By Maja Burry and Sally Murphy of RNZ.
A group representing independent butchers fears some may not survive an extended lockdown operating under the current rules.
Under level 4 butchers can provide contactless delivery but cannot offer click and collect to customers or physically open their doors.
Retail Meat New Zealand spokesman Kit Arkwright said for many contactless delivery was not a viable option.
“You got to look at the costs of setting that up… have they got the infrastructure to be loading up a van or vehicles to get it out to customers? Can they tap into courier services that are probably right now under immense pressure? It is a challenge for them,” he said.
Arkwright said he understood that the lockdown was impacting all New Zealanders, but there were workable solutions that would allow butchers and other primary producer retailers to keep their heads above water.
He said if level 4 restrictions were imposed for an extended period and the rules did not change, pressure would begin to mount.
“You know, we could be looking at a situation where, you know, when we do eventually come out of a lockdown, they’re not going to be there anymore because of the financial impacts that this is having on them.”
He said it had been in constant contact with the Ministry for Primary Industries and would continue to advocate on behalf of its members.
Sam Hutchison – who owns Agora Butchery in Mosgiel – said he managed to freeze some meat before the lockdown kicked in on Tuesday.
He said he is placed to do some deliveries but they do not compare to a normal day’s business.
“It’s really frustrating but we understand the need to close and we understand the reasons behind level 4 but just the concerning thing is sort of the lack of planning and lack of clarity of what we can and can’t be doing.”
Being able to provide click and collect would make a big difference to the business, he said.
“If we could provide click and collect at our front door on the high street like most butchers are placed, I think that would be a pretty practical step in the right direction.
“An eftpos machine at the front door and an open environment on the high street I can’t see to many risks there.”