Lifestyle

‘It’s about freedom’: Kiwis urged to get vaccinated to get NZ back to normality


No events mean no income. That is the bleak reality of Praveen Nautiyal’s courageous step into self-employment after Covid-19 took a shredder to his business plan.

But back in August, Nautiyal was optimistic.

While working as a professional chef, he had built a successful sideline business with his food trailer ‘Feed the Need’.

After last year’s lockdown, Nautiyal was flying as people embraced their freedom and celebrated their summer after the suffocating restrictions of home.

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It was a great time to be in the mobile food business with events bringing large crowds that guaranteed a good income.

Nautiyal worked hard and liked being self-employed, and so he decided to pack in his job, in time to commit to pre-Christmas events.

He couldn’t have known that the press conference called by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on August 17, in which she announced a nationwide lockdown, would see his dream parked up in a Rolleston garage.

As restrictions kicked in and the long tail of Covid-19 kept the South Island in alert level 2, Nautiyal, like many food vendors, could do nothing but watch as event after event was scratched from his calendar.

Praveen Nautiyal hopes everyone will take up the opportunity to get vaccinated.

CHRIS SKELTON/Stuff

Praveen Nautiyal hopes everyone will take up the opportunity to get vaccinated.

Now he’s faced with trying to find a permanent site in Rolleston in order to make loan repayments on the house he had just purchased while paying rent in Christchurch until he can move in.

Having finished at his job two weeks ago, Nautiyal has to seek temporary employment and hopes mass vaccinations will be a path back to the crucial summer events he needs to survive.

He’s looking forward to Super Saturday, believing high vaccination rates will be a way out of hardship for many businesses. “Things are really hard for some people right now.”

Nautiyal may be the human face of the cost of Covid-19, but he’s not alone. Countless businesses are groaning under the weight of waiting for normality to return.

As businesses do all they can to encourage first jabbers along to Super Saturday, community leaders have been reminding people to remember the consequences of not vaccinating may be closer than they think.

In Christchurch East, where vaccination uptake remains sluggish, Labour MP Poto Williams has urged constituents to heed the call, saying the national day was about more than a health response.

“This is about having a great social response, as well as being able to support local businesses and get some normality back to life.”

Whether people were looking forward to getting together as a family in New Zealand or overseas, returning to church, or attending events, Williams said everybody has a role to play.

“You may not have realised just how significant you are as an individual person.”

Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel put it far more succinctly: “The sooner we get to 90 per cent, the more freedom we will have.”

Praveen Nautiyal is looking for a permanent site for his food trailer after events have been cancelled.

CHRIS SKELTON/Stuff

Praveen Nautiyal is looking for a permanent site for his food trailer after events have been cancelled.

With freedom, travel becomes a possibility again, and long-suffering tourism businesses can breathe after a year of relying on Government life-support.

Chief executive of Top 10 Holiday Parks Group, David Ovendale reminded people that behind a business’ impersonal exterior, there were mothers, fathers, children and grandparents whose livelihoods depended on people’s ability to travel.

Given the lion share of the group’s revenue was made during summer, Ovendale supported any initiative that would get those hesitant about being vaccinated across the line.

“The ability to travel, and preparedness to travel because you feel safer, are two things that are closely linked to the vaccination percentage.”

Nautiyal had pre-planned to quit his job and go full-time on his food truck, but the mass cancellation of events due to Covid-19 restrictions has left him without income.

CHRIS SKELTON/Stuff

Nautiyal had pre-planned to quit his job and go full-time on his food truck, but the mass cancellation of events due to Covid-19 restrictions has left him without income.

Sue Sullivan from Christchurch Attractions saw Super Saturday as being a “particularly important” pathway back to welcoming international guests and for Kiwis to move around the country. “It’s about freedom and being able to get out there and connect with everybody.”

At Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa, the town has been missing North Island and overseas tourists.

In a normal January over 100 000 people would make the trek to the hot pools, so general manager Graeme Abbot hoped as many people as possible would take up the call to get vaccinated on Saturday.

“It will get us back to normalcy, and we can lead the lives we want to.”

For Christopher Boyle, the co-owner of AFCryo, which designs and makes cryogenic systems for export, not having that seat at the global table due to Covid-19 restrictions has come at a cost.

Needing to have four staff members offshore within three or four months to commission products already delivered, Boyle risked contracts being cancelled under current border restrictions.

Boyle was already running behind schedule to commission equipment in Britain, Canada, India and Ethiopia, and saw vaccination as the way to support our economy and our lives.

New Zealand needs business exports to bring revenue into the country, which in turn supports jobs and families, he said.

“Without that life gets very difficult.”



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