NEW ZEALAND, Wellington. After a 58-year-old man in Auckland was confirmed to be infected with the Delta variant of corona on Tuesday last week, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern ordered a lockdown for several days as part of the no-covid strategy for the entire country, which also affects slaughterhouses and meat producers.
On Friday, more than 30 infections had already been confirmed. Slaughterhouses and meat producers are also affected by the now stricter protective measures with business closures, curfews and mandatory masking. According to press reports, some of them suspended production on Wednesday in order to implement the necessary biosecurity measures in the plants, such as tightened hygiene measures, contact tracing and employee spacing regulations. Once this is done, production can resume; however, capacity losses of up to 50 % are expected.
Hard hit are the butchers not classified as systemically important, who had to close their shops after the short-term lockdown announcement, which is why goods are in danger of spoiling. Only home deliveries to customers are allowed, but often these are restaurants, which are now also closed.
The Meat Industry Association criticised that unlike in Australia or the US, slaughterhouse workers in New Zealand were not among the prioritised group of those eligible for vaccination. In view of the outbreaks in meat industry plants in other countries, they had repeatedly urged politicians to give priority to vaccinating slaughterhouse workers, reported association executive director Paul Goldstone. But nothing had happened. He pointed out that the meat industry employs more than 25,000 people and last year generated NZ$9.2 billion (€5.5 billion), the second highest export earnings in the country after the dairy industry.