Coronavirus: Widespread confusion over what is an essential service and what isn't

There's still widespread confusion around exactly what constitutes an essential service.

Some businesses have even gone so far as to declare themselves one even when they're not.

It's known supermarkets and pharmacies definitely will be open during the four weeks New Zealand is in lockdown. 

But what about dairies, bakeries, and butchers? Simple question but try understanding this:

"Around the country, there are different circumstances for different communities," Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment deputy chief executive Paul Stocks said. 

"We want to make sure all communities have access to essentials, and whether that is a small supplier or a large supplier is not the key test - it's how we make essential goods available." 

If people are low on petrol, stations will be open - just make sure you sanitise before and after pumping.

If you need a warrant of fitness or service for your vehicle, you'll have to wait. 

But what if people don't have a car and need to get the supermarket - can they take a taxi or Uber?

"If you take a taxi then you will have to sit in the back seat and the greater distance as possible," Stocks explains.

Some public transport will continue but people are urged to stay off it if possible. Rubbish will be collected, banks and ATMs will still have cash, and NZ Post will continue to run.

Big Mac's will be off the menu - all takeaways will be closed for the four weeks. 

Many retail stores have also already locked up. Warehouse stores across the country said on Tuesday morning they would stay open but Stocks shut that down.

"The Government has not decided that the warehouse will be open," he said. "We are working through those firms that will be required or allowed to be open."  

So if The Warehouse gets an exemption, then what about Mitre 10 or Bunnings? Who is really sure what is going on or when it might be sorted?

"I expect far greater clarity by tonight [Monday] on the website," Government controller John Ombler said. "It won't be perfect we'll have to keep finessing it - we're in uncharted territory."