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COVID-19: Companies fear the worst as customer numbers fall under red light

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Monday was a gray day in Christchurch to accompany the red light of the COVID protection framework. Neither helped attract customers.

“The weather has tried to reflect people’s emotions and it’s a bit dreary, not a ton of foot traffic,” Rollickin Gelato spokesperson Liam Donnelly told Newshub.

The usual lunchtime rush looked a little different.

“Regular customers say they have been advised to work from home rather than in the office,” said Black and White Coffee owner Wendy Xu.

Unlike confinement, cafes, bars and restaurants are open but for little reward.

“I don’t know how long we can survive,” Xu warns.

And no one knows how long the red light restriction will last.

“It’s a real blow to business confidence, which was already badly weakened. I think everyone is struggling to get out of this,” said Christchurch Central Business Association President Annabel Turley.

“We have been very calm after the New Year. Everyone is leaving and we hope they will come back this week,” Xu adds.

In Auckland it was a similar scene, with quiet streets and worried business owners.

“If enough staff were to disappear, we would be forced to close and it would be quite serious,” warns Carole Beu, owner of The Women’s Bookshop.

In Wellington, the region’s bank holiday was enough to bring people out. But Tuesday will be the test for the capital when office workers return to work – or not.