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Four-day week: NZ mulls dramatic coronavirus remedy

Jacinda Ardern has suggested a four day week in a Facebook live. Images: Getty, Jacinda Ardern

The Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, has told employers to consider moving to four-day work weeks to help support employees' wellbeing and domestic tourism. 

New Zealand, which has been held up as a coronavirus success story due to its relatively low rate of infections and deaths, is now beginning the slow process of reopening. 

And as Australia’s close neighbour begins to do so, its leader is considering new ways to improve the future of the country. 

As New Zealand’s borders remain closed, promoting domestic tourism is critical for its economy. 

Speaking in a Facebook Live video, Ardern said an increased number of public holidays could also be a means of encouraging people to get out and spend money. 

“I hear lots of people suggesting we should have a four-day work week. Ultimately that really sits between employers and employees. But as I’ve said, there’s just so much we’ve learnt about Covid and that flexibility of people working from home, the productivity that can be driven out of that,” 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.”

She said that many Kiwis would travel more if they had more workplace flexibility. 

Ardern was speaking following a visit to Rotorua, where she spoke about ways to boost tourism. 

She said 60 per cent of New Zealand’s tourism industry is supported by domestic travel, but Kiwis spend around NZ$9 billion (AU$8.4 billion) on international travel. 

“The question to me is, how do we make sure that they go out and have that experience and that when they visit somewhere [and] don’t just stay with family and friends but they get out and about?” 

Trans-Tasman bubble 

Ardern also said it would “be great” to see the trans-Tasman bubble come to life to get Australian visitors over to New Zealand. 

She said that the key is getting all the required border security work done in both Australia and New Zealand to facilitate safe travel.

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