Govt issues guidelines on essential services

By: Gurbir Singh

The Government last night has confirmed The Warehouse and liquor stores will remain closed during Covid-19 alert level 4. Dairies, however, will stay open but with strict rules.

“The Warehouse needs to close its shops. Leaving them open to the general public creates too high a risk of further spreading the virus,” says MBIE Deputy Chief Executive, Paul Stocks.

Government Ministers met last night to provide further guidance on essential services that can continue to operate after midnight today.

“COVID-19 alert level 4 is not business as usual and means there will be significant restrictions on what New Zealanders are able to purchase.

“The purpose of escalating New Zealand’s COVID-19 alert level to 4 was to stop the virus in its tracks and reduce contact between people.

“That’s why we need as many businesses as possible to close their premises now if our one shot at beating the virus is to be successful,” Stocks said.

“Only the businesses absolutely essential to ensure the necessities of life, like supermarkets and pharmacies, can stay open. If in doubt, the business premises should be closed.”

Dairies provide basic food items like bread and milk to people close to where they live, especially the elderly who may not be able to get to a supermarket. However, they will need to operate a strict ‘one-in one-out’ policy and they won’t be allowed to sell food prepared on the premises.

“If any dairy breaks the rules, we will shut it down. If there is evidence of systemic abuse, we will remove them from the essential services list.”

Food delivery services like Uber Eats and Deliver Easy pose a risk to human health. We cannot guarantee every kitchen operates strict food preparation controls or that everyone who works in a kitchen is well… so it’s a real risk we have to eliminate.

“For clarity, every restaurant, café and bar must close all aspects of their operation, including delivery.

Delivery of food that is not pre-cooked will be allowed under strict health conditions. Many New Zealanders now receive their food via a delivery company and are in effect no different to a supermarket delivery option.

“Most people are able to purchase alcohol at supermarkets. On that basis liquor stores are being treated as other non-essential retail outlets and must close. The only exception to this are Licencing Trust Areas where there is nowhere else to purchase alcohol. These stores must operate a ‘one-in one-out’ policy.

“Big box” retailers like Bunnings, Placemakers and Mitre 10 can stay open but they cannot sell goods to the general public.”

“We are doing further work on online ordering of non-food products for home delivery to see if this type of retail can be conducted safely. We will update advice on this once further decisions are made.

“We are ready to change the list if necessary. If we discover there are essential services that have not been made available we will react to that as we go.”

The gist of guidelines is:

* Dairies to stay open, with “one-in one-out” rule

* Food delivery prohibited, except meals on wheels and delivery of food not pre-cooked

* Liquor stores closed, unless within a Licensing Trust Area and with “one-in one-out” rule

* Self-service laundries can stay open, two-metre physical distancing to be enforced

* The Warehouse to close stores to the public

* Bunnings, Placemakers, Mitre 10 and other retailers essential to the supply of chain for building and construction can stay open to trade customers for essential purposes only

* Retirement villages included as an essential service