It is only a matter of time before a positive case of Covid-19 turns up on your farm, orchard or packhouse.
That is the sobering advice being given to growers by Horticulture New Zealand, but business owners in Central Otago say they have already learned lessons from working during last year’s Level 4 lockdown.
After a farming couple tested positive for the virus in November, industry groups created a Covid-19 readiness checklist to ensure farms could continue to operate and stock could be properly cared for if anyone on a farm contracted the virus and others needed to step in to help.
HortNZ has released a similar checklist for orchards and packhouses, which stresses the importance of having a plan to continue to operate if an owner, family member or employee contracts Covid.
Suncrest Orchard co-owner Michael Jones said most orchardists already knew what they had to do to manage Covid risks.
In addition to the orchard and packhouse, the family business runs the Jones Family Fruit Stall on State Highway 6 just out of Cromwell and 7th Heaven Vineyard in Bannockburn.
‘‘We’ve worked at Level 4,’’ Mr Jones said.
‘‘There’s a lot of planning going on.’’
Webb’s Fruit owner Simon Webb said the Cromwell company was preparing for when Covid arrived in the community.
His staff are picking the new season’s peaches at present as they head into the busiest time of the year.
Mr Webb said he was using the HortNZ document as a basis for his plans.
HortNZ chief executive Nadine Tunley said last week the horticulture collective, representing most product groups, had gone to the Government with how it would like to operate, as an ‘‘essential industry’’, under a nationwide Covid management strategy.