Protecting yourself and others from COVID-19

There are simple ways to protect yourself and others, and prevent future spread of COVID-19.

Last updated: 21 July 2021

The information on this page applies to everyone, including vulnerable people and those at higher risk of getting COVID-19. See also the advice on the Unite Against COVID-19 website

On this page:


Get vaccinated as soon as you can

The COVID-19 vaccine is free, voluntary and available to everyone in New Zealand aged 16 and over.

When you can get a vaccine depends on your age and situation, such as if you have an underlying health condition.

You can use the Unite against COVID-19 tool to find out what group you're probably in and when you can get a vaccine.

Read more about COVID-19 vaccinations.


Stay home if you’re sick

Play it safe. Stay home if you’re feeling unwell. Don’t go to work and keep unwell children home from school or early childhood education. 

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, call Healthline on 0800 358 5453 24 hours a day for advice. Someone will talk with you about your symptoms and arrange for you to be assessed.

Healthline or your general practice team will tell you what you need to do if you need to be tested.

See information about the common COVID-19 symptoms and who to contact to talk about whether you need a test.


Use basic hygiene

Basic hygiene measures include: good hand hygiene, cough and sneeze etiquette, avoid touching your face, and clean surfaces.

  • Wash your hands with soap and water often (for at least 20 seconds) and dry thoroughly. Use an alcohol-based sanitiser and rub hands together if soap and water is unavailable.
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or cover your mouth and nose with tissues. Put them in a bin immediately.
  • Avoid touching your face, including your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean. Surfaces may have infectious droplets.
  • Clean surfaces regularly. This includes items frequently touch like door handles and phones.

Wear a face covering

Wearing a mask or face covering can reduce the risk of people who have COVID-19 spreading the virus to others.

A mask or face covering can help stop infectious droplets spreading when a person speaks, laughs, coughs or sneezes.

At Alert Level 1 you are legally required to wear a face mask or covering on all public transport and flights throughout New Zealand.

Read more about the use of masks and face coverings in the community for COVID-19 and also advice on the Unite Against COVID-19 website.


Use the NZ Tracer App

If cases of COVID-19 are confirmed, we need to stop the spread. Keeping a record of your movements will help the Ministry of Health to do contact tracing quickly and efficiently. 

It is recommended you keep a record of where you have been, when you were there and who you were with.

The NZ COVID Tracer is a Ministry of Health app that supports fast and efficient contact tracing by creating a digital diary of the places you visit.

To record your movements, scan the QR codes wherever you go and turn on Bluetooth tracing in the app. 

You can also keep track of your movements in a number of others ways including: keeping a list in a safe place, keeping a diary, noting in your phone calendar, using another app to record your movements, or taking time-stamped photos of where you have been.


Physical distancing

The virus that causes COVID-19 is mostly spread in particles that escape from an infected person’s mouth or nose when they breathe, speak, cough, sneeze or sing.

The risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 increases the closer you are to a person and the longer you are close to that person.

The risk is highest in crowded and poorly ventilated indoor spaces, and is lower outside, where there are fewer people, and when you are further away from others. 

To avoid infection, follow physical social distancing guidelines – by keeping your distance when outside your home: of at least:

  • 2 metres in public and retail stores, like supermarkets
  • 1 metre in controlled environments, like workplaces and schools.

Keep rooms well ventilated (eg, by opening windows and doors) or ensuring that ventilation systems are working and well maintained. 

Follow limits on bubble size at the different Alert Levels.

Read more in About COVID-19 – symptoms and spread.


What to do at each Alert Level

Information on what public health actions to follow at each Alert Level.
  1 2 3 4
Unite Against COVID-19 Guidance on Alert Levels

Alert Level 1

Alert level 2

Alert Level 3

Alert Level 4

If you are sick 
stay home and call Healthline (0800 358 5453) to discuss testing
Yes

Yes

There may be some situations where you need to self-isolate or go into a quarantine facility

Yes Yes
Good hygiene – hand washing, cough etiquette, and clean highly touched surfaces Yes Yes Yes Yes
Wear a mask or face covering*
(unless an exemption applies)
Yes on public transport, on flights and by taxi and ride-share drivers (passengers are strongly encouraged to)

Yes on public transport, on flights and by taxi and ride-share drivers (passengers are strongly encouraged to)

Recommended when you cannot maintain physical distance from people you do not know

Yes on public transport, on flights and by taxi and ride-share drivers (passengers are strongly encouraged to) 

Strongly recommended when you’re outside your home and in closed spaces ** where physical distancing is not always possible and contact with other people outside your bubble may occur 

Strongly recommended in closed spaces where physical distancing is not always possible and contact with other people outside your bubble may occur 
Use the NZ COVID Tracer app – to keep track of where you’ve been Scan in or record your movements. Turn on Bluetooth tracing in the app. Scan in or record your movements. Turn on Bluetooth tracing in the app. Scan in or record your movements. Turn on Bluetooth tracing in the app. Scan in or record your movements. Turn on Bluetooth tracing in the app.
Physical distancing No Keep your distance when outside your home of at least:
  • 2 metres in public and retail stores, like supermarkets
  • 1 metre in controlled environments, like workplaces and schools
Keep your distance when outside your home of at least:
  • 2 metres in public and retail stores, like supermarkets
  • 1 metre in controlled environments, like workplaces and schools.
In all situations where interacting outside of home and work bubble (for essential workers)
Reduce your bubble size No Limit gatherings to 100 Follow Alert Level 3 directions on bubbles Follow Alert Level 4 directions on bubbles

* For health care setting please refer to Infection Prevent and Control Guidelines Ministry of Health or your workplace lnfection Prevention and Control procedures.

View more information on the COVID-19 Alert system on the United Against COVID-19 website.

Back to top