Kiwi butcher shops have been deemed non-essential by the government and must remain closed during the pandemic lockdown.

The Level 4 alert, which requires all non-essential businesses to close, caused confusion amongst retail butchers who believed they were allowed to stay open. The government, however, included retail butcher shops as non-essential, believing supermarkets fulfil the same purpose.

New Zealand retail butchers were under the impression they could remain open until they heard deputy chief executive at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Paul Stocks, on national radio stating otherwise.

Retail Meat New Zealand was then inundated with queries about whether butchers could trade or not.

Stocks has previously stated that the MBIE is working through a complete list of businesses which will be permitted to remain open after the lockdown.

"We are ready to change the list if necessary. If we discover there are essential services that have not been made available we will react to that as we go,” explained Stocks.

Retail Meat New Zealand has been advising its members, through its Facebook page, to stay closed until the matter is resolved rather than breaching the Level 4 alert.