Shops in the Waikato district can continue to open on Easter Sunday, if they wish, after Waikato District Council decided to keep its existing policy.

The policy, which is required to be reviewed every five years, was adopted at Council’s meeting on Monday 28 February 2022.

During the consultation period, from 1 December 2021 to 16 January 2022, 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 could trade.

During the hearing, Councillors noted that they wanted a consistent approach across the district.

Many of those who did not support the policy expressed concern for the wellbeing of business owners and workers, and said they wanted to make sure they could be with their families and rest.

However, those in support of the proposal said business had to close during recent Covid-19 lockdowns and felt that shops should be able to open, if they wished, to help recoup losses due to the impacts of Covid-19.

Many of those who supported the policy expressed opinion that only a minority of the population is religious and that business owners should be able to trade if they want to.

Councillors acknowledged that wellbeing was extremely important but noted that businesses did not have to open, and employees had the right to refuse to work on Easter Sunday. They also noted that many businesses are finding it challenging because of lockdowns and they did not want to restrict another day of trading for business that are already “doing it tough”.

Taking all this into consideration, the motion was passed on an 8-5 vote.