With supermarkets around the country closing temporarily due to Covid-19 exposures, questions are swirling around what might happen if Waiheke Countdown had to close its doors. Waiheke Local Board members say the island could face a civil emergency situation if the supermarket were forced to shut up shop. 

A Countdown spokesperson says contingency planning for such a situation is under way, however no detail on what the contingency plan might entail has been provided to Gulf News or the local board as yet.

“When we are notified that someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 has visited one of our stores, we undertake a deep clean, which is in addition to the thorough cleaning that is undertaken each day,” the spokesperson told Gulf News. “As per the instructions from the Ministry of Health, any team members who were working during the time of the visit are asked to self-isolate and be tested. 

“We absolutely recognise the impact this type of situation would have on our Waiheke store, and that is why we are working across our store network and with temporary team members to make sure we have contingency planning in place.”

Countdown had more than 2100 staff isolating across New Zealand in late August, with eight stores temporarily closed due to low team numbers. The supermarket giant isn’t a living wage accredited employer, however a spokesperson says frontline team members are receiving an alert level 4 bonus, equivalent to an additional 10 percent more per hour. The Waiheke store has advertised regular vacancies over the past couple of months, and as of Wednesday 1 September, seven positions needed filling.

Local board chairperson Cath Handley says island operators would struggle to meet demand if Waiheke Countdown closed its doors.

“In the short term, there likely wouldn’t be enough stock for the island – it would seriously impact the availability of goods.

“Smaller stores would need vast amounts more stock, more staff, and potentially security to deal with increased numbers and queues. This scenario would probably pitch us into a civil emergency situation, and, given the circumstance, we have every right to know what Countdown’s plans are.” • Sophie Boladeras

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