Many butchers want to open during Level 4 to serve their communities, not to make a profit, Retail Meat New Zealand spokesman Kit Arkwright says.
“This isn’t a money maker for them – this is about keeping their loyal customers fed during a time of crisis,” Arkwright told The Country’s Jamie Mackay.
Under level 4 butchers can provide contactless delivery but cannot offer click and collect to customers or physically open their doors.
Contactless delivery was putting pressure on butchers, Arkwright said.
“The reports we’re getting back from some of our members is that they’re working 15 hours a day to facilitate those orders – that’s far from ideal.
“So, those that are doing it are, more often than not, doing it to serve their community.”
Arkwright wanted butchers to be allowed to open during Level 4 lockdowns, especially to lighten the load for supermarkets and certain communities “under siege” from the Delta variant.
Butchers already had lockdown protocols in place, he said.
“Their ready, they’re able, they can do it safely, they have the risk management plans in place from previous lockdowns and they just want to be given the OK to do that.”
The click and collect method would work well for other independent retailers such as green grocers and fishmongers, Arkwright said.
On example was Retail Meat vice president Reuben Sharples’ butchery in New Lynn, West Auckland.
“His store is next to a produce shop, he’s next to a fishmonger and a bakery. The reality is, where he is, customers could come up to the store – this is all outdoors – they could safely and socially distance, collect their goods from a click and collect.
“At the moment that’s not possible. Only contactless delivery is being allowed under the guidelines.”
Retail Meat NZ had been talking to the Ministry for Primary Industries about the situation, Arkwright said.
“We’ve been in touch with MPI regularly and they’ve been great in coming back to us and acknowledging the challenges that our members are facing – credit where credit’s due – but the reality at the moment is we haven’t had an answer, or there doesn’t seem to be any movement.
“So if I could send a message – if someone in the Beehive is listening – it would be to say, what do we need to do to prove that we can do this safely? If there’s anything we can do to get this over the line, let us know and we’ll act on that.”
Also in today’s interview: Arkwright talked about his other role as acting chief executive of Beef + Lamb NZ.