Kiwis eye shorter working week in post-lockdown economy
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Wednesday raised the prospect of Kiwis enjoying extra public holidays and a shorter working week to help kickstart New Zealand's post-lockdown economy.
Ardern said she wanted to encourage "nimble" and creative ideas for recovery after a strict seven-week lockdown that helped New Zealand contain COVID-19 but stalled the economy.
Suggestions included moving to a four-day week and creating extra public holidays to help boost spending in the tourism and hospitality sectors that have been hit particularly hard by the lockdown. "This is an extraordinary time and we should be willing to consider extraordinary ideas," she told reporters, adding: "I haven't ruled anything in or out."
Ardern said there is "a range of options and we should be open (minded)".
After talking to tourism industry representatives on Tuesday, the prime minister said working from home during lockdown had shown how productive employees could be if given extra flexibility. She said a four-day week could work the same way if employers were willing to try it.
"Think about if that's something that would work for your workplace, because it certainly would help tourism all around the country," she said.
New Zealand, with a population of five million, has recorded just 21 coronavirus deaths, thanks largely to the early lockdown and rigorous adherence to anti-virus measures. International borders remain closed but New Zealanders are now free to travel domestically, with tourism operators and airlines ramping up services to meet demand.