,” said Mayor Foster. 

Read the Pandemic Response Plan on the Council agenda page

“What makes Wellington unique from other centres is a higher percentage of civil servants who work in the CBD. Increased numbers of people working from home over the last two years has meant that many CBD businesses haven’t been able to build up reserves for the situation they find themselves in. 

“Council is not prepared to lose the vibrancy of the city. We need to support our businesses, hospitality, retail, arts sectors, and the talent that produces Wellington’s life and soul. We are working hard to produce real savings for the CBD businesses.”

The Pandemic Response Plan will be considered at this Thursday’s full Council meeting and includes: $1 weekend parking, Q4 rates deferral for hospitality and retail businesses which own their building, free outdoor dining permits, a soon to be launched WellingtonNZ citywide marketing campaign, and an exciting events programme.

“I have every confidence this difficult time for business can be turned around as we look ahead to the near future and the opening of major capital projects such as Tākina - the Wellington Convention and Exhibition Centre, the refurbished St James, and work starting on the new Central Library and the National School of Music,” said Mayor Foster.