A leaked email from New Zealand’s Ministry of Culture and Heritage has outlined that non-daily print media will not be able to continue publishing through the country’s COVID-19 Level 4 lockdown.
The email, obtained by NZ online magazine The Spinoff, is said to be sent from the Ministry to the heads of the NZ’s magazine and community newspaper associations, stating:
- For news and media to be an essential service it needs to focus on timely news and current affairs
- Daily newspapers are included within this definition
- Printed periodicals and non-daily publications are not considered essential.
NZ went into Level 4 lockdown at midnight on Wednesday 25 March, for an expected period of four weeks. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern advised New Zealanders to act like they have the coronavirus.
All New Zealanders not working in businesses classed as ‘essential services’ must stay at home, unless taking essential trips, stay local and keep their distance from others. The staff of non-essential businesses that can operate remotely may still work, as long as it is from home.
Businesses that are classed as essential have been urged to operate in a way that minimises the risk of transmistting the virus, including restricting activity to only what is essential during the Alert Level 4 period.
Before the Level 4 lockdown came into effect, the Magazine Publishers Association of New Zealand told its members that it had written a letter to NZ’s Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment outlining that magazines should be considered an essential service because they are a trusted news source and important for the wellbeing of self-isolating people.
NZ’s distribution chain for magazines is classed as an essential service (printers and NZ post), however the association said that it was uncertain if printing companies would be able to print magazines deemed non-essential, or if NZ Post would continue to deliver non-essential magazine post.
The NZ Government essential services information page states “If your business is part of the supply chain for essential businesses, it may continue to supply those critical products and services to essential businesses only.”