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Restaurants, online retailers prepare to trade under Level 3 restrictions

Retailers that rely heavily on imported goods may be at a disadvantage when the country transitions to Alert Level 3 restrictions next week, according to professor Julia Kotlarsky from the University of Auckland Business School.

Kotlarsky said retailers could face delays in the supply of goods if they come from overseas, but said restaurants and food takeaway shops delivering meals made from locally sourced products will be able to easily start operating during Alert Level 3.  

NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced earlier this week that the country will resume trading under Alert Level 3 restrictions from 11:59pm on Monday, April 27.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson said this would give businesses allowed to operate under Level 3 restrictions time to prepare, so they can hit the ground running. 

Businesses allowed to operate under Alert Level 3 include ‘Safe Businesses’ alongside ‘Essential Businesses’.

The Prime Minister said workplaces must operate safely while on Alert Level 3, keeping one metre between workers, recording who is working together, limiting interaction between groups of workers, disinfecting surfaces and maintaining high hygiene standards.

Retail and hospitality businesses can only open for delivery and contactless pre-ordered pick-up, which means customers cannot enter stores.

Supermarkets, dairies and petrol stations can continue to allow customers into their stores, with the same restrictions and measures in place as Alert Level 4.

Businesses cannot offer services which involve face-to-face contact or sustained close contact (e.g. hairdressing, massage, house cleaning, or door-to-door salespeople).

Other in-home services can be delivered if it is safe to do so (like tradespeople for repairs or installations) but service providers should keep two metres apart from those in the house.

Trade Me announced its online marketplace will be back up and running as normal from 11:59pm on April 27 in line with the Government’s COVID-19 Alert Level 3 guidelines.

Lisa Stewart, Trade Me’s head of marketplace, said Kiwis will be able to buy and sell items onsite from Friday, with normal trade resuming from Tuesday, provided the vendors and buyers adhere to the Government’s safety restrictions.

Stewart said the company has put measures in place to ensure all trades remain contactless.

“Trades must be contactless and cash is not permitted. Instead, payments can be made via Ping, bank transfer or Afterpay,” she said.

“We recommend using our ‘Book a courier’ service, which means sellers can have their item picked up from their front door – they don’t even have to leave the house. If items cannot be sent via courier, buyers and sellers must follow our safe trading guidelines and maintain a 2-metre distance from one another at all times.”

Trade Me had announced earlier this month that under COVID-19 Alert Level 4, only essential items would be permitted to be sold onsite.

Fast food chain retailer Restaurant Brands said it will take a phased approach to opening its more than 200 KFC, Pizza Hut and Carl’s Jr stores in order to put health and safety first.

For KFC and Carl’s Jr., that means the operation of contactless drive-through and contactless delivery. For Pizza Hut, only contactless delivery will be available. To ensure a contactless transaction, cash will not be accepted across both drive-through and delivery services.

Carl’s Jr. delivery can be ordered through the UberEats online ordering platform, but Taco Bell delivery is not unavailable. KFC customers will also have to choose from a slightly smaller menu of key products than usual to limit the number of staff required in restaurant kitchens. 

“We appreciate there will be high demand when we reopen for delivery and drive through, but first I must have total confidence the wellbeing of our staff and our customers can be assured,” said Russel Creedy, Restaurant Brands Group CEO.

“Having this phased approach gives us time to make sure, store-by-store, we have the staff and necessary operational guidelines and checks in place to exceed both the government’s requirements and the expectations of our customers.”

Prior to re-opening, Restaurant Brands will require each restaurant to have its own re-opening plan signed off by the company’s executive.

Enhanced cleaning, hygiene and social distancing measures are also being adopted and, prior to returning to work, all staff will be required to receive training and certification on these new procedures through online training modules.

“We have set up individual work zones for each staff member to ensure a safe distance is maintained,” Creedy said.

KFC, Pizza Hut, Carl’s Jr. and Taco Bell stores closed on March 25, allowing staff to get home early ahead of the movement to the Level 4 lockdown.

The company said it had been communicating regularly with staff, having made the commitment early to guarantee they would continue to be paid at 100 per cent of their wages and salaries during this time.

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