Wellington, March 31, 2020
The government has allowed supermarkets to remain open on Easter Sunday (April 12,) this year but employees cannot be forced to work, Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Iain Lees-Galloway said in a press release.
However, these businesses must close on Good Friday (April 10).
“Supermarkets will be able to open on Easter Sunday during our COVID-19 lockdown in order to ensure we are able to buy essential food, drink and household goods. The Government recognises that communities are concerned about getting essential items and there are few alternatives to supermarkets at this time,” Mr Lees-Galloway said.
Employees would have the right to refuse on Easter Sunday, he said.
“I encourage everyone to consider the strain on supermarkets at present and to only shop for what you need as usual, and keep using the distancing rule when shopping,” Mr Lees-Galloway said.
He said that the Labour Inspectorate has been told not to penalise supermarkets that remain open but will assist workers who have been coerced into working on Easter Sunday.
It is understood that the government consulted supermarkets, unions and community agencies before deciding on the issue of Easter Sunday trading.
Staying open on Easter Sunday is permissible under the existing provisions of the Shop Trading Hours Act 1990 and does not require a law change.
“The present circumstances are such that supermarkets will meet the Shop Trading Hours Act 1990 exemption this year. Under current law, supermarkets will be permitted to open – as the circumstances are likely that they will meet the Section 4 (1)(a) exemption this year, even though they don’t in other years; other than those allowed by their local authority,” Mr Lees-Galloway said.
This exemption applies where a shop meets strict ‘restricted goods’ and ‘reasonable quantities’ conditions.
Goods for sale: (i) the goods for sale include nothing that is not food, drink, a household item, a personal item, … of a kind that people may reasonably need to be able to buy at any time; and (ii) the quantity of goods for sale is no greater than that sufficient to meet the demands of the people who live or are staying in the area where the shop is, and people (other than people travelling in order to buy goods at the shop) travelling through the area.