Coronavirus: Fonterra chooses to stay at alert level 4

The dairy giant has around 12,000 New Zealand staff.
The dairy giant has around 12,000 New Zealand staff. Photo credit: Newshub

Dairy giant Fonterra is to stay under COVID-19 alert level 4 restrictions, despite the Government's announcement that the country will move to level 3 next week.

As an essential service, the co-op has been able to keep operating, under strict health and safety rules to stop any spread of the virus.

Speaking in a business webinar on Monday, Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell said it made the decision to keep level 4 restrictions in place prior to the announcement.

"We have  already gone out to our farmers and staff and said irrespective of the decision we will remain under a level 4 scenario within Fonterra," Hurrell told The Trans-Tasman Business Circle webinar.

"We just can't afford the risk of any disruption to our supply chains," he said.

No decision had been made on when restrictions would be eased.

"We said we will stay with level 4 for quite some time and that has been well received."

Hurrell said the co-op's crisis team had been mobilised when coronavirus became an issue in China, its largest market, in January.

That had been ramped up when it became an issue in New Zealand.

"In New Zealand where the vast majority of staff are based, around 12,000 people, large manufacturing plants and tanker fleets, we really mobilised our crisis team, which is about a dozen people across our entire business."

Hurrell said it was important key industries were able to start operating, but advised New Zealanders to stick to the restrictions in place.

"Listen to the advice out of Wellington, we just need to and abide by rules."