As most of the country is in lockdown we talk to some of the Northlanders who are working as our essential services — our essential heroes. They are out in our communities making sure we are connected and have access to supplies. Today Jenny Ling talks to a dairy doing its bit to help its community.
The streets are empty, foot traffic has come to a screeching halt and business has seen a severe drop.
But a small dairy on the main street in Kerikeri is soldiering on as an essential service in a strange new world brought about by Covid-19.
Apart from the petrol stations and supermarkets, it's the only shop open during the month-long lockdown in the usually bustling Far North town.
Kerikeri Dairy manager Rucha Patel has adjusted quickly and well; she and her staff now don masks and gloves while at work.
They are constantly cleaning the eftpos machine, counter, fridges and other surfaces with disinfectant wipes, and have hand sanitiser at the ready for customers.
They have a 'one in, one out' rule which customers must now abide by, along with staying at least 2m away from staff.
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Staff are also recommending people use eftpos instead of cash so there is no risk of spreading the virus by handling notes and coins.
Customers are being nice, she said. They're all following the rules.
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"They are polite and understanding. All are kind. They understand the current situation and that it's important to keep a distance.
"It's good that we're an essential service; we're here for those who need it."
People are popping in mostly for milk, bread and eggs, Patel said, along with cigarettes and newspapers.
Kids are still pondering over lollies and ice cream.
But the dairy is no longer able to sell pies.
Patel has worked at the dairy since last September, and her husband works at Countdown Kerikeri as a supervisor in the grocery department.
Between them, the couple are busy.
But it's tough to stay afloat when business is down and there are bills and rent to pay.
Patel said she's seen an almost 50 per cent decrease in customers since the lockdown began and surrounding non-essential businesses were told to close.
They've reduced hours to 8am-3pm Monday to Sunday, partly because of the downturn, but also to protect staff who, apart from Patel, include one part-timer and one casual.
However, if they get more customers, they will consider extending the hours.
"The business is not that good, daily foot traffic is reduced as we relied on nearby shops and they're now closed, and also our work is high risk.
"It's good we are open but at the same time we need to survive."
Getting enough stock has also been challenging. Restrictions on supplies from supermarkets means they're having trouble buying some products, though essentials like bread and milk are still readily available.
But Patel is looking on the bright side.
"Hopefully this will be for just one month."
She appreciates the customers that are still frequenting the store and has a humble message for locals.
"The impact on small business is now very hard. Please come and support us, buy something from our store so we can survive."