As I write this from the comparative isolation of my home near Ohakea, the world feels like a very different place than it was four weeks ago when we entered level 4 lockdown.

For a start we have seemingly avoided the worst of Covid-19 and our isolation has certainly played a great role in that, as has our ability to secure our border.

There is an advantage to being a small group of islands at the bottom of the world with a very effective moat!

My offices are continuing to operate remotely with all of my staff working from home.

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We're still getting plenty of inquiries.

Everything from the wage subsidy and people worried about its potential misuse and concerns about the availability of the flu vaccination, to immigration issues, worries about rent from both the landlord and tenant's perspective; and the health and welfare of prisoners.

We are certainly open for business so please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

I've spent a lot of time on the phone too, talking with business owners including retail, hospitality, farmers, foresters and those involved in tourism and agriculture service industries.

While many are cautiously optimistic, there are some who are very concerned.

Without doubt, the decisions made by the Government and others over the coming months will have a significant effect on the health, economic security and future prosperity of New Zealand and all New Zealanders.

We are very much in this together.

The transition to level 3 from next Tuesday will be welcomed by many.

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The main difference between level 3 and level 4 is an increase in economic activity.

The number of people able to work is projected to double from the current 500,000 to an estimated 1 million under level 3.

It's great for forestry, manufacturing and construction but it still leaves much of the country playing a waiting game and in the case of many small businesses, facing financial ruin.


I am particularly concerned about our region's cafes, bakeries, restaurants and bars, along with hairdressers and beauty salons and independent retail stores, which will continue to be hamstrung by the level 3 rules.

A few months ago these places were thriving and added a vibrancy and unique social dynamic to our cities and towns.

I believe the Government seriously needs to address the grievances of these small businesses and offer further financial support as soon as possible or we risk losing many of them.

Tourism has been hit hard too and it's an important industry in the Rangitikei. Perhaps it's not all bad though as our region will also be presented with opportunities to do things a bit differently as a result of Covid-19.

With no foreign workers able to come into New Zealand for the winter season, there must surely be opportunities for New Zealanders to replace this significant labour market which descends on National Park every year.

If training is required for a potential new workforce then let's get it under way as soon as possible.

Of course New Zealand has one big advantage as we move to recover from the inevitable economic shock of Covid-19 - and that's our ability to produce food for the world.

While the international recession will cause challenges for the industry with respect to market access, transport and price, the export receipts earned by selling our meat, fish, vegetables, milk, fibre and wood offshore are vital to our economic revival.

Take care and stay safe. Call if you need help with anything. We're in this together.

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Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website


Ian McKelvie is MP for Rangitikei.