Covid-19: countdown removes restrictions on goods for now

There appear to be different approaches taken by supermarkets to limited sales of certain products, with the countdown not having any in place on products except for Panadol and ibuprofen.

The countdown indicates that it can impose restrictions on products within hours if necessary. File photo
Photo: RNZ / Nate McKinnon

The countdown’s general manager of corporate affairs, Kiri Hannifin, said morning report they found that putting restrictions in place could be counterproductive.

“If we needed restrictions, if people were buying too much or if we ran out of stock, we would put restrictions in place. But we don’t need them right now,” Hannifin said.

“We only have a limit on Panadol and ibuprofen, but that has nothing to do with Covid, it has to do with the coroner’s recommendation for abuse.”

Restrictions could increase anxiety instead of preventing panic buying, she said.

“And that’s counterproductive because it just clears the shelves…we think it causes unnecessary worry.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson has previously warned that it is “inevitable” that there will be an impact on the supply chain as Omicron spreads through the community, but he said officials s would endeavor to minimize disruption.

If there was a surge in purchases following a supply disruption, as evidenced by Australia, the countdown could easily impose restrictions within hours, Hannifin said.

“It’s been very difficult for our business in Australia and they’ve seen significant disruption and a lot of supply issues in stores, which basically started at the farm or the food factory,” she said. declared.

“So we’re anticipating that. I guess we expected that before now. We kind of thought we might see some issues or problems last week, but we’re doing pretty well as a country, so we’ re… sort of preparing for the disruption, but not seeing it yet.

“But if it’s like Australia it will be a bit difficult for us and the Kiwis will have to be a bit patient because there will be gaps in the shelves, but hopefully if we continue like we are doing in this moment because a country and scanning and testing and wearing masks, we might not see it as important.”

The countdown was also gearing up for up to 30% of staff to be absent at any time, at any site, Hannifin said.

“We have different plans, depending on where it is in the country. So for Auckland or Wellington, it’s very easy to manage, [but] it’s much more difficult to manage in Taupō or Queenstown, where there is only one store.

“And of course the distribution centers – we need around 85% of our team to operate [it]so we have different types of Covid protocols depending on where we are and what we’re doing.”

There is already a store where a section had to be closed due to team members being isolated, Hannifin said.

“So we’re kind of already doing that, but nowhere near as much of an impact as last August when we had 3,000 people, so we’ve closed nine stores in Auckland to deal with that. So we can close stores , we can reduce the hours, we can close the grocery store or the bakery, we can close a particular aisle.”

She said they were very careful about areas where there were only stores that supplied them.

“In these areas, such as Dargaville for example, we see if we are going to let you know RAT [rapid antigen] testing at this store to kind of have high Covid checks, stop online delivery, really reduce service to very basic foods and groceries so we can operate with, say, 60% of the team.

But it wasn’t just about the logistics of keeping a store open and functioning, Hannifin said they also wanted to ensure staff wellbeing.

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