New Zealand businesses playing 'critical role' in fight to stop spread of coronavirus

The business sector is taking a big hit as New Zealand goes into coronavirus lockdown, but newly appointed liaison between Government and business Rob Fyfe says businesses have a critical role to play in the fight back.

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Rob Fyfe who’s the liaison between business and Government says hundreds of companies are offering their resources. Source: Breakfast

While everyone is concerned about their business and livelihood, former Air New Zealand CEO Mr Fyfe said those concerns were being set aside to first focus on "stopping the virus in its tracks" and using New Zealand businesses' resources for things like the distribution of critical supplies.

"The reality is if we don't beat this disease through this strategy we're adopting then the impact on our lives and our businesses will be far, far greater than it otherwise would be.

"The message of stay at home and save lives is absolutely critical. Every time someone leaves their home, goes out of their home, even an essential worker, it creates a little crack in our defence."

However, amid the daunting times, Mr Fyfe, said he had received hundreds of messages from organisations offering to help since his appointment yesterday.

"To be brutally honest, at the moment the first phase for me is all about the health crisis, right, as much as my natural instinct is to figure out how do we get ourselves back on our feet, that is actually not today's priority. Today's priority is how we stop this virus in its tracks."

Mr Fyfe said the business sector had "an absolutely critical role" in that mission.

"There's all sorts of opportunities where we can be doing things right on a local level. At a national level we have organisations like The Warehouse Group, ZURU Toys - they've got these massive supply chains China. We're trying to figure out how do we tap into those to get additional critical medical supplies down here and to New Zealand.

"The Tindall Foundation has these amazing network of volunteers out working in communities in need - how can we use those? Support those communities?"

Mr Fyfe said there was "an amazing capability" in both Government and business.

"My key role right at the moment is how I harness the resources of the New Zealand business community to support the critical initiatives that the Prime Minister's defined to help us through this immediate phase of this crisis.

"I'm trying to prioritise everything that's coming towards us, say 'how do we best utilise that? How do we prioritise it? Where do we point it?"