Food delivery, non-essential stores to close under lockdown

The New Zealand government said food delivery services pose a risk to consumers’ health and should not operate during the coronavirus outbreak.

“For clarity, every restaurant, café and bar must close all aspects of their operation, including delivery,” said MBIE deputy chief executive Paul Stocks.

“Food delivery services like Uber Eats and Deliver Easy pose a risk to human health,” Stocks said. “We cannot guarantee every kitchen operates strict food preparation controls or that everyone who works in a kitchen is well.”

According to Stocks, evidence overseas suggests the virus has been spread via poor food hygiene practices.

“So it’s a real risk we have to eliminate.”

Delivery of food that is not pre-cooked, such as most meal kits, will be allowed under strict health conditions.

It is not yet clear whether New Zealanders will be allowed to order non-food products for home delivery under the level 4 lockdown, which begins tonight at midnight, and will last for four weeks.

The Government is currently looking into this to see if it can be conducted safely. Stocks said consumers will be advised once decisions are made.   

“[W]e 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.”

Domino’s, The Warehouse, liquor stores to close

Pizza giant Domino’s has announced it will respect the NZ government’s decision and prohibit food delivery and takeaway starting tomorrow.

“While we believe we can safely serve our communities during this crisis, we’re also members of the community ourselves,” said group CEO and managing director Don Meij. “We respect governments around the world are responding to conditions that are unique to each country.”

Domino’s stores in New Zealand will be closed for a period of four weeks starting tomorrow.

Liquor stores are considered non-essential 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.

NZ retail giant The Warehouse must also close its stores, while “big box” retailers like Bunnings, Placemakers and Mitre 10 can stay open to trade customers for essential purposes only.

“These retailers play an important part in the construction supply chain, but they cannot sell goods to the general public,” Stocks said.

Govt will reconsider ‘essential services’ if necessary

Businesses that are a critical part of the supply chain for essential services are also able to continue operating, but must do so in a way that is safe.

“For example, if you make chemicals that are needed for our waste water plants, then we need you to keep operating at the minimum level required.”

In addition, dairies can continue to operate, but must observe strict physical distancing rules for customers.

Stocks said if any dairy breaks the rules, it will be shut down.

“If there is evidence of systemic abuse, we will remove them from the essential services list.”

“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.”

Kmart NZ to close stores

Wesfarmers is closing all 25 of its Kmart NZ stores for a period of four weeks starting at midnight.

It has 53 Bunnings stores across the country, which will remain open to trade customers but will be closed to the general public. It also provides a number of essential products through its industrials and safety business, and is currently working with the New Zealand government to confirm those operations can continue.

“Wesfarmers does not have significant operations in New Zealand outside of its Bunnings, Kmart and Industrial & Safety businesses,” the company announced.

Revenue from its New Zealand operations represent approximately 8 per cent of the group’s total annual revenue. Revenue from Kmart New Zealand represents less than 3 per cent of the group’s total annual revenue.

Wesfarmers said it will endeavour to support team members through this difficult time and work with the relevant authorities on strategies to reduce the risks of COVID-19 and recommence operations as soon as deemed appropriate.

Retail NZ chief executive Greg Harford said there are still some areas that need further clarification which the NZ government hasn’t announced. 

“In particular, it remains unclear whether specialty stores supplying essential food such as small grocers, bakers, butchers and fruiterers are able to open,” he said.

“Additionally the government has not yet made a decision on whether non-essential stores can continue to trade online, subject to appropriate safety arrangements. Retail NZ is continuing to seek advice from officials on these points.”

Stocks said further details on essential services are as follows:

  •  Self-service laundries can stay open, two-metre physical distancing to be enforced
  •  Retirement villages are considered an essential service
  •  The Warehouse will be forced to close stores to the public
  •  Bunnings, Placemakers, Mitre 10 and other retailers essential to the supply chain for building and construction can stay open to trade customers for essential purposes only
  •  The Tiwai Point smelter is exempt from closure
  •  NZ Steel will be shut down in a way that allows for production to recommence easily
  •  Pulp and paper plants to shut down non-essential elements in a way that allows for production to recommence easily while maintaining essential production
  •  Methanex to remain in production, but at a scale consistent with stability of gas supply.


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