The government has implemented a Level 4 alert which requires all non-essential businesses to close until otherwise instructed to help minimise the spread of the virus. This includes retail butchery shops as the government believes that supermarkets fulfil the same purpose.
The situation caused confusion amongst retail butchers who believed they were allowed open to serve the public until deputy chief executive at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment Paul Stocks who has been appointed by the government to lead the essential services topic was interviewed on national radio stating otherwise.
This led to Retail Meat New Zealand being inundated with queries from butchers confused about whether they were allowed to trade or not.
While official guidance states that “any entity involved in the packaging, production and processing of food and beverage products, whether for domestic consumption or export” is an essential business, it was later updated with the additional information: “butchers, bakeries and similar small-scale food retailers are considered non-essential, as similar products are readily available in supermarkets”.
On its Facebook page, Retail Meat New Zealand has been advising its members to stay closed until the matter is resolved rather than breaching the Level 4 alert.