The two government departments continue to send out mutually contradictory messages regarding allowing fruits and veggie shops to function as "Essential Services" during Alert Level-4 complete lockdown. 

The latest response received by the Indian Weekender to its earlier enquiry about the official permission around Fruits and veggie shops, received this morning conveyed the Government's latest decision to deem those businesses as non-essential, and hence to remain closed during the lockdown period. 

"The Government needs to put in restrictions on which business can and cannot supply essential services to minimise the spread of Covid 19. The more businesses we have open, the harder it will be to contain the spread of Covid 19. Fruit and vegetable stores are deemed as non-essential as the products they sell can be bought from supermarkets. Supermarkets are classified as essential services," an official spokesperson of MBIE said.

"The Government has been closely monitoring how the Essential Services requirements have been operating since they were introduced, and we have been listening to feedback and making changes as we go where necessary. We signalled from the beginning that what constitutes an essential service or business may change during this period of shutdown. To get the most up to date information on what is an essential service," the spokesperson further said. 

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However, it's not clear if it overrides MPI directive

However, it was not clear if the MBIE's latest verdict will override permission granted to several fruits and veggie stores that the Indian Weekender has reliably learnt had been able to seek official permission from the office of the Ministry of Primary Industry on Friday, March 28.

The office of the MPI had initiated a registration process from businesses in primary food and agriculture industry to establish if their businesses can remain operational under Covid 19 Alert level 4 lockdown. 

Friday, March 28, 5 pm was the deadline of the registration from the businesses, and it is expected that MPI officials will start inspecting business premises from today to see if strict hygiene and social-distancing rules are being adhered 

Notably, based on email confirmation received from the office of the MPI, a few fruits and veggies shops, the Indian weekender had reliably learnt, were able to open their shops on Saturday, after their shops were earlier closed by the New Zealand Police. 

The Indian Weekender understands that it is a fast-evolving situation and the Government is continuously assessing and updating about the eligibility of businesses to function as "essential services."

However, it is not clear, which Ministry's decision will have the final verdict with regards to the fruits and veggies shops. 

The Indian Weekender has sent another enquiry to the office of the MBIE about more clarification on which government department's verdict was full and final at the time of publishing of this story, and a response is awaited.