Imperial Tobacco’s factory in Petone, New Zealand, has been listed as an essential business by the government, allowing it to stay operational amid the coronavirus outbreak.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) stated that “ongoing supply of consumer goods needs to continue.”
“The suppliers to an essential business are also considered an essential business, including those who sell cigarettes. However, it can only sell to the essential business. It cannot be open to the public,” the MBIE said.
“Imperial can supply the demand safely,” an Imperial spokesperson said. “The number of factory staff has been reduced and are working to a production layout and shift format that maintains physical distance between them.”
Not everyone is happy about the facility remaining open, however. “We’re dealing with a major health crisis and it doesn’t seem to make any sense that a tobacco factory that produces cigarettes is an essential service when so many other [industries] have been required to shut down,” said Richard Edwards, a professor at the University of Otago and part of the Asthma Foundation’s scientific advisory board.