“The Government’s Level 3 rules are arbitrary and unfair and it must allow butchers, bakers and greengrocers to open their doors if restrictions continue,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.
Schedule 2 of the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Alert Levels 3 and 2) Order 2020 sets out the businesses and services that can operate at Level 3.
“Supermarkets, petrol stations, dairies and pharmacies are able to open their doors, but butchers, bakers and greengrocers can only trade online.
“It’s commendable that the Government has published the rules online, but the inconsistencies are glaring.
“There’s no good reason for butchers, bakers and greengrocers to be treated differently.
“In Epsom, the revenue of a local butcher was down 80 percent down on Friday. Meanwhile, an iconic fresh fruit and vegetable store has simply given up and closed under the current rules.
“Forcing people to travel further to visit a smaller number of bigger and busier stores undermines the goal of stamping out the virus.
“The Government should have been ready to put in place common sense rules for higher alert levels, and if restrictions continue it must amend its order to allow a wider range of businesses and services to physically open.
“Early on, the Government took the view that in order for a business to open at higher alert levels, the politicians or bureaucrats must deem it essential. That’s a mistake. If the objective is to stop the spread of the virus, the test should be whether something can be done safely, not whether it is essential.
“Under a safety approach, businesses with safe processes can open. Instead of the objective test, ‘Can this be done in a way that is safe?’, we are facing a subjective test, ‘Does the Government believe you need this? This subjectivity has led to arbitrary and unfair rules.
“In March and April, ACT campaigned for the Government to take a ‘safety’ rather than an ‘essential’ approach to allowing businesses to open. Weeks later, it finally got the message. But now businesses are facing déjà vu. We are now reviving the campaign.
“Rather than politicians and bureaucrats infantilising New Zealanders by deciding for us what is essential, businesses that can prove they can operate without undue health risks should be able to do so.
“The Government must treat New Zealanders like adults. Being able to operate under a safety approach is essential to people protecting their livelihoods.”