From the Summerfruit NZ chairman
I’m sure you will be receiving a multitude of emails on the Covid-19 situation and I don’t want to add to your bulging in-boxes unnecessarily, but I do want you all to take a moment to think clearly on your reaction to, and plans for, the days and weeks ahead.
The Ministry for Primary Industries have/are creating a system that enables food production, processing and distribution in primary industries to continue to operate whilst the country remains at Alert Level 4 in response to Covid-19. This is not as of right, and to comply, individual businesses need to register with MPI and follow some new rules.
As MPI’s director general, Ray Smith said: 'The Covid-19 virus will not modify its behaviour to suit your business, you must modify your corporate behaviour to suit the virus ... If you cannot modify your business practices, [orchard behaviour, packhouse workforce, etc] to suit the mandates and prevent transmission of the virus you must close, essential categorisation or not.'
Summerfruit NZ has a link on our Covid-19 Guidance for summerfruit growers webpage to the MPI registration page. Carefully consider if you wish to register and establish an essential business categorisation. If you are successful and, therefore, allowed to have staff leave their domestic lockdown to come to work, please remember this; you are responsible for their behaviour after that, travelling to work, at work, from work and lockdown at home. They must be kept separated, sanitised, and protected. MPI will close down businesses, whether or not they have been deemed essential, that they determine to be non-compliant. If you don’t apply by 5pm this Friday and get accepted by MPI as an essential business, you must close down as all other non-essential businesses in New Zealand are doing from today.
We have one chance at this – accept the Government's requirements and be seen to work together as an industry or accept the consequences. Please make your decisions in the best interests of not just your business, but think of your wider community and the uncertainty we are all facing. Seriously, if it is not absolutely necessary to be at work in the next four weeks, if some non-essential tasks can be deferred, I urge you to consider shutting down. This is a crisis, but if it goes on for longer than necessary, then our future prosperity will be at risk.