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Butchers, bakers can operate online, Jacinda Ardern says

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says butchers, bakers and grocers are able to operate online. This comes less than an hour after the Ministry of Business (MBIE) told 1 NEWS "no decisions have been made on this". 

Source: 1 NEWS

Jacinda Ardern today was asked about online operating by butchers, bakers and grocers after issues arose such as halal butchers that were forced to close due to the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

When asked to clarify the lockdown restriction on shops operating online, Ms Ardern told media "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."

Ms Ardern said some of the shops would not have online function, which would stop them continuing to operate. 

She said comments made about butchers having to close were in reference to those that had no online provision. 

"Our butchers, our bakers, they are providing food services for our community but if every single one of them opens across the country is defeats the point, it opens up a huge chain of transmission," Jacinda Ardern said last week when asked about those remaining open. 

1 NEWS today contacted MBIE today asking if it had reached a decision about butchers, bakers and grocers being allowed to take online and phone orders for contactless delivery.

A spokesperson said they were continuing "to look at a number of options to make it easier for people to access essential services as we progress through the alert level four lockdown, but no decisions have been made on this".

Last week, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced butchers could process pork to supply to supermarket or other processors or retailers still open during the lockdown

"At present, there is not enough capacity to hold surplus pigs on farms or pig carcasses in processing facilities, which could create an animal welfare issue," he said.

"We need them to operating to ensure that pigs can continue to be processed and are not backing up on farms, leading to animal welfare issues."

"The pork industry raised this issue with Government and Cabinet agreed that there were strong enough grounds for a change to be made to address specific concerns in relation to animal welfare."

Yesterday, National leader Simon Bridges told TVNZ1's Q+A a "constructive conversation" was needed on whether contactless businesses should be able to run safely during lockdown.

"When you think about our economy, the longer we see the devastation, the job losses, the businesses going under, it's heart attacks, it's mental health issues, it's fatalities in its own way," Mr Bridges told host Jack Tame.

"Let's try and deal with some of the randomness where one is an essential service and one isn't, let's be agile and potentially we can move to a more risk-based system."