As part of the government declaring a Level 4 alert, retail butchery shops were deemed to be non-essential and therefore could not open to the public. Many butchers were not aware of this until a Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) spokesman pointed it out during an interview on national radio.
This sparked confusion amongst the businesses who had ordered extra stock due to the panic buying that had taken place in the fortnight leading up to the Level 4 declaration as well as concerns over what they could do with that extra stock.
This week Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern outlined to local media what retail butchery businesses can do. “You will have heard me many times before that what you can access in supermarkets, people can access through alternative means online and so on.
“There has always been guidance that wholefoods can be provided online, you would have heard me say that yesterday, that's always been the guidance of MBIE, that's why you've got outlets like My Food Bag who have continued to operate.
“That's always existed, what we have said to those grocers is that they can't open their retail ends, they can't open their shops. That's something we've been utterly consistent on.”
In response to this, Retail Meat New Zealand has issued some advice for butchery businesses operating online. In a statement on social media it said: “Butchers have been approved to operate an online/over the phone service with contactless delivery and payment. It doesn't matter if you had an online shop before lockdown or if you are just starting deliveries now.
“Butchers must keep their doors closed to the public and must not provide a click-and-collect or pick-up service. Registration with MPI Essentials will be required if there are more than five staff including the owner working in your business.”
Retail Meat New Zealand also stressed that COVID-19 specific health and safety requirements must be met.