Guidelines for businesses and services

Public health guidelines for businesses and services and links to useful information and resources.

Last updated: 21 September 2020

Auckland is at Alert Level 2. The rest of New Zealand is at Alert Level 1.

Find out more on the Unite Against COVID-19 website.

Visit Business.govt.nz for information on workplace operations at COVID-19 alert levels.

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Alert Level 1

At Alert Level 1, the risk of exposure to COVID-19 and transmission in the New Zealand community is very low. 
Movement around the country, and most other restrictions and legal requirements on businesses, services and individuals have been relaxed.

COVID-19 is still uncontrolled overseas, so we must continue to be vigilant. Businesses and services adopting good public health practices will support our defence against the virus re-emerging.


Public health guidelines 

There are no legal requirements for business and services at Alert Level 1, however businesses are encouraged to adopt the following public health guidelines. 

  1. Advise people with possible COVID-19 symptoms that they should not enter the workplace or other premises.
  2. Enable good health, hygiene and safety practices.
  3. Enable people to keep contact tracing records by displaying a QR code.
  4. Encourage physical distancing where practical.

While the risk of Covid-19 in New Zealand is currently very low, businesses and services that are open at Alert Level 1 need to be alert and respond appropriately if COVID-19 cases emerge while operating. If a COVID-19 case is linked to a business or service, they are expected to fully and rapidly comply with requests for information or actions to assist contact tracing and management (eg, cleaning, temporarily closing or other measures).

Under each of the four public health guidelines are recommended measures that businesses and services can take to enable them to operate safely. 

1.    Advise people with possible COVID-19 symptoms that they should not enter the workplace or other premises

Business and services should make it clear that people who are unwell, and especially those with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 should stay home and not enter the workplace.  A simple way to ensure this could be clear signage to ask people with symptoms consistent of COVID-19 not to enter. Signage should be placed near the entrance to buildings or grounds and direct people to call Healthline (0800 358 5453) or contact their general practice.

Businesses don’t need to conduct temperature checks or arrange or provide tests for workers prior to their return to the workplace. The government provides testing as needed for people with symptoms of COVID-19.

Ask workers to stay home if they are sick. Set up flexible leave arrangements to support workers to stay at home and not feel financially pressured to come to work when unwell. Businesses may be eligible for support through the COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme.

Related information:

2.    Enable good health, hygiene and safety practices

Provide the following public health messages at business and services premises:

  • Stay home if you are unwell and call Healthline (for free) on 0800 358 5453 or your doctor if you think you have symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Everyone, both customer and workers should maintain basic hygiene measures such as frequent hand washing, sneezing or coughing into your elbow and avoiding touching your face. This will not only prevent the risk of spreading COVID-19 but also other viruses such as the common cold or influenza.

Provide the following facilities for staff and workers to stay safe:

  • Provide facilities and resources so that everyone on the premises can regularly wash and dry their hands. Refer to wash your hands correctly below. Supply hand sanitisers where handwashing facilities are not easily available, for example at the entrance to business premises.
  • Ensure frequent cleaning of premises, especially counters and EFTPOS terminals, door handles, and other high-touch surfaces following the guidance below on how to clean surfaces correctly.
  • Where practical avoid sharing tools, EFTPOS machines and personal objects, for example, pens, phones, clipboards or clean with disinfectant, eg, disinfectant wipes after each user.

Related information:

Use of personal protective equipment

General community use of facemasks is not currently required for protection from COVID-19 in New Zealand. If someone chooses to wear a mask, or make their own mask, they need to use it properly. There are risks associated with the incorrect use of face masks. This includes considering how the mask is put on, and taken off, and ensuring that it is disposed of safely.

More information on face masks and hygiene advice.

People who are usually required to wear different types of PPE or uniform in their work environment should refer to their workplace health and safety guidance to ensure they are using the correct PPE to prevent them from standard occupational risks.

More information on how to safely use PPE.

3.    Enable people to keep their own records to support contact tracing if needed, by displaying QR codes

At Alert Level 1, businesses and services will no longer be required to keep records of people who visit their premises. However, we are encouraging all businesses and services to display their unique QR code at the entranceway to their premises to support individuals to keep their own personal record of where they have been. 

  • Contact tracing will continue to be a very important part of the elimination strategy. It is important that if a case is identified, contract tracing can be done quickly and efficiently to prevent further spread of COVID-19. 
  • At Alert Level 1, everyone will ideally still keep their own record of where they have been, when they were there and who they met. The Ministry of Health has created a tracing app — NZ COVID Tracer. This app works by scanning a QR code on a poster at participating businesses. The app then keeps track of which QR codes someone has scanned so that they can easily keep a record of where they have been.
  • To enable people to easily keep their own records, businesses are encouraged to display a unique QR code at the entranceway to their premises.

Related information:

4.    Encourage physical distancing where practical 

There are no physical distancing requirements at Alert Level 1, but the more space there is between people, the harder it is for the COVID-19 virus, and other viruses (e.g. the common cold or influenza) to spread. 

If it is practical for your business to continue to adopt different ways of working to support physical distancing it will help to minimise unnecessary close contact. This could include re-configuring the workplace, spacing entry into the workplace, considering split shifts, staggered meal breaks and flexible working arrangements where practicable and after a discussion with workers. 


Related websites

These websites also have useful information for businesses and services:

  • Business.govt.nz — comprehensive information for businesses.
  • WorkSafe — general and sector specific guidance eg, at all alert levels, businesses are required to complete a COVID-19 Work Safe Plan which has had workers’ input and is shared with workers).
  • Employment New Zealand — information for employees, employers and businesses on good faith employment law obligations which must be followed in reaching agreement over any proposed approaches to changing workplace arrangements.
  • Ministry of Education — information for schools, early learning centres and tertiary education facilities.
  • Ministry for Transport — travel-related information at Alert Level 1.

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