Leading Hawke's Bay businesswoman Mavis Mullins has little doubt there will be businesses that do not survive the Covid-19 crisis lockdown.

But she hopes that society will come out of the emergency better equipped for the future, she said after Monday's announcement by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of a minimum four-week lockdown starting in just 48 hours as New Zealand tries to avoid the mass illness and fatalities that have hit China, Italy, Spain, the UK and some other countries.

Mullins, who graduated from woolhandling in the family shearing business to a place in the Business Hall of Fame and sitting in board and other meetings via Skype and Zoom twice or more a day while self-isolating at home near Dannevirke, reacted almost with relief that the announcement had come.

"I think some people thought maybe it could have come earlier, but perhaps we weren't ready," she said.


"The big thing is that we now know where we are for the next four weeks, and everyone will pull together," she said.

"Maybe it's not a bad thing, as a planet maybe we need something like this, to really make us stop and think we have become quite complacent, as a people.

"I am feeling really sad for those such as in the forestry industry," she said. "They have felt this first, they've already been in it for a while."

"There are business, small businesses particularly, which are not going to last," she said.

"Hopefully the outcome out of all of this will be a kinder, more thoughtful nation of people."

The variation in business is close at hand for Mullins, with one son involved in a café business which must close its doors in main-street to play its role in reducing risks of community infection, and a daughter now running the shearing business – not regarded as an essential industry but now needing to deal with such issues as animal welfare.

Mullins believes the Prime Minister is handling the crisis "really, really well" and the leadership cannot be faulted.

The Hawke's Bay Chamber of Commerce has opened a Facebook page to keep businesspeople talking to each other, and sharing how they can and are coping with what chief executive Karla Lee says are huge responsibilities to staff and families as well as trying to ensure their businesses survive.


She comes with the experience for the job in planning in adversity and disaster, with a background in the not-for-profit sector of agencies such as Red Cross and Presbyterian Social Services.

She said while businesses would have started preparing last week, or earlier, in terms of whether the announcements were expected it would have been a case of "preparing for the worst, hoping for the best".

She said businesses would realise that it's not just one industry that's hit, and urges businesspeople to talk together – the purpose of the social media approach.

"We do need to reduce as much fear as possible, and people have to reformat to navigate their way through," she said.

She recalled one exercise she had gone through in emergency training, and believes those who help and share will be the ones whose businesses survive.