This week we will see some important decisions about Covid-19 levels in different regions. A likely scenario is that the majority of NZ will move to Level 2 in the coming days, which will enable relative freedom for garden retail and plant producers to operate. However the Auckland region is expected to remain at Level 4, significantly restricting their operations.
As Auckland is an important region for plant producers in the native plants and Greenlife (garden retail and landscape) industries, their restricted operations will affect the supply of seedlings across the country. We expect these impacts to intensify as demand ramps up in Level 2 regions with the opening of garden retail and resuming planting projects. Managing this situation will require our industry to work together.
Last week NZ Plant Producers received confirmation that the range of activities plant producers can undertake at Covid Level 4 now includes despatch and freight of seedlings and plants. Freighting plants is generally allowed at L4, including across the Auckland border. Note that free movement of plants is allowed between and within Level 3 & 2 regions.
These allowances come with a strong message from MPI that plant producers will work together as an industry to implement the Government approved Covid-19 safety standards and to adhere to the Level 4 rules. This is based on trust and our industry will be judged on how well we do this. We should expect every plant producer operating in the Level 4 area to be aware and involved in these protocols, whether they are an NZPPI member or not. These are intended to keep people safe and to enable businesses to enable critical operations to happen. Ignorance, or lack of commitment is not an excuse.
We ask that plant buyers (garden retailers and landscapers) and transporters dealing with businesses in the Auckland region work with your suppliers through the crisis.
- Being aware of the restrictions and what your suppliers can and can’t do.
- Confirm that all your Auckland suppliers have implemented the NZ Plant Producers Covid protocols
- Patience and flexibility, working together, not applying pressure to supply or work outside the rules
- Day to day communication to prioritise and manage stocks and deliveries
- Supporting the affected businesses to help them manage through the crisis and beyond
NZ Plant Producers is in constant contact with the Government and has agreed the rules that all businesses in our industry will operate under. We have communicated these to the whole industry. Last week we hosted a number of meetings and Zoom calls with Auckland based plant producers to update them on the new rules / allowances and to support them in these legally & safely. This was well attended by the NZ Plant Producers members, but we are concerned that only a handful of non-members have taken up the offer of support.
We ask that you check in with your Auckland based suppliers, particularly those that are not NZ Plant Producers members to ensure that they are aware of the safety protocols and are committed to implementing them. Check our membership list here if you are not sure who the members are. If you are concerned, get them to contact NZ Plant Producers and we will provide them with the information.
We are sending a strong message to our industry that a lack of awareness or care is not an excuse, and plant producers in the Level 4 region that are not engaged place themselves, their staff, and the rest of our industry at risk.
Our industry does not have Essential Services Status, meaning that allowances for plant producers to undertake any operations to maintain and manage plants in nurseries has to be negotiated and agreed with officials. You can imagine that this is often a long and difficult process, relying on the relationship and trust that NZ Plant Producers has built with Government over the past 5 years.
Since the beginning of latest Covid-19 Level 4 response NZ Plant Producers has been working with the Government and the primary industry bodies to represent the plant production / nursery industry during the crisis. We are working hour to hour with the Government to make sure that our industry has a say in decision making and to ensure that the rules enable our industry to operate safely while still minimising the impact of the crisis.
Over the past 2 weeks we have been advocating with Government to extend the range of operations that can be undertaken at Level 4.
- Undertake basic activities for plant survival
- Prick out and pot on plants
- Load and unload plants (receive & despatch)
Please feel free to get in touch with NZ Plant Producers if you need information, if you have questions, or if you need support.
Take care and stay safe.
Matthew Dolan | Chief Executive
New Zealand Plant Producers Incorporated