Shops in the Waikato district can continue to open on Easter Sunday after Waikato District Council decided to keep its existing policy.
The policy, required to be reviewed every five years, was adopted at Council’s meeting on Monday 28 February.
During the consultation period a total of 121 submissions were received. Of those, 46 were in support of keeping the policy, 74 against, and 1 suggested that only essential services should trade.
Many of those who did not support the policy expressed concern for the wellbeing of business owners and workers, stating that they wanted to make sure there were no barriers to them being able to be with their families and rest.
However, those in support of the policy said, after having to close during recent Covid-19 lockdowns, shops should be able to open to help recoup their losses.
Councillors acknowledged that wellbeing is extremely important but noted that businesses did not have to open, and employees also had the right to refuse to work on Easter Sunday. Additionally, they noted that many businesses are still finding it challenging because of the impacts of COVID-19 and lockdowns and they did not want to restrict another day of trading for businesses that are already “doing it tough”.
Many of those who supported the policy expressed an opinion that only a minority of the population is religious and that business owners should be able to trade, and employees able to work, if they choose to do so.
During the hearing, Councillors noted that they wanted a consistent approach across the district.
Taking all these factors into consideration, the motion was passed on an 8-5 vote.
Consultation was held from 1 December 2021 to 16 January 2022.