Guidelines for businesses and services

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

Last updated: 13 October 2021

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Alert Level guidance

This Alert Level guidance should be read in conjunction with the public health guidelines below.

Alert Level 4

  • Only certain businesses and services can open to the public and have customers on their premises if they can do so safely.
  • They will 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 (for example, cleaning, temporarily closing or other measures).
  • Business continuity planning should be considered in case the business or service needs to close or operate with skeleton staff.
  • Everyone over the age of 12, including all staff and customers are legally required to wear a mask in businesses and services open at Alert Level 4.

Alert Level 2 and 3

  • All businesses and services can operate at Alert Levels 2 and 3 if they can do so safely.
  • Any staff who have contact with customers must wear a face mask at work.
  • Any workers who enter your premises (for example, couriers) will also need to wear a mask on the premises.
  • Auckland businesses (particularly those in construction, hospitality and retail) are encouraged to take part in surveillance testing.

In general, customers should wear face coverings whenever they can but this is not always practical.

Find out more about when you do not need to wear a face covering on the Unite Against COVID-19 website

Alert Level 1

  • All businesses and services can operate at Alert Level 1 if they can do so safely.

Public health guidelines 

Businesses and services are encouraged to adopt the following public health guidelines. 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 staff and workers with possible COVID-19 symptoms not to enter the workplace
  2. Enable good health, hygiene and safety practices
  3. Display official QR codes so people can track their movements with the NZ COVID Tracer app
  4. Encourage physical distancing where practical

Businesses and services that are open at Alert Level 4 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 (for example, 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. 

Advise staff and workers with possible COVID-19 symptoms not to enter the workplace

Business and services should remind staff who are unwell or who have COVID-19 symptoms to stay at home. Encourage your staff check the locations of interest and follow the guidance if they have been at a location of interest during the relevant time.

Clear signage to remind people what they need to do if they are unwell or have symptoms is a simple way to do this. 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 and services don’t need to conduct temperature checks or arrange or provide tests for workers before they return to the workplace. The government provides testing as needed for people with symptoms of COVID-19. Employers should actively encourage and facilitate testing so their workers feel they can and should get a test without impact on their employment or wages.

Set up flexible leave arrangements to support workers to stay at home and not feel financially pressured to come to work when they are unwell or need to have a test and are waiting for results. Businesses and services may be eligible for support through the COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme.

Related information

Enable good health, hygiene and safety practices

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

  • Stay home if you are unwell or have symptoms of COVID-19. Call Healthline on 0800 358 5453 or your doctor.
  • Maintain basic hygiene measures (customers and staff), such as frequent hand washing and mask wearing.
  • Sneeze or cough into your elbow and avoid touching your face. This will prevent the risk of spreading COVID-19, and other viruses such as the common cold or flu.

Employers should do the following to keep their staff and workers safe.

  • Provide facilities and resources so everyone on the premises can regularly wash and dry their hands.
  • Supply hand sanitiser where handwashing facilities are not easily available, for example, at the entrance to business premises and areas where staff are working.
  • Provide masks for all workers and staff to use indoors and where physical distancing from co-workers cannot be maintained.
  • Support staff to get vaccinated or tested by providing flexibility to do this in work time.
  • Ensure regular cleaning of premises, paying special attention to counters and EFTPOS terminals, door handles, and other high-touch surfaces. Follow the guidance below on how to clean surfaces correctly.
  • Avoid sharing tools and personal objects. If this is not possible, sanitise hands before and after use and clean objects between use as often as possible.
  • Provide appropriate ventilation. Open windows are recommended to increase fresh air into work areas. If mechanical ventilation is used, ensure the ventilation system is regularly maintained.

Related information

Use of masks and face coverings

In general, face coverings should be worn whenever you can. The Delta variant is more transmissible by droplets, so face coverings are a way we can protect ourselves and each other.

If you are an employee involving customer contact at a business or service you legally must wear a face covering at Alert levels 2, 3 and 4.

We encourage staff to wear their face covering in staff-only areas to reduce potential transmission between co-workers. Masks can be removed for meal, refreshment, and comfort breaks, however physical distancing should be maintained at these times. Encourage your staff not to speak, shout or sing close to others without a mask. Staggering work breaks, having several break rooms available, and having break rooms outside is highly recommended.

Read more about wearing masks and face coverings at different alert levels on the United Against COVID-19 website.

You can order free printed collateral for your business, including ‘face coverings must be worn here’ and ‘sanitise on your way in’ from the Unite Against COVID-19 website.

Use of personal protective equipment (PPE)

People who are usually required to wear different types of PPE or a uniform in their work environment should refer to their workplace health and safety guidance to:

  • ensure they are using the correct PPE
  • prevent them from standard occupational risks.

More information on how to safely use PPE

Face mask exemptions

We ask businesses to encourage workers and customers who must wear face coverings to do so.

It’s also important to remember that for some people a face covering is unsuitable because of a disability or health condition. 

Some people will have an exemption card with them to show that there is a reason why a face covering is unsuitable for them.

Exemption cards are not mandatory, so some people will not have one with them.

Be kind and respectful of privacy when approaching a customer who isn’t wearing a face covering. While it’s not always obvious why a face covering is unsuitable, it’s inappropriate to enquire about the nature of a person’s disability or condition.

Face coverings are just one of the tools we have for helping to stop the spread of COVID-19. When a face covering is unsuitable for one of your customers, it is always important to enable other good health, hygiene and safety practices at your place of business to help keep your workers and customers safe. This includes displaying the official QR codes for people to scan in and encouraging physical distancing where possible.

Business.govt.nz has advice on how to handle to situations where workers or customers cannot wear a face covering

Display official QR codes so people can track their movements with the NZ COVID Tracer app

Businesses and services are required to display the official NZ COVID Tracer QR codes at all Alert Levels.

  • Contact tracing continues to be a very important part of the elimination strategy. It is important that contract tracing can be done quickly and efficiently if a case is identified, to prevent further spread of COVID-19. 
  • Everyone over the age of 12 is required to keep their own record of where they have been, when they were there and who they met. The fastest and easiest way of doing this is with the NZ COVID Tracer app. App users can keep track of their movements by scanning the QR codes at business locations.
  • Businesses should display their QR codes in a prominent place at or near the main entrance to each of their premises. The top of the poster should be approximately 130 cm from the ground so everyone can scan.
  • At all Alert Levels, businesses and services are required to have other systems and processes in place to enable contact tracing of people who do not use the NZ COVID Tracer app.

Related information

Encourage physical distancing where practical

At all Alert Levels, you should keep a two-metre distance from people at all times where practical. In the work environment a one metre physical distance is allowed but face masks must be used.

Adopting different ways of working to support physical distancing will help to minimise unnecessary close contact, such as:

  • reconfiguring the workplace
  • spacing entry into the workplace
  • forming staff work pods for staff who work the same hours or days
  • considering split shifts
  • staggered rest and meal breaks, and flexible working arrangements (including working from home) where possible and after a discussion with staff. 

Testing in Auckland – Alert Level 3

As part of our targeted approach to COVID-19 testing in Auckland, we encourage businesses (particularly those in construction, hospitality and retail) to take part in surveillance testing of their workers over the next two weeks. Surveillance testing is not a mandatory requirement for businesses.

Why we are asking businesses to surveillance test

As people return to work and start to visit businesses (even in a contactless way) movements and interactions between people will increase. This testing will help to:

  • quickly identify any new chains of transmission
  • provide a level of assurance that there is a low risk of undetected community transmission.

Guidelines for surveillance testing

  • Workers who choose to do a surveillance test do not need to isolate. They can continue working under the usual Alert Level 3 restrictions, as long as they do not have any symptoms.
  • Workers must get two tests – one swab test and a follow up test in the following week (at least five days later) if Auckland is still at Alert Level 3.
  • Surveillance testing is free and can be done at community testing centres. If you are a larger business and have testing onsite, this can then be done at the workplace.
  • It is up to you and your workers to agree arrangements if they choose to participate in this testing.

For a full list of testing centres go to the Healthpoint website

Who does not need to do surveillance testing

Groups who already do surveillance testing, such as permitted workers crossing alert level boundaries or border workers, do not need to undergo this additional testing.

Guidance for businesses or services identified as a location of interest

This document is to support businesses that have been identified as a location of interest following a visit by a confirmed (or probable) COVID-19 case.

There are financial support options available to businesses. This includes people who are self-employed, whose employees are awaiting a COVID-19 test, or people who are asked to self-isolate and are unable to work from home.

Check the Work and Income website for up-to-date information about which options may be available.


Guidance for businesses and organisations that have ‘at risk’ or immune compromised employees

This document is to support businesses that employ workers who may be classified as ‘at risk’ or immune compromised against COVID-19. An ‘at risk’ or immune compromised employee is someone who is at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 and/or is more likely to suffer long term effects from the virus.


Related websites

These websites also have useful information for businesses and services:

  • Unite Against COVID-19 – doing business at each alert level
  • Business.govt.nz – comprehensive information for businesses
  • Business.govt.nz – workplace operations at COVID-19 Alert Levels
  • WorkSafe – general and sector specific guidance, for example, 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
  • Ministry for Primary Industries – safe practice guidelines for food retailers and manufacturers

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