17 Apr 2020

Act Party leader David Seymour gives govt dressing down over retail sector restrictions

6:52 am on 17 April 2020

ACT Party leader David Seymour is questioning why the the retail sector will still face such heavy restrictions under alert level 3.

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David Seymour says the announcement to broaden from just essential businesses is encouraging, with the exception of retail. Photo: RNZ /Dom Thomas

The government has outlined what businesses and the public can expect under alert level 3, ahead of a decision being made on Monday whether to lift the level 4 lockdown.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says under level 3 public-facing bars, restaurants, cafes, malls and retail stores will remain closed.

But, food delivery, drive-through, online shopping and click and collect can begin.

David Seymour said the announcement to broaden from just essential businesses is encouraging, with the exception of retail.

"It is not clear why a dairy with a one-in one-out policy can open, but other types of retail cannot and that will be damaging and in some cases devastating for those businesses for no clear public health gain," he said.

David Seymour said he appreciated the government was under pressure, but there would still be uncertainty for businesses exiting lockdown.

But Green Party co-leader James Shaw defended the government's decision to keep some retail stores closed.

Shaw said the dairies were only open because not everyone could access a supermarket.

"In an ideal world, they wouldn't be open either," he said.

"We recognise that some retailers will feel that it is unfair a dairy is allowed to open while they can't, but the whole point here is that we don't want people congregating at shops at all."

He believed the government had got the balance right with its level 3 guidelines.

He added it was important to continue to be led by science and health officials' advice.

"The worst thing that can happen is that we loosen up too soon, whilst we have still got new cases of the virus emerging in the community and we could actually just blow all of the progress we've made over the last few weeks," he said.

Shaw said level 3 won't be easy, and there may be a few slip ups while people adjust to the new rules, but the guidelines allow the country to start the process of getting back to work.

  • 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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