Coronavirus: What essential businesses will stay open during lockdown

It's been a frantic last day of shopping before the lockdown begins on Wednesday night as people try to get their hands on items they'll need over the next four weeks, but thankfully there's been more clarity around exactly what an essential business is and who can stay open. 

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment chief executive Paul Stokes said it was an "unusual situation" where we were talking about services that are essential, not those we want to have.

He says dairies are able to stay open, but will operate on a one in, one out policy. And only liquor stores that operate within a licensing trust - such as those in west Auckland and Invercargill - will stay open, all others must shut.

But Uber Eats and other food delivery services will stop operating because when they've remained open overseas, they've fast-tracked the spread of the virus. All food outlets such as cafes, restaurants, bakeries and butchers will also shut.

The big box retailers such as Bunnings and Mitre 10 will close to the general public, but they'll stay open to trade customers for essential work only.

The Warehouse had previously said it was going to remain open, only to be denied by the Government.

Retail Association NZ CEO Greg Harford says there is a risk to keeping businesses open.

"Those sorts of services can spread infection that's why they've chosen to restrict it." 

While supermarkets will remain open, it will be a completely different shopping experience.

Farro has already put up perspex screens to protect staff, and has set up designated lanes with spacing to make sure people keep their distance.

And after a hectic few weeks, the big supermarkets are doing the same.

Foodstuffs North Island CEO Chris Quin says households should think about the number of people they send to the supermarket at once.

"So sending just one person shopping out of a family whenever possible, it's just the smart thing to do. The whole idea of this right now is to reduce the chance of passing it on."  

There's also a plea to be kind to the exhausted workers.

"They have an incredible sense of duty right now. They do get that what they're doing really does help New Zealanders stay calm," Quin says.

The general consensus with the lockdown is to get rid of it as soon as we can.