Workplace operations at COVID-19 alert levels

Guidance about workplace activities at different alert levels. 

Auckland is at Alert Level 3 and the rest of New Zealand is at Alert Level 2. Restrictions are in place for businesses to keep workers and customers safe from COVID-19.

Auckland is at Alert Level 3 and the rest of New Zealand is at Alert Level 2. Restrictions are in place for businesses to keep workers and customers safe from COVID-19.

All businesses can operate, provided they can meet the rules and operate safely, just as they would normally meet their duties under the Health and Safety at Work Act. Government agencies won’t make these decisions for businesses.

More information on the rules are below.

Auckland businesses — rules for operating under Alert Level 3

All businesses can operate provided they manage and mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission, as part of meeting health and safety obligations. 

  • Social distancing must be maintained. If your business requires close physical contact between staff and/or with customers it can’t operate.
  • Your staff should work from home if they can.
  • Everyone can travel for work within their region, if they cannot work from home. You should only travel if it is necessary. Permitted workers, such as couriers, truck drivers, can travel outside of their regions, where it is necessary to do so.
  • Facial coverings are encouraged for all New Zealanders, but workplaces may require workers, contractors or customers to wear face coverings as part of meeting their health and safety obligations.

For your staff

  • Keep contact tracing records of anyone who comes onto your premises, for example workers and contractors.
  • While at work, staff must remain a minimum of 1 metre apart at all times where practical.
  • You must manage and mitigate the health risks of staff interaction, including through increased hygiene measures, hand washing, regularly cleaning surfaces, and appropriate PPE use. This is especially important where staff must work closer than 1 metre.
  • Workers must stay home if they are sick.
  • Different advice applies to essential healthcare workers, border agencies, courts and tribunal staff, first responders and corrections staff. COVID-19: Advice for health professionals (external link) — Ministry of Health

For your customers

  • Only supermarkets, dairies, petrol stations, pharmacies or permitted health services, or licensing trusts may allow customers onto their premises.
  • For all other businesses customers must not enter your premises. Interactions must be contactless, including for payment, pick-up or delivery.
  • Cash should only be accepted where the customer has no alternative, and the business has measures in place to ensure the cash is handled safely. The Reserve Bank of New Zealand has more guidance about handling cash at Frequently asked questions about cash (external link) .
Under Alert Level 2 and Alert Level 3 there is no distinction between essential and non-essential businesses. All businesses can operate, provided they can meet the rules to operate safely.

Under Alert Level 2 and Alert Level 3 there is no distinction between essential and non-essential businesses. All businesses can operate, provided they can meet the rules to operate safely.

For the rest of New Zealand — rules for operating under Alert Level 2

Businesses can open to the public if they are following public health guidance, which include physical distancing and record keeping.

Do everything you can to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission at work — we all have a part to play in keeping each other safe. 

  • Ask everyone, workers, contractors and customers, with cold or flu-like symptoms to stay away from your premises.
  • Wash your hands. Wash your hands. Wash your hands.
  • Travel between regions is allowed, provided you do not enter into a region that is at Alert Level 3. 

For your staff

  • Keep contact tracing records of anyone who comes onto your premises, for example workers and contractors.
  • While at work, staff must remain a minimum of 1 metre apart at all times where practical.
  • You must manage and mitigate the health risks of staff interaction, including through increased hygiene measures, hand washing, regularly cleaning surfaces, and appropriate PPE use. This is especially important where staff must work closer than 1 metre.
  • Workers must stay home if they are sick.
  • Different advice applies to essential healthcare workers, border agencies, courts and tribunal staff, first responders and corrections staff. COVID-19: Advice for health professionals (external link)  – Ministry of Health.

For your customers

General retail businesses should manage customer entry and exit to achieve 2 metre physical distancing.

Businesses that require close physical contact can operate but will need to operate differently to reduce the risk of transmission. This includes keeping contract tracing records, increased hygiene measures, hand washing, surface cleaning, and wearing appropriate PPE.

WorkSafe has more sector-specific guidance. 

COVID-19 (external link)  — WorkSafe

New Zealand remains at Alert Levels 2 and 3

New Zealand remains at Alert Levels 2 and 3

From 11:59am on Wednesday 19 August all businesses must display a NZ COVID Tracer QR code for their business. It must be in either a prominent place or near main entrances.

Create your official NZ COVID Tracer Poster (external link) — covid19.govt.nz

Contact tracing

Workplace premises only accessed by staff

For example: construction, forestry, manufacturing, research institutions or film studios.

In all cases, the applicable rules for operating under their alert level must be followed.

Visit the MPI site for information specific to primary industries.

Information about COVID-19 and the primary sector (external link)  — MPI

Alert Level 2Alert Level 3
Building and construction work can be done. Building and construction work can be done. For information specific to the building and construction sector visit Building Performance.

COVID-19: Building and construction sector guidance (external link) — Building Performance
Call centres can run from premises. Call centres can run from premises for workers who cannot work from home.
A financial advice firm can open its office. A financial advice firm can open its office for workers who cannot work from home. The firm cannot take in-person appointments with clients.
Food and beverage production and processing firms and their premises can operate. Food and beverage production and processing firms can operate for staff who cannot work from home.
A magazine publisher can open its office. A magazine publisher can open its office for staff who cannot work from home. Production, contactless delivery and retail distribution of magazines can also take place.
A manufacturing plant can operate. A manufacturing plant can operate for staff who cannot work from home and export goods (all freight can be distributed at Alert Level 3). Tradespeople are allowed on premises, as long as there is the ability to contact trace.
Work can be done on film and TV sets. Work can be done on film and TV sets, but the full range of screen production work may not be possible due to limitations (e.g. preventing close personal contact between actors and hair and make-up artists).
Forestry (including wood processing) work can happen. Forestry (including harvest and wood processing) work can happen.
All parts of the wool value chain can operate. All parts of the wool value chain can operate.
Flower growing and distribution can be done. Flower growing and distribution can be done.
Science and research institutions can operate. Science and research institutions can operate from premises for workers who cannot work from home.

Workplace premises accessed by the public or customers

For example: retail, hospitality, hairdressers, entertainment venues and gyms.

In all cases, the applicable rules for operating under their alert level must be followed.

Alert Level 2Alert Level 3
Supermarkets can open. Supermarkets can open.
Pharmacies can open. Pharmacies can open.
Dairies can open. Dairies can open. Prepared food and drink can be bought and sold, but cannot be consumed by customers onsite. In the case of smaller stores this will likely mean limiting access to one customer at time.
Farmers’ markets can open. Farmers’ markets cannot open.
Petrol stations can open. Petrol stations can open. Prepared food and drink can be bought and sold, but cannot be consumed by customers onsite.
Banks can open and allow customers onto their premises. Some banks may be open with social distancing and contactless interactions.
Green grocers, bakeries, butcheries can open as per the rules for retail stores. Green grocers, bakeries, butcheries can sell all of their goods to any customers via contact-less delivery or pick-up.
Hardware and DIY stores can open. Hardware and DIY stores can operate and sell all of their goods to any customers via contactless delivery or pick-up. Tradespeople will be able to safely pick up supplies.
Agricultural supply stores and pet stores can open. Agricultural supply stores and pet stores can offer contactless delivery or drive-through.
Lawn maintenance such as golf courses and stadia can operate.  Lawn maintenance such as golf courses and stadia can operate as long as customers are not allowed on premise.
Animal and pet care services, such as dog walking and pet grooming, can operate. Businesses offering animal and pet care services can operate, but cannot have (human) customers on business premises. Contactless delivery or pick-up (between humans) must be used.
Clothing stores can open. Clothing stores can operate through contactless delivery or pick-up. They cannot have physical storefronts open to the public.
Bars, cafes and restaurants can open, subject to physical distancing and conditions on gatherings (eg seated patrons only, no more than 100 people) being met. Premises that serve alcohol with an on-licence must offer table service only. Bars, cafes and restaurants can offer contactless delivery or collection of food and non-alcoholic drinks. They can also operate drive-throughs. They cannot have physical storefronts open to the public, and customers cannot dine on-site.
Nightclubs are unlikely to be able to operate in line with conditions on gatherings. Nightclubs cannot open.
Entertainment and tourist facilities (such as cinema, theatres, art galleries, mini golf, arcades, bungee jumping, or bowling alleys) can open, with measures to keep people safe (eg physical distancing and contact tracing registers). Entertainment and tourist facilities cannot open.
Licenced supermarkets can sell alcohol. Other alcohol off-licence holders can also sell alcohol. Sellers must meet all requirements of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act. Licensed supermarkets and Licensing Trust stores in the four Licensing Trust areas with a monopoly can sell alcohol. Open liquor store premises must operate with a one-in-one-out rule.

Off-licence holders whose license enables them to sell and deliver alcohol remotely can do so through contactless delivery and pick-up. All requirements of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act, licence conditions/restrictions and requirements for remote sales apply. Limits on quantity of spirits to be sold are recommended.
Mechanics can operate.  Mechanics can operate provided they do not have customers on premise.
General retail stores can operate and allow customers onto their premises.  General retail stores can operate. However, they can’t allow customers onto their premises. Customer interactions should be contactless, including for ordering, payment and delivery.  
Shopping centres/malls can open. Shopping centres/malls can only open to allow access to essential services like supermarkets and pharmacies.

Other stores can operate provided that they deliver goods or offer contactless pick-up.

They cannot have physical storefronts open to the public.
Hairdressers, barbers, nail salons and non-medical massage services can open. Hairdressers, barbers, nail salons and non-medical massage services cannot open.
Exercise facilities and classes (eg gyms, yoga studios and dance school) can open. Exercise facilities and classes can offer lessons remotely (eg by video), but cannot open their premises.

Workers going to customers or a third party premises

For example: couriers, moving house, open homes, client meetings or home repairs.

In all cases, the applicable public health measures must be followed.

Alert Level 2Alert Level 3
A real estate firm can open its office.

Open homes can take place in person, subject to conditions on contact tracing and physical distancing.

Property management functions may be carried out in person.
A real estate firm can open its office for staff who cannot work from home. The firm cannot take in-person appointments with clients.

Open homes cannot take place in person, but they can happen remotely. One-on-one viewings and pre-settlement inspections may be possible. More guidance is available from the Real Estate Authority (external link)  and the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (external link) .
Couriers and parcel services can operate. Deliveries should be contactless. Couriers and parcel services can operate. Deliveries should be contactless.
Removal/moving companies can operate. Removal/moving companies can operate.
Plumbers, electricians and tradespeople can work on customers’ property (eg in homes). Plumbers, electricians and tradespeople can work on customers’ property (eg in homes). Tradespeople need to ensure the relevant public health measures are met (including contact tracing and PPE, such as masks).
Client-facing workers (such as sales and business development people) can meet with clients in person. Client-facing workers (such as sales and business development people) must meet with clients remotely unless it is an essential service.
Home cleaners can work. Home cleaners cannot work in clients’ homes.
Door-to-door sales should only operate if they are able to meet contact tracing requirements for businesses. Door-to-door sales are not allowed.

Workplaces with no premises

For example outdoor tours or driver instruction.

In all cases, the applicable rules for operating under their alert level must be followed.

Alert Level 2Alert Level 3
Outdoor adventure activities (eg guided walks, kayaking tours, quad bike adventures or scenic flights or boat trips) can operate. Outdoor adventure activities (eg guided walks, kayaking tours, quad bike adventures or scenic flights or boat trips) should not operate.
Driver instruction and licencing can happen. Driver instruction and licencing cannot happen, other than aspects of applications that may be done remotely.
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