Life in Lockdown
This lockdown (Covid Alert Level 4) came upon us without notice, and emotionally threw us all into uncertainty. Initial reactions were that one case in Auckland shouldn’t mean total lockdown here in Twizel, but 24 hours later, it was a different story. Level 4 lockdown – what does that mean for High Country Salmon?
As we are a primary food producer, we are classed as essential and therefore able to operate the farm, processing, and dispatch areas of the business. Unfortunately, the fish shop and café are not allowed to open at Alert Level 4, but that doesn’t mean that those staff get to go home and not work. Most of our kitchen and front of house staff were redeployed to the processing department to vac pack, label, and sort our salmon products for dispatch. Others were tasked with menu development, costings, updating recipe books and taking care of the perishable products we were left with.
Our initial task was to sort each of our departments into two shifts (bubbles). This was a cautionary approach that worked well last year – if someone in a work bubble was compromised, only the bubble would have to isolate, rather than the whole department. While this is initially tricky to implement, it gives us certainty that business can continue. These bubbles work differently for each department – the farm staff work 3 days on then 3 days off, whereas processing has two shifts each day with the first shift starting at 5am! Even our 2-person sales team is in two bubbles!
As well as full PPE, social distancing, MPI regulations, extensive cleaning and sanitizing, and staff mapping (identifying potential sources of Covid infection or exposure), the individual bubbles all have their own areas for breaks, and no two people can go on break at the same time! It feels like isolation while at work!
With two of our main income streams shut down (café/shop and restaurant orders), we needed to focus on online sales. Luckily for us, New Zealanders love online shopping when in lockdown! This, combined with a couple of deals, has meant we have managed to keep some income coming in.
It hasn’t been easy - it is stressful at times and there is a huge amount of uncertainty, but we have a fabulous team who is doing their best to keep the business running and to get the online orders out the door! We’d like to thank everyone who has supported us throughout the year and during this lockdown. We’ve got through it before, and we’ll get through it again! Stay home, stay safe New Zealand!
Some of the team pre-lockdown celebrating Gumboot Friday.