Coronavirus: Essential goods can now be sold during lockdown

The government has decided the sale of essential goods such as heaters, whiteware and computers will be allowed during the lockdown.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) says these goods help people safely isolate, stay connected to each other and work or study from home.

'Essential goods' are those that will keep people warm, replace key household appliances and maintain people's health. Examples of essential products are blankets, fridges, heaters, computers and tablets.

MBIE says if these items can't be bought, then there's a risk more people will leave their homes more often, but there are conditions around how these items are sold in order to protect public safety.

"Businesses must operate responsibly and only make available for sale genuine essential goods - goods that are necessities of life while ensuring we restrict the movement of people and workers to combat COVID-19," it said in a statement.

"The government indicated at the start of the shutdown that we were considering whether some products could be made available online or by phone and we have decided there are essential non-food products that people should be able to buy so they can safely isolate and stop the spread of COVID-19."

MBIE warns that the public "must order responsibly" and only purchase items that are absolutely necessary to helping them live and work during the lockdown period.

In order to sell essential items, businesses must:

  • only take orders online or by phone and keep storefronts shut
  • take orders for only essential non-food goods
  • home deliver all essential goods in a contactless way and not allow people to visit stores to select or collect their items
  • take all appropriate public health measures to protect their staff and customers, for example physical distancing, hygiene basics and appropriate personal protective equipment
  • notify MBIE that they meet these conditions and intend to offer essential products for sale, and provide a list of those items. Visit for more information on how to do this.

If a business can't meet these conditions then they shouldn't sell essential goods while New Zealand is at alert level four. And if businesses are too generous with what is 'essential' or they flout the rules, the government will take further action.

"We recognise it may take some time for businesses to amend their systems in order to comply with these conditions so we ask the public to be patient," MBIE said.