30 Mar 2020

Public able to report price gouging during Covid-19 outbreak - PM

5:31 pm on 30 March 2020

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says while she has found no evidence of price gouging during the Covid-19 outbreak, the public will be able to to report any they see.

The Prime Minister has given the latest updates on the government's fight against the impact of Covid-19 at her weekly post-Cabinet media conference.

Watch the PM's latest update here:

Ardern said a special email had been set up that was dedicated to potential price gouging: pricewatch@mbie.govt.nz

She asked people to send photos and receipts to the email so reports of price gouging could be investigated.

"No-one wants to see anyone take unfair financial advantage from this extraordinary period.

"To be clear, it is not illegal for businesses to increase their prices - but the Fair Trading Act prohibits misleading and deceptive content, and false representation."

She said if a business gave a reason for an increase, it had to be true, or it risked breaching the Act.

Some online anecdotes about price gouging were already being followed up, Ardern said.

Greengrocers would not be opened, in order to limit contact between people, said Ardern.

She said the the country could maintain isolation practices with a limited amount of stores open.

"It also means we have fewer workers at risk. For every greengrocer, for every bakery, for every retail store that is open, that's a workforce that is also put at risk and we need to minimise that as much as possible."

Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi told Checkpoint supermarkets have "got to play the game".

"There's got to be some good faith here. If we see a pattern of prices heading north that can't be necessarily explained, because of supply chain issues or seasonal issues, then we'll be having a chat to them."

Ardern also said the government was liaising with businesses on Easter trading hours, and a final decision was expected tomorrow.

The government was looking at the issue now because it was important for supermarkets to restock, and this was factored into the Easter trading decisions. The PM pointed out that dairies would continue to be open during this period anyway.

Earlier today, Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said the total number of Covid-19 cases in the country now stands at 589.

Sixty-three people have now recovered and 12 people are currently in hospitals around the country - two are in ICU.

  • If you have symptoms of the coronavirus, call the NZ Covid-19 Healthline on 0800 358 5453 (+64 9 358 5453 for international SIMs) or call your GP - don't show up at a medical centre

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