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New Zealand in lockdown but harvest can continue

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is to enforce a month-long lockdown of the country to slow the spread of Covid-19, but winery operations can continue.

Addressing the nation today, Ardern has given New Zealanders two days to prepare for a month-long lockdown.

The country is now in Alert Level 3 and all-non essential businesses, as well as schools, must close their doors within the next 48 hours. On Wednesday, the country will move to Alert Level 4 and all New Zealanders, except those working in essential services, will be required to stay at home and cease all social interaction.

The news comes as the country’s wine industry is in the middle of harvest. There were initial concerns that wine businesses would be considered non-essential and the vintage would come to an abrupt halt.

However, speaking to the drinks business, New Zealand Winegrowers’ marketing manager for Europe, Chris Stroud, stated that picking would be allowed to continue.

“The government has decided that the wine industry is deemed an essential business and so winery operations can continue to operate, not including restaurants and cellar doors,” he said.

“The weather has been excellent so we are looking forward to a high quality harvest and vintage is still in progress.”

Wine exports were valued at NZ$1.86 billion last year, and wine is New Zealand’s ninth most exported product.

New Zealand has recorded a total of 36 new coronavirus cases bringing the total number to 102 as of 23 March.

Announcing the new measures, Ardern said: “I say to all New Zealanders: the government will do all it can to protect you. Now I’m asking you to do everything you can to protect all of us. Kiwis – go home.”

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