Service station food and beverage sales quietly banned

In News3 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineAugust 25, 2021

The Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) amended rules under the current Covid-19 level 4 lockdown overnight on Monday 23 August, to prevent service stations from selling hot beverages and bakery goods. With this situation coming to light over the past day, industry associations are up in arms.

In a media statement this morning, Motor Trade Association (MTA) chief executive Craig Pomare said the association and its members have been left frustrated and confused.

“More than ever we’re looking to the Government and its agencies for certainty, timely communications, and some thought for what’s going on for small businesses.

“This sort of late in the day flip flop is incredibly disappointing. How are businesses meant to operate when the rules keep changing?” Pomare commented.

The Road Transport Association has stated it is working with the MTA to address the issue.

RTF CEO Nick Leggett said: “We have had similar reports from truck drivers about facilities being shut at service stations, after they have been closed down by police. The humane thing to do is to provide toilets, water and hot food for people who are keeping our country running at a time of high stress.”

Pomare questioned the poor communication by the MBIE and its grounds for making the change a week into lockdown. (As of publication of this news story the MBIE news and media site has no announcements or updates on the situation.)

“MTA’s Service Station members had been following all hygiene and social distancing requirements when selling hot beverages and unpacked food since the country went to Alert Level 4. This followed MTA seeking clarification from MBIE about this on 19 August,” he added.

“We know service stations want to [serve essential workers], and we are working with officials to try and clarity the situation and put the base of essential workers who are carrying food for the country on the back of their trucks,” Leggett said.

“I understand the nature of the virus strain we’re dealing with requires a high level of precaution, but the fact is we live in an interdependent society. Slamming the door shut in the faces of those ensuring our ability to lock down is a reality at all is preposterous. This needs addressing from every corner of the industry and I would urge operators to swing in behind the RTF’s efforts to communicate our frustration to officials,” urged New Zealand Trucking magazine editor, Dave McCoid.