The Indian Weekender is continuing to raise the issue with the high-level government official about why the Indian grocery stores are not being allowed to fall under essential services that are allowed to remain operational during the Level 4 alert complete lockdown phase that started from Thursday, March 26. 

After a persistent followup in the lead up to the beginning of the lockdown period, a spokesperson of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Enterprise (MBIE) had confirmed the Indian Weekender last night that all Asian supermarkets were supposed to remain close. 

“Asian supermarkets are to close during alert level 4 as the foods sold in Asian supermarkets are largely also sold in larger supermarkets. We are trying to prevent community transmission by ensuring people limit movement to their suburbs,” the Media spokesperson said. 

However, many anxious members of the broader Indian community have been reaching out to the Indian Weekender with their requests as they have been actually abiding by Prime Minister’s repeated requests to avoid any PANIC BUYING as largely seen all around in New Zealand doing the right thing and now they are the ones who are on the losing end. 

Suresh Rane called the Indian Weekender saying, “I have been staying away from any panic buying during all this time trying to show the right example to the majority of people around us who were being inconsiderate in panic buying and leaving little food for others.”

“I never thought in my wildest imaginations that I will be the one who would be left behind,” Mr Rane said exasperatedly. 

Jagdish Lamba told the Indian Weekender, “This is what is called a miscommunication on the part of the government and their officials. On one hand, they are encouraging people to not indulge in any panic buying and do the right thing, and on the other hand, they have closed down the Indian grocery stores. 

“They could have communicated loud and clear in advance, given that a lot of day to day spices and food items that we get from our ethnic grocery stores are not available in large supermarkets,” Mr Lamba said.

The Indian Weekender is already in conversation with senior government officials in the government’s task force to lead the national effort in managing coronavirus pandemic and who had assured that they will be having a second look on this important issue for our Kiwi-Indian community. 

The Indian Weekender will keep the community updated as we hear more on this. Stay tuned.