The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has set up a register for safe practice in the sector as New Zealand moves to National Alert Level Four in response to COVID-19, says Director-General Ray Smith.
“Alongside Minister O’Connor I met with more than 90 sector stakeholders by conference call,’’ Smith says. “It was an extremely constructive meeting and I know that everyone who took part wants to do their best for New Zealand as we meet the COVID-19 challenge.”
Smith says MPI requires safety assurances from operators that their processes protect workers and the public by limiting interactions between staff and reducing the potential spread of COVID-19.
“The Government’s declaration of essential services approves those operating in the primary sector, but we just need to verify that operators are following safe practices.
“We are asking eleven critical questions about how you intend to stop any spread of COVID-19 (please see registration from here https://www.mpi.govt.nz/covid-19-essential-primary-sector-service-registration/ ),” says Smith.
There are a couple of simple questions operators can ask themselves before registering:
1. Do you have five or fewer people (including the owner) working at each business site?
2. Can you achieve social distancing measures between staff in your workplace, including travelling, to and from work? – If you answer YES to both of those questions, then you do not need to fill in the form. – If you answered NO to either of these questions, you MUST fill in the form. – If in doubt, fill in the form.
“Production chains should work to achieve separation between staff and adopt mitigation measures, such as protective gear and equipment, where possible,” says Smith.
Smith says MPI will do its best to advise and support the sector over the coming days and weeks. “We are asking businesses to be registered by 5:00pm on Friday 27 March 2020. They should keep operating and are expected to already have health procedures in place.
“We’re all working together to ensure that our vital food production sectors can operate safely,” says Smith.
Primary sector businesses may contact MPI at 0800 00 83 33 or email@example.com for further details on registering or the registration process.