What’s an essential business?
The issue of which businesses are and aren’t essential during Auckland’s COVID-19 alert level 4 lockdown has some frustrated and disheartened as their finances continue to dwindle.
If all goes well and COVID-19 case numbers continue to drop, the Government has announced Auckland could move to level 3 as early as Tuesday.
Until then non-essential businesses around the city are sitting tight and waiting for the storm to pass.
But the question of what constitutes an essential business is increasingly a grey area. Why, for example, can people get a box of donuts and a bottle of gin delivered to their house but not a book or a bunch of flowers? . .
Any business is essential to the people whose livelihoods depend on it but the government and its bureaucrats base their definition on what looks like arbitrary criteria.
Confectionary manufacturing is regarded as essential, butchers aren’t.
I’ve got a whole mouth full of sweet teeth but am yet to be convinced that lollies are essential.
Nor do I have any difficulty arguing that butchers ought to be considered essential, not just to take pressure off supermarkets but for animal welfare reasons. Butchers kill pigs and if these animals aren’t dispatched as regularly scheduled piggeries will run out of space and possibly food as piglets keep coming and growing.
The more people who are at and going to and from work, the greater the potential for Covid-19 to spread, but the disease is not the only threat.
The longer most businesses are forced to stay closed, the greater the risk to their survival and the financial and emotional wellbeing of their owners and staff; and the the cost to the wider economy.
It’s not just businesses, but most hospital services that aren’t deemed essential:
A cancer patient’s accused the Government of playing with peoples’ lives, as more than 37,000 surgeries are cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak. . .
Cancer Society medical director Kate Gregory said: “If the health services were better resourced we would have more flexibility and perhaps things would be more easier.” . .
Then there’s the toll on mental health.
Suicide attempts in 10-14 year-olds doubled after last year’s lockdowns.
A study of Ministry of Health data has shown that Covid19 lockdowns significantly increased mental distress in NZ children.
The study, published in the international Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, shows that attempted suicides in NZ children aged 10-14 years increased from a baseline of 40 per month to a peak of 90 per month following the lockdowns in 2020. . .
If the whole Covid-19 response was better health services, business and lives would be easier.