Taupō MP Louise Upston says she is horrified to learn that businesses in Cambridge have been threatened with closure for adhering to the alert level 3, step 2 rules as was stated on the COVID19.govt.nz website since the latest alert level announcement earlier the week.
“Today, I was informed by CEO Kelly Bouzaid of the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce that the Police have been in touch with regards to businesses operating outside in the open air.
“It’s my understanding that despite the alert level 3.2 rules stating that “retail can open, with customers keeping 2 meters apart”, and “outdoor gatherings of up to 25 people can go ahead with physical distancing strongly encouraged” and cafes selling takeaways, Police have said cafes are not allowed their furniture outside.
“According to the Chambers, a “Covid Response Team” (which the Chambers took as meaning a Police team tasked with enforcing COVID rules) travelled through Cambridge yesterday and assessed that businesses with sidewalk tables and chairs were breaking the rules.
“There was no such a rule on the Covid-19 website until it mysteriously appeared today”, said Kelly.
“Other parts of the Waikato in alert level 3.2, including Hamilton have businesses operating with street furniture outside. Why can Cambridge not?
“Café’s can sell takeaways, so what is the difference between a takeaway picnic on a park bench and café outdoor furniture?
Ms Upston wants to know too why cafes are all of a sudden excluded from doing business and targeted by a Police Covid Response Team.
“I am horrified. What is the point of an alert level 3.2 when it’s just simply a lockdown with the same rules as the alert level 3?
“The Prime Minister and Health Minister have repeatedly assured people that it’s safe to gather outside as transmission is less likely to occur in the open air, the very reason that picnics and gatherings are allowed outside under alert level 3.
“The fact that the Chambers had to consult with the Police about what the rules really mean is simply unacceptable and makes a mockery of the supposed step approach to the alert levels.
“I’ve consulted with the Police seeking clarification and I’m awaiting their response. This is fast becoming a joke” says Ms Upston.
She is calling on the Government to urgently clarify the rules around outside furniture and make sure all government agencies, including the Police know what they mean.
“Or have we become a Police State now?”
Media contact: Louise Upston 027 476 7887
Note to editors: The Cambridge Chamber of Commerce public post can be found at https://www.facebook.com/CambridgeChamberOfCommerce/posts/4631959420180435
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