Supermarket giant Foodstuffs says it's ready to help distribute rapid antigen tests at cost - but they're not currently allowed to put them on the shelves.
North Island chief executive Chris Quin said it was "unusual" that currently it is prohibited to sell rapid antigen tests (RATs) at a retail level.
Quin told Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking today that they could easily start selling RATs to businesses - but they're not allowed to retail them even if they had them in stock.
His comments come after businessman Sir Ian Taylor revealed the Government had recently placed an order for 20 million RATs and he was working with Foodstuffs and Mainfreight on a potential distribution plan.
"We certainly think it's unusual compared to many other countries around the world," said Quin.
He said they would like to have more collaboration with the Government.
"There is no doubt that we have to make sure the critical work forces have the access they need first," he said.
He praised the ability to return to work with a RAT or as a close contact critical worker was a pragmatic and positive step forward.
Foodstuffs is preparing for 30 per cent of its workforce to be unavailable as Omicron takes hold.
"It's not going to be small to deal with and the preparation we've been doing essentially... masks really matter, rapid antigen tests matter, our team know how to use distancing and keep themselves as safe as possible and the booster level our team have delivered – all of that helps us stand up to what's coming," said Quin.
He said this summer supermarkets are holding 20 per cent more stock than previous years and he urged New Zealanders to keep shopping normally.
"I am hopeful that in the two years so far that we've learnt and that the people understand this system will hold up," he said.
In the few days after the country moved into the red traffic light setting, he said people were shopping unnecessarily before getting back to normal demand.
"We had a bit of a bump in the first few days last week following the announcement of the move to red and unfortunately saw the slightly predictable and unnecessary need of stocking up homes."