Post-lock down in the spotlight

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By DAVID HILL

Planning remains in place, should the Waimakariri district’s economy need a boost following the latest Covid-19 lockdown.

Waimakariri District Council recovery manager Simon Hart says last year’s Covid-19 recovery plan remains in place, but given the way the region bounced back last year it may not be equired.

Last year’s post-lockdown bounce saw Waimakariri’s retail spend get back on track quickly and end the year well ahead of 2019 levels.

“We do have a recovery plan that still sits in the background with 27 candidate projects which could be called on to stimulate the local economy, but I’m not picking that it’s going to be needed at this stage.”

Under Alert Level 4 the council was in the response phase under the leadership of emergency management adviser Brennan Wiremu.

“We’ve been monitoring it pretty closely through Civil Defence and working alongside our local agencies to assess whether there’s any need in the community,” Mr Hart says.

Council staff assessed whether there were any isolation issues with people unable to access key supplies, but found no issues.

Mr Hart says social recovery planning put in place by the council’s community team, working alongside local social service agencies, following last year’s lockdown had paid off.

“The sense is there’s no great immediate need that can’t be managed by our existing structures. It means most people are coping for the time being.”

While the immediate focus was on wellbeing and public safety, Mr Hart is keeping a watching brief on any possible economic fallout from the latest lockdown.

“There will be some economic activity concerns, but for now it remains a little unclear because it’s still quite early.

“But the economists are starting to get their heads around what concerns there might be.”

Mr Hart is confident lessons learnt in last year’s lockdown will help local businesses come through.

“A lot of people have learned a lot of things in both the private and public sectors and we saw some amazing transformations from businesses being able to trade online and keep operating under Covid restrictions, so I imagine those businesses will be going back to those playbooks.”

For now Enterprise North Canterbury is working with local employers to offer advice around what support is available, including wage subsidies.

The move to Alert Level 3 has allowed more businesses to trade, albeit with restrictions.