Vodafone NZ will keep 45 stores open from Monday to provide essential services during the Covid-19 lockdown, but "customer intimacy" is out for the duration of the crisis.
The outlets will be open for three hours daily from Monday, 11am to 2pm, for booked appointments to fulfil pre-specified requests.
Appointments will be spaced out at 30-minute intervals, products and paperwork will be passed through the door with the customer asked to stand three meters away at all times to ensure no contact occurs.
The stores remaining open will be designed to support customers as "Essential Connectivity Hubs" – which includes getting or remaining online via mobile and broadband devices.
Rival mobile network operator 2degrees told Reseller News it would open two Auckland stores under a similar arrangement today to trial demand during the lockdown.
The telco industry received confirmation from government earlier this week that any entity that provides maintenance and repair services for utilities and communications, including their supply chains, was an essential service.
Industry body the Telecommunications Carriers Forum (TCF) said the industry is taking that responsibility seriously, and providers had robust business continuity plans in place to ensure they could continue to keep New Zealand connected.
“Our goal is to maintain strict adherence to the lock-down – no contact between individuals – while ensuring no New Zealander is disconnected," TCF CEO Geoff Thorn said.
Vodafone NZ consumer director Carolyn Luey said Vodafone's hubs, like Spark's announced yesterday, would provide key services including new or replacement SIM cards, mobile phones and home broadband modems.
“We will continue to prioritise the health of our people and customers first and foremost, so we will be implementing a range of precautionary safety measures within these hubs,” Luey said.
The hubs will include no customer interactions and payments will need to be completed by the customer over the phone via credit card before visiting the hub.