Mad Butcher angers people by declaring itself an 'essential service', vowing to stay open during COVID-19 lockdown

The Mad Butcher announce they're staying open
The Kiwi company has declared itself to be an essential business, despite the government deeming butchers otherwise. Photo credit: Getty/Facebook.

As the sun rises on the official first day of Aotearoa's COVID-19 level 4 lockdown, confusion apparently remains over which 'essential businesses' are allowed to continue operating. 

Popular Kiwi butchery chain The Mad Butcher announced on Wednesday it will be staying open during the lockdown, and would be opening their doors to the public as usual at 10am on Thursday. 

"MAD BUTCHER considers that it clearly meets the essential businesses list set out on the MBIE website," a post on the Mad Butcher Facebook page reads, linking to the official list of essential services outlined on the Government's COVID-19 information page

The Mad Butcher staying open
The company has declared itself to be an 'essential service'. Photo credit: Facebook.

That list was updated on Wednesday night to explain that "butchers, bakeries and similar small-scale food retailers are considered non-essential, as similar products are readily available in supermarkets".  

But the Mad Butcher's Facebook post says it will be business as usual.

"Please shop like you normally would and remember there is no need to stockpile. Please only buy what you need and be fair to others," the company says.

"Remember, we'll remain open – MAD BUTCHER is a core essential service and we are fully dedicated to supporting Kiwis through this."

Customers took to the comments to slam decision. 

"Now is not the time for workarounds. Lives are at stake. You cannot decide whether you are an essential business, that is the Government's job," wrote one commenter 

"You are not essential services as per MBIE. If you remain open flouting the rules, I for one will no longer be a customer. You are evading the rules that are in place for a wider range of purposes. Now is not the time to be lining your pockets," wrote another. 

"How dare you open! Unless you can show you operate in a community where you are the only place that can supply the 'other things' you say make you essential then you should close," wrote another. 

There has been continual confusion over what counts as an essential business in the lead up to the level 4 lockdown, with several popular boutique Auckland bakeries now having to renege on their own inital promises to stay open. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Arden addressed the country on Monday, explaining that during the lockdown, only essential services like doctors, banks, service stations, supermarkets and pharmacies would stay open. 

"Non-essential businesses in New Zealand must now close. All bars, restaurants, cafes, gyms, cinemas, pools, museums, libraries, playgrounds and any other place where the public congregate must close their face to face function," she said. 

Primary industries, including food and beverage production and processing, have been continually classed as essential; but as Newshub understands that is predominantly in reference to foods being produced for supermarkets, which will be staying open throughout the lockdown. 

The Mad Butcher has been approached by Newshub for comment.