New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern spoke on Wednesday of workers being able to take advantage of additional holidays and a four-day work week to boost the economy hard hit by seven weeks of confinement.
Jacinda Ardern said she wanted to encourage creative ideas and providing “flexibility”, with the aim of promoting the recovery from a strict containment which has effectively manage the epidemic coronavirus , but seized the economy.
Among the initiatives proposed is the move to the four-day week and the granting of more public holidays to stimulate spending in the particularly affected tourism and hotel sectors.
“This is an exceptional moment and we should be ready to consider extraordinary ideas,” she said to the press, saying that she had “excluded nothing”.
According to Jacinda Ardern, there are “a lot of options available and we have to be open [in spirit]”.
After meeting Tuesday with representatives of the tourism industry, the Prime Minister said that the experience of telework, during confinement, has shown how much employees can be productive in exchange for more flexibility.
According to her, the four-day week could be an option, provided that the employers are willing to try. “See if it could work […] because it would certainly help tourism across the country,” she said.
New Zealand, which has a population of five million, has so far managed the epidemic relatively effectively, thanks to very strict containment imposed from the end of March.
The country allowed its schools to reopen on Monday. While most of the restrictions ordered to contain the epidemic in New Zealand were lifted last Thursday, the reopening of schools had been postponed to allow them to prepare for the health protocols in place for welcoming students.
To date, only 1,503 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in New Zealand. The new coronavirus has killed 21 people in the archipelago.
The country’s borders remain closed, but the locals are free to travel within the country.