Retail NZ and Hospitality NZ say they have concerns about the Government’s request for retail workers to get COVID-19 tests, and the Ministerial announcement about rent relief for future COVID-19 lockdowns.

“The retail sector was surprised by Dr Bloomfield’s request today that retail workers in Auckland to have two COVID-19 tests over the next week,” Greg Harford, Retail NZ Chief Executive said today.

“Level 3 is a difficult environment for retailers to be working in, and many are already receiving significant levels of abuse from customers. This new request for surveillance testing of retail and hospitality workers will lead to additional stress.

“If it is important to maintain surveillance testing of retail workers, then the Government should roll out low-impact saliva testing that can be done in the workplace, rather than requiring workers to undertake an invasive PCR test and travel to testing sites that are only open limited hours.

“Retail and hospitality are already severely restricted at Alert Level 3, and businesses are operating under strict health and safety protocols. Only a very limited number of essential stores are allowed to be open to the public, with only contactless click and collect services or contactless delivery available from other businesses. These restrictions have been designed and imposed by Government to restrict the spread of COVID-19 and come at a massive economic cost. It is just not reasonable to ask every retail worker to undergo testing, and it is not reasonable to expect employers to provide time off for this.

Hospitality New Zealand CEO Julie White agreed. “The testing request is a ludicrous suggestion while we operate contactless businesses, suffering from low revenue, and when some businesses cannot even open.”