- New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said a four-day workweek could help the country save its faltering economy after the coronavirus downturn.
- People could use the extra day to travel across New Zealand and spend money on local economies, Ardern said in a Facebook Live on Monday.
- “If that’s something that would work for your workplace … it certainly would help tourism all around the country,” she said.
- Tourism is key to New Zealand’s economy – making up 6% of the country’s GDP – but borders and tourist sites have been shuttered during the outbreak.
- The economy is expected to shrink as much as 20% by August, and the government is working to offset the damage any way it can.
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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said a four-day workweek could help revive the country’s wilting economy from the coronavirus downturn.
Speaking in a Facebook Live video on Monday, Ardern said the country’s tourism industry was suffering especially, and a four-day work week would allow people to travel their country more easily.
“The question for me is, how do we encourage Kiwis to … get out and about and visit some of the amazing places and tourism offerings that we have,” she asked.
Ardern said that it would be up to employers to enforce this workweek, but that it would help greatly.
“I hear lots of people suggesting we should have a four-day workweek. Ultimately that really sits between employers and employees,” Ardern said.
“I’d really encourage people to think about that if you’re an employer and in a position to do so. To think about if that’s something that would work for your workplace, because it certainly would help tourism all around the country.”
Arden went live after a visit to the Rotorua region, a tourist hotspot famous for its geothermal geysers, striking scenery, and Māori culture.
Tourism is vital to New Zealand’s economy.
In the year to March 2019, it brought in $US16.2 billion, according to the government, making up 6% of GDP. One in every eight New Zealanders works in the sector.
However, the country’s economy is expected to contract by more than 20% between May and August this year, with the government left with few options to stall the crash.
Advocates of four-day-weeks say they also increase employee productivity and foster better mental and physical wellbeing.
New Zealand businessman Andrew Barnes gained international attention in 2018 when he took his 200-person company Perpetual Guardian to a four-day workweek.
“New Zealand could definitely go to a four-day week in the aftermath of COVID, and in fact, it would be a strategy to rebuild the economy and particularly the hard-hit tourism market as it pivots to a domestic focus,” he told Newshub on Monday.
“We need to retain all the productivity benefits working from home has brought (including cleaner air and a lack of gridlock, lost productivity from commuting), while helping businesses stay afloat. We have to be bold with our model. This is an opportunity for a massive reset.”
In her Facebook Live video, Ardern also reiterated supported for a unique Australia-New Zealand travel corridor, once Australia moves past its outbreak, as New Zealand has.
Many experts say New Zealand responded to the coronavirus better than any other country. The country shut down immediately and ultimately recorded 1,503 cases, with 21 deaths.
During the monthlong “Alert Level 4” lockdown people could not interact with anyone outside of their households, and supermarkets and pharmacies were the only stores still open.
Restrictions were eased at the end of April, and no second wave of infections has emerged so far.
Eight hundred thousand New Zealand children returned to school on Monday after classes were suspended on March 24.