Covid-19: Hamilton businesses prepared “as much as possible” for Omicron
Hamilton-based businesses large and small are bracing for a big outbreak of Omicron, with the mayor, university and local retailers confident they are ready.
Mayor Paula Southgate said on Friday that the council – one of the biggest companies in the city – had prepared “as much as possible” with various measures. This involved keeping teams of workers separated at work and socially, to reduce the risk of widespread infection that would put key groups out of action at the same time.
These measures would help ensure the maintenance of essential city services.
“I think we’re in a good position,” she said. Things.
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Covid-19 data modeler Michael Plank says most people vaccinated will have mild or no symptoms, and things like masks and social distancing will help reduce infections.
On holding face-to-face council meetings and conducting day-to-day business if cases spike, Southgate said: “If the numbers get really high we will be back to working remotely for a while – we will. have done before.”
While the council was well organized for people to work remotely, she said she would miss the more relaxed face-to-face contact of recent times.
A problem for her and the advisers would be to protect themselves at the many public events they attend, through the wearing of masks, social distancing and hand sanitizing.
At the top of Barton Street, Aaron Roots, branch manager of Elite Fitness – which sells and rents exercise equipment – said Covid-19 had probably made them busier ‘because people were afraid to go at the gym or stuck at home locked out and wanting to play sports”.
Additionally, disposable income for buying equipment had tended to rise for some because they weren’t spending as usual under Covid-19, and the virus has made people more health conscious, a he declared.
On takeoff from Omicron, Roots said: “We have survived a lockdown before. We will have to learn to live with it. »
The store would emphasize good hygiene, the use of masks and digitalization to help manage risk. A small workforce would also be an advantage.
“We’re lucky we only have three employees here, so we’re not face to face very often.”
All staff have been vaccinated, he added.
Another of Hamilton’s big employers, the University of Waikato, is now well trained to adapt “teaching, research and operations to an evolving Covid-19 environment”, said a statement from Vice-Chancellor Neil Quigley. .
From February 14, people coming to study and work at the university must be fully vaccinated.
Additionally, Quigley said, “Our summer schedule has been updated to reflect distancing requirements and classes have been moved to larger venues where necessary. Students must now wear a mask in class unless waived.
“We are preparing to welcome students for the start of term A at the red frame and provide a safe environment.”
Frans van de Weerd and his wife Monica, who run their long-running Naturally Healthy health products and therapy operation from London St, said they did not expect Omicron to make a major difference in their company compared to now.
Covid-19 has generally had a big impact on foot traffic and the number of customers entering the store, which will soon be moving to smaller premises in Claudelands.
“There is a lot of confusion and anxiety there,” said Frans van de Weerd.
The store sold many products designed to protect people from viruses in general and he said they would try to keep things “business as usual” to make customers comfortable with finding products and services.
The store had a limited stock of rapid antigen tests and made them available to staff when needed.
Monica van de Weerd said a trend under Covid-19, which she expected to continue if Omicron took hold, was that they were taking more time with individual customers.
“They are scared, they want to talk.”
Soul Gallery owner Lisa Voigt plans to do more to entice people to buy the artwork and merchandise from her Barton St store online as foot traffic has slowed.
“People still want to buy and support New Zealand art…people adapt to shopping in a different way and we have adapted to that.”
The gallery has also introduced virtual tours using FaceTime for customers anxious to enter.
And, with isolation rules in the current red settings, she plans to staff the store differently to avoid too many people being away at the same time.
DIY retailer Bunnings Warehouse, which has two stores in Hamilton, said in a statement that its teams are “doing an incredible job” of adapting to the new requirements.
“We really want to thank the local community for continuing to follow our Covid safety measures when visiting stores,” said regional manager Nick Wren.
“We have well-established processes in place that we have developed throughout the pandemic that help us maintain our operations, protect the well-being of our teams and manage all team isolation requirements,” did he declare.
Clifford Buchler, CEO of Miter 10 MEGA in Hamilton, said his two stores have prepared for omicron by creating more “bubbles” of workers to help reduce the risk of cross-infection between teams working in the same departments.
There’s also been a focus on developing various employees and casuals in new areas so they’re better able to fill the gaps created by people who get sick with omicron, Buchler said.