Changes have been made to allow butchers to process pork, only for supply to supermarkets or other processors or retailers that are open, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor has announced.
“We carefully weighed the risk of allowing butchers to open their shops for retail customers, but the risk of spreading COVID-19 is too great so that will not be allowed”, Minister O’Connor said.
“The aim in Alert Level 4 is to minimise retail outlets being open in order to minimise risk to public health. This decision maintains that aim while also ensuring there are no unintended adverse impacts on animals.
“Butchers are an essential part of the supply chain in New Zealand for pork. At present, there is not enough capacity to hold surplus pigs on farms or pig carcasses in processing facilities, which could create an animal welfare issue. We need them to operating to ensure that pigs can continue to be processed and are not backing up on farms leading to animal welfare issues.
”The pork industry is domestically focused with limited export to the Pacific Islands so there aren’t as many avenues to offload product into other markets.
“The pork industry raised this issue with Government and Cabinet agreed that there were strong enough grounds for a change to be made to address specific concerns in relation to animal welfare.
Mr O’Connor says butchers who choose to operate will need to follow health guidelines for distancing in the workplace to ensure staff safety and prevent the spread of COVID-19.