Tauranga’s CBD has experienced a decreased level in activity since the Omicron outbreak began, but with the country now at the Orange traffic light setting, has activity picked up?
CBD business owners have reported feeling the impact of the quieter CBD since February – however, now some, like Victoria Thomas from Pluto Juice Bar, suggest things may slowly be on the mend.
“It’s gradually getting back to a much better time. Three short weeks in a row haven’t helped us, but the days that we have been open we have noticed our corporates that began working from home over the peak of the Omicron outbreak have started coming back,” says Victoria.
“We’re definitely not where we were this time last year, but things were so bad during the peak of the outbreak that any change in the right direction is great.”
Victoria says that the future still has some uncertainty with staff potentially having to self-isolate, but having some increased activity in the CBD has been a welcome change.
A Tauranga Business Chamber spokesperson also echoes this sentiment. “Anecdotally, the school holidays are proving to be of benefit for the CBD and the wider Bay of Plenty area,” says Tauranga Business Chamber spokesperson Laura Boucher.
“There is a real sense of activity, and many people seem to be taking the opportunity to maximise on the double public holiday weekends, to take some time off to rest and recuperate from a hectic and uncertain start to the year.”
Laura also suggests while the CBD activity has increased, impacts of Covid-19 will still be present.
“The reality is that, while we are in ‘Orange’ and a number of the restrictions have lifted, Covid-19 continues to be present in our community and will continue to affect businesses.”
Laura says that businesses have put in some safety nets where they can, such as having staff ready to work from home if needed.
“The feeling from the business community is to proceed with caution. There is certainly a sense of ‘normality’ returning as we learn to live with Covid-19 under Orange and this will only increase further.
“However, if the last two years have taught us anything, it’s always good to be prepared for the unexpected and businesses would be wise to always have a plan B up their sleeve.”
Mainstreet Downtown Tauranga has set up a plan B using a volunteer roster for individuals who wish to help the hospitality sector while staff are self-isolating.
This has helped during the peak of the Omicron outbreak, and will continue to be a useful resource going forward for hospitality businesses. The roster was met with an overwhelming community response, according to Mainstreet manager Millie Pidwell.
“It’s been very encouraging and heart-warming to see so many members of our community call and email us to be put on the volunteer roster to help businesses who have had to close in recent weeks for days or more with staff at home self-isolating,” says Millie.
“It’s an opportunity for members of the public to give back, in a tactile and demonstrative way, to the very businesses that they usually love to frequent to dine, have a coffee or shop. It’s purely and simply people helping people.”
Millie says businesses tend to struggle when specialised staff, such as chefs, have to self-isolate.
“Businesses are grateful for any support that people can give right now. Even if we can make a small difference, it can go a long way and means a lot to businesses.”
To register in lending a hand to the CBD’s hospitality businesses struggling with staff self-isolating, email: email@example.com or phone 027 455 801.