As New Zealand prepared to enter the level 4 COVID-19 alert NZPPI was working hard to ensure that plant producers and garden retailer could safely undertake restricted key activities to ensure plant survival through the lockdown period.
We argued that authorising key activities by all nurseries will protect existing stocks that will be required by many other industries once the recovery starts. Our plants are used for forestry, protecting waterways, infrastructure, producing food, and many other benefits across New Zealand.
Our current stocks would take years to replace, and a lot of the genetic material is simply irreplaceable.
We did not ask to remain in trade or to continue shipping stock between nurseries. We simply want to keep the plants that are growing today growing through Level 4 restrictions and available to the community when the recovery starts.
On 25 March MPI responded to our case advising that 'Nurseries will be able to carry out maintenance on capital stock and plants to keep them alive. They will not be able to open for business as usual'.
This authorisation includes all plant producers and garden retailers, and permits tasks critical for plant survival, such as watering, pest control, disease control, temperature and humidity control, using the minimum number of people necessary. Think of it as a skeleton crew doing the bare minimum for plant survival in the weeks ahead.
It does not include activities such as propagation, potting, pruning, administration, etc.
This authorisation is dependent upon businesses having:
In addition, nurseries producing plants for food or beverages (including grape vines and orchard trees & vegetable seedlings) are defined as Support Services and can undertake some additional activities depending on their customer’s needs.
They can continue to supply their food growing clients with goods and services essential during the Level 4 Alert or vital to the client’s ongoing operation, eg, would cause significant disruption in the weeks after the Level 4 Alert if not provided now.
Learn more your role as a Support Service at MPI’s website here.
Having a plan to keep yourselves and your staff safe from COVID-19 as they undertake these authorised activities is critical. MPI’s registration process will ask you plan to protect your workers and reduce any potential to spread of COVID-19. You must follow these plans.
NZ Plant Producers has produced a Guide to Safe Nursery Operations Under COVID-19 Level 4 Response and this may be used to develop your COVID-19 prevention plan.
MPI’s authorisation is based on a proposal submitted to Government by NZPPI and relies on exemplary behaviour and trust. We’ve simply got to do the right thing, and work within the rules. There are few sectors that have been given these rights and they can be removed at any time. MPI reserves the right to undertake monitoring and audits.
In the long run, the way we all react to the COVID-19 lockdown will influence how we’re treated in future discussions once we are back to business as usual. Our industry is under the microscope when it comes to biosecurity and our reputation and influence will grow as we all act responsibly through this crisis.
Our industry needs to come together and show leadership to face the COVID-19 crisis. Our collective ability to ability to operate in this arrangement is in recognition of the value of plants to New Zealanders’ health and wellbeing. And in recognition of the importance of nursery stock to New Zealand in the recovery phase of COVID-19 and beyond.