OPINION: The decision by Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to impose an immediate halt to live animal exports in the wake the sinking of the Gulf Livestock 1 off the coast of Japan is a sensible move.
He says people working in these essential industries during the COVID-19 crisis are doing an amazing job. Smith emphasises that it is so important for them, and New Zealand, to observe the new and much higher health standards.
He says in meat processing plants and packhouses people need to abide by the social distancing rules, but if for any specific reasons they can’t he says they should limit these to a minimum and document them.
“In a packhouse you might have 500 people in it to maintain level a of production. The meats works are covered by specific protocols and the dairy industry has quite sophisticated, large operations,” Smith told Rural News.
“The hygiene factors in these areas are so high that introducing additional measures is something they have taken to quite well.”
Smith reiterates the need for washing hands and keeping hands away from your face. He also points out that it is important for workers to stay in their bubble if they have a bubble at home and bubble at work – and not to introduce anyone else into those bubbles.
“That’s when you run the risk of not being able to trace the disease and risk contamination,” he says.
MPI says is getting its messages out through its website, other industry organisations and the rural media.
Smith says he doesn’t underestimate the communication challenge the rural community is facing – especially with variable quality broadband and lack of cell phone communication in some areas.