Chocolate store

Chocolate Shop Latte Hatches | Otago Daily Times News Online

The threat of Omicron infecting staff forced Ocho Chocolate in Dunedin to close its doors to the public.

Company management made the decision earlier this week, initially to close during the week, but yesterday decided to extend it to weekends as well.

The chocolate company organized public tours of its factory and also sold some of its products in its on-site retail store.

The risk of the site becoming a landmark and having to shut down the entire operation was too great, Ocho chief executive Angela Howell said.

“We would be in big trouble because everyone would have to go home so there was no one to make chocolate.”

If the site was just an outlet, it probably wouldn’t have closed, she said.

The company was trying to create a “bubble” in the factory.

Group visits had also ceased and Ocho was meeting with its suppliers virtually.

The purpose of the closure was to protect the company’s eight staff members and to ensure that chocolate could still be sent to retailers in Ocho.

“We try to limit our exposure to Omicron.”

The business could not afford to remain closed for two or three weeks if staff had to self-isolate, Ms Howell said.

Stocks were still quite low after the Christmas rush and the factory was busy trying to replenish them.

“If we could have built that stock now, we would be in a different position, so it’s a combination of factors.”

The business hoped to reopen to the public in about six weeks, but the closure would be reviewed weekly.

“We’ll just have to look forward to welcoming people back then,” Ms Howell said.

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