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Govt widens 'essential products' to include tech goods

01 Apr 2020

New Zealand businesses are now able to sell ‘essential’ non-food consumer products such as computer equipment and mobile phones, while the country remains at Alert Level 4 lockdown.

In amendments to what is classified as ‘essential’ non-food consumer products, the government is now allowing businesses to apply for permission to trade these products.

Noel Leeming is offering thousands of products it believes are ‘essential’, including computer peripherals, tablets, Google Chromecasts, mobile phones, notebooks, televisions, external hard drives, and other products.

Harvey Norman, The Warehouse, PB Tech, and other local vendors have also taken up the opportunity.

‘Essential items’ orders must comply with several conditions. The first conditions is that the ordering system must be online or over the phone – physical stores must not open and the public must not be able to visit to choose or collect their orders.

Furthermore, businesses must continue to comply with increased public health measures, such as physical distancing, hygiene, and protective equipment for all staff.

Couriers and freight companies charged with delivering orders must also take a contactless approach to delivery – the deliverer and the customer must not interact physically.

Businesses that repair or install essential goods can operate if their work is necessary to commence or maintain an essential good.

But before businesses can start trading essential items, the government warns that it will not be taking breaches or rule-bending lightly.

“Businesses will need to form a judgment as to which of their products are genuinely essential. We expect businesses and households to act responsibly when they decide what these essential goods might be,” a statement says.

“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.”

“New Zealanders are relying on each other to keep everyone safe and stop the spread of COVID-19. We expect businesses to minimise their product offerings and households to only order goods that are absolutely necessary. If businesses are too generous in their interpretation of what is essential or flout these rules, Government will take further action.”

Businesses must notify the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) before they start selling essential non-food products.

To apply, businesses must go to MBIE’s website. They will need their New Zealand Business Number (NZBN) and their RealMe login. 

“To have visibility of the extent of activity, MBIE is asking businesses to let it know they are operating and what essential products they are offering.”

Read more about what classifies as essential non-food consumer products on MBIE’s website.