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How are city centre businesses responding to COVID-19? Thoughtfully, quickly and compassionately.

News story
Thursday 19 Mar 2020

City centre businesses are demonstrating resilience and creativity as they find their own ways of adapting to the situation presented by COVID-19. 

From creating physical distances with more space between tables and limiting numbers of people in store to theatres reducing the number of seats. 

We've also seen high end restaurants who are now offering home deliveries while some retailers are offering private shopping experiences.

Meetings are happening remotely, cleaning measures have been increased to keep customers and staff safe, there’s many who are ramping up their online presence, and some big businesses are stepping up to help small businesses where they can.

We’ve seen so many businesses come up with smart, thoughtful and considered responses, we wanted to share some of these ideas to help other businesses in the city centre.  

What changes has your business made to respond to COVID-19? Tell us here:


  • Offering free shipping or reducing the minimum spend for free delivery
  • Offering advice, recommendations and support over the phone – so the full in-store experience isn’t lost
  • Modifying returns policies e.g. to extend the returns period or include change of mind returns
  • Introducing online chat functions to provide more personalised support for online shoppers
  • Offering opportunities to book private / closed door shopping sessions
  • Offering to do home visits
  • Limiting the number of people in-store at any given time
  • Instating ‘non touch’ environments for certain areas (e.g. beauty) with staff on hand to assist customers apply products using disposable applicators
  • Quick delivery and dispatch e.g. online orders dispatched within 24 hours
  • Sterilisation of all common area surfaces throughout the day (EFTPOS, cabinets, doors and racks).
  • Store opening times changed to allow staff to commute at times that avoid added congestion and contact.


  • Utilising space to create more distance between tables
  • Rolling out alternative dining options e.g. home dining experiences, home delivery
  • Hand sanitisers beside EFTPOS machines
  • Extra antibacterial soap and cleaning stations set up
  • Extending dining vouchers and relaxing cancellation policies – to show compassion and support for customers who choose not to dine out
  • Implementing contactless takeaway and delivery systems, including joining UberEats
  • Increased personal hygiene including more frequent cleaning of all surfaces and contact points.
  • Limiting capacity

Health and Beauty

  • Staff wearing disposable gloves for all treatments
  • Option for customers to ask beauty professional to wear a mask or to wear one themselves
  • Increasing distance between treatment chairs or tables
  • Increasing regularity of cleaning services

Arts and Entertainment

  • Physical distancing – reducing seating capacity in larger venues or changing spacing of seats to create more personal space.
  • More frequent cleaning

Professional services

  • Flexible working hours to allow staff to avoid peak commuting hours
  • Conducting all meetings and appointments using technology e.g. conference calls, Skype, emails, instant messaging
  • Conducting meetings in larger, more accessible spaces to allow for social distancing
  • Avoiding personal contact such as hand shakes
  • Increased cleaning and sterilisation of common touch surfaces
  • Providing employees with hand sanitiser, disinfecting wipes and tissues


Some banks have offered support such as:

  • an overdraft facility
  • suspension of principal loan payments for up to three months
  • deferred payment on business credit cards for up to three months

People shopping in the Pavilions in Britomart, Auckland's city centre. Image: Sacha Stejko