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Ecommerce is back, but only for essential goods

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Ever since it was announced last week that only ‘essential business’ or those supplying them would be permitted to keep trading after New Zealand went into lockdown, retailers have been navigating a complex and confusing web of regulations. It’s been bad news for retailers who don’t sell food until now, but the Government has today decided to relax regulations for ecommerce somewhat.

The Government initially said only “food, medicine, healthcare, energy, fuel, waste-removal, internet and financial support” providers counted as essential and were allowed to trade, but over the course of last week, it gradually provided more clarity.

It confirmed on Wednesday that dairies also counted as essential businesses. Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment deputy chief executive Paul Stocks then said the Government was still making up its mind about whether it was safe to allow ecommerce for non-food items.

Today, with Retail NZ’s help, the Government has decided that the sale of essential goods such as heaters, whiteware and computers will be allowed, with conditions. 

“Essential goods are those that will keep people warm (heaters, blankets), replace key household appliances, and maintain people’s health,” says the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. “Examples of essential products are blankets, fridges, heaters and computers or tablets to work from home or do distance learning, or simply connect with people. If people can’t buy these, then we risk people venturing out of their homes more often.”

In order to be able to sell these essential goods 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 goods.
• Take all appropriate public health measures to protect their staff and customers (e.g. physical distancing, hygiene basics, appropriate personal protective equipment).
• Notify MBIE that they meet these conditions and intend to offer essential goods for sale and provide a list of those products. See covid19.govt.nz for more information on how to do this.

Those who can’t meet these conditions aren’t eligible to sell essential goods under lockdown. The Government has warned it will take further action if business are “too generous in their interpretation of what is ‘essential’ or flout these rules”.

This article was originally published on 30 March 2020 at https://theregister.co.nz/2020/03/30/covid-19-updates-ecommerce-is-back-but-only-for-essential-goods/

Question answered 03/05/20 @ 14:53 pm

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