National calls for Government to let more businesses operate during lockdown if it's safe

National says more businesses should be allowed to operate during the COVID-19 lockdown if it's safe to do so.

As part of the alert level 4 all but essential services have been forced to close down. Economists predict as many as 200,000 Kiwis could end up jobless as a result.

National's economic development spokesperson Todd McClay says the "unprecedented devastation" caused by the shutdown means the Government needs to be "more agile" in allowing businesses to operate.

"To date the decision making has been too arbitrary and there are too many inconsistencies," he said in a statement on Sunday.

"For instance, allowing dairies to open but not local butchers or greengrocers, agriculture to continue but not forestry, cigarettes to be manufactured but community newspapers cannot be printed.

"If a business proves it can operate safely, provide contactless selling and ensure physical distancing then they should be able to operate."

With New Zealand businesses closed, Kiwis have been turning to overseas shopping to get otherwise unavailable items.

On Saturday, the fashion industry warned it's feeling the impact of the lockdown and pleaded for people to respect New Zealand companies

"That was a little bit of a shock to find that certain Australian businesses were still able to ship into New Zealand but we weren't able to ship to our local customers," Stolen Girlfriends Club creative director Marc Moore told Newshub.

"Wasn't sort of a level playing field as far as I was concerned."

McClay says we should be doing all we can help revive the economy and protect businesses and jobs.

"It seems wrong that New Zealanders can order goods from overseas but can't order the same thing locally," he says in his statement.

"The thousands of small home businesses in particular that meet the COVID-19 health and safety guidelines should be allowed to recommence activity.

"Our economy has already suffered so much, we should be doing everything we can to breathe some life back into it quickly, as long as it is done safely."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has pleaded with New Zealand to stop ordering non-essential goods from overseas and hinted there could be stricter regulations coming.

"I have asked the Ministry of Business and Innovation to look into it," she said last Monday.

"There's a lot of New Zealand businesses right now who are playing by the rules, who are not trading so we can prioritise deliveries for our most vulnerable and those in need, and I would ask you to think about that as well." 

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