Guidelines for businesses and services at Alert Level 2

Last updated: 29 May 2020

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New Alert Level 2 guidance

At 11:59am 29 May 2020 changes were made to relax restrictions in Alert Level 2. For details of exactly what has changed see Alert Level 2 changes on the COVID-19 website.

Alert Level 2 has been designed to get as many people as possible back to work and the economy back up and running in the safest way possible.

While the risk of community transmission of COVID-19 in New Zealand is low, the key to a business or service operating at Alert Level 2 is ‘doing it safely’.

What is defined as a business or service at Alert Level 2?

Businesses and services rules apply to the private and public sector, commercial venues and professional sports. These include (but are not limited to) the following business activities:

  • Retail businesses (eg, supermarkets, retail shops, takeaway food outlets)
  • Public and private venues or workplaces (eg, workplaces, museums, pools, galleries, cinemas, stadiums, casinos)
  • Food and consumption businesses (eg, restaurants, cafes, soup kitchens)
  • Service based businesses (eg, hairdressers, beauticians).

Social gatherings are not a business or service. Social gatherings include not-for-profit sporting, recreational, social or cultural activities. Examples are weddings, funerals, tangihanga, religious services, parties, informal get-togethers, unlicensed community clubs or RSAs. However, for any work-related function, the businesses and services rules still apply.

Other services – education and travel

Schools, early learning centres and tertiary education facilities can open at Alert Level 2. Tertiary should continue to deliver distance learning where possible.

Read more on the Ministry of Education website.

  • You can travel at Alert Level 2, but do it in a safe way. Follow public health measures – stay home if you’re unwell, physical distance and use basic hygiene. Follow the self-isolation rules for COVID-19.
  • Public transport is not required to meet gathering limits however some agencies may still have guidance on capacity. Operators should regularly clean high-touch surfaces such as handrails, seat handles, buzzers or buttons, touch screens etc.
  • You should keep a record of where you have been when you travel.

Read more on the Ministry of Transport or Unite Against COVID-19 websites.

Public health guidelines for all businesses and services

Businesses and services wanting to operate safely at Alert Level 2 must adhere to the following public health guidelines.

1.    Advise people with possible COVID-19 symptoms that they should not enter the workplace or other premises.
2.    Maintain physical distancing requirements (based on sector specific guidance).
3.    Enable good health, hygiene and safety practices.
4.    Keep a record for contact tracing purposes of all people that enter a controlled environment.

If you are unable to operate safely in accordance with the public health principles and guidelines provided here, you should not open. If you do not meet the requirements you can be warned or told to stop operating.

Under each of the four public health principles are recommended measures that businesses and services can take to enable them to operate safely. See ‘public health guidelines for all business and services’ for further information.

Businesses and services that are open at Alert Level 2 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 their contact tracing register and any further information or actions to assist contact tracing and management (eg, cleaning, temporarily closing or other measures).

Public health guidelines by business or service type

These guidelines should be read in conjunction with the public health guidelines for businesses and services.

Retail businesses or services

Retail stores are considered ‘uncontrolled’ environments. Examples are supermarkets, retail stores, shopping malls, takeaway-only food outlets. These are places where people have open access to the premises and generally don’t know each other and are unlikely to be in close contact with each other for an extended period of time.

If a food business in a shopping mall wants to operate at Alert Level 2, and it does not provide its own seating, then it can operate like a takeaway-only store and is not subject to requirements for eat-in establishments.

Requirements:

  • Physical distancing of 2-metres for customers (who are not close friends or whānau).
  • Physical distancing of 1-metre for workers (as they are known).
  • There is no limit to the number of people entering a retail business.
  • Keep contact tracing records for workers. It is not required (but still encouraged) for customers. 

Considerations:

  • Use contactless payment systems (online/paywave) to limit physical contact.

Public and private workplaces or venues

Public and private venues or workplaces are considered ‘controlled’ environments. Examples are workplaces, museums, swimming pools, galleries, cinemas, stadiums, conference facilities and casinos.

Requirements:

  • Physical distancing of 1-metre for everyone on the premises (who are not close friends or whānau). This includes workers and customers.
  • There is a limit of 100 people attending an event facility at one time. Event facilities include cinemas, casinos, conference venues, concert venues, and stadiums. Places like libraries, museums, gyms and swimming pools are not event facilities. This limit excludes workers. Multiple groups of 100 are allowed in event facilities provided they are in separate ‘defined spaces’ with no ability to mingle between groups. This may be partitioned indoor space or seated open air space (eg, stadium), so long as there are systems to prevent intermingling in common spaces (eg, entrances, exits and toilet facilities). 
  • Keep contact tracing records for everyone (even if everyone at the event knows each other).

Considerations:

  • Support physical distancing with different ways of working, re-configuring the workplace or spacing entry into the workplace. Consider physical barriers such as screens where 1-metre distance is difficult.
  • Consider split shifts, staggered meal breaks and flexible working arrangements where practicable and after discussion with workers.
  • If an event facility is providing food and drink for consumption at the facility, then the hospitality rules apply, unless the event facility has been hired for a social gathering.
  • If the part of the event facility serving food or drink is clearly separated from the rest of the event facility, then the food and drink provisions only apply to the part of the premises serving food and drink.
  • Social gatherings taking place in hired venues (or anywhere else) comply with social gatherings rules. Business and services events in venues must comply with business and service rules (eg, conferences). 

Food and consumption businesses

Food and consumption businesses are considered ‘controlled’ environments. Examples are restaurants, bars, cafes, soup kitchens.

Requirements

  • Physical distancing of 1-metre between tables and groups of people who do not know each other. 
  • Customers must be seated at a table except when using the toilet, paying, and departing. 
  • Ordering and collecting food and drinks at the counter is allowed for non-licensed premises only, provided that physical distancing is maintained.  
  • Guests must only have 1 server where practical (eg, there can be more than one server if a server finishes their shift or goes on a break).
  • There is a limit of 100 people attending a venue at one time. This limit excludes workers. Multiple groups of 100 are allowed in venue facilities provided they are in separate ‘defined spaces’ and there are systems to prevent intermingling in common spaces (eg, entrances, exits and toilet facilities). 
  • Keep contact tracing records for everyone. 
  • You can’t play pool or a gaming machine in the same area that food and drink is being consumed – though businesses are free to set up pool tables or gaming machines in a clearly separate space to the food and drink area, as long as they can prevent mingling between the two areas. It would not be acceptable for someone to purchase a drink and then move into that area with the drink, for example.

Considerations:

  • Where at all practical, workers should provide services to only 1 gathering (group of 100 max) and should not move between the multiple groups of 100. 
  • Facilities such as toilets can be used by multiple groups of 100, if they are used at different times so multiple groups aren’t using the same facilities at once. We recommend that additional cleaning takes place in between usage by different groups.

Close contact services

Close contact services are considered a ‘controlled’ environment where physical distancing is not possible. Examples include hairdressers and beauticians.

Requirements:

  • Physical distancing of 1-metre when not delivering the service.
  • There is no limit to the total number of people or customers per day.
  • Keep contact tracing records for everyone.

Considerations:

  • Although there is no limit to the number of customers you can have, it is recommended each service is as short as possible, with as few people as possible over the course of the day.
  • As physical distancing is difficult you can consider other safety measures such physical barriers such as a screen or facial shield, re-configuring the workplace, spacing entry into the workplace, supporting different ways of working or see guidance for use of PPE such as face masks. 

Deciding whether to operate

Businesses must self-assess their ability to adhere to the public health principles and to operate safely, just as they would normally to meet their duties under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015. Government agencies will not make these decisions for individual businesses.

In addition to their duties under the Health and Safety at Work Act, businesses and services must also comply with the requirements that underpin the public health principles and guidelines. You can find the Order for Alert Level 2 on the New Zealand Legislation website.

If a business or service is unable to operate safely in accordance with the public health principles and guidelines provided here, it should not open.

If businesses or services do not meet the requirements of Level 2 they can be warned or told to stop operating.

More information

In addition to the public health principles outlined here, the following information is available to support businesses in self-assessing their ability to operate safety:

  • The business.govt.nz website has comprehensive information about what you can and can’t do under Alert Level 2 as a business.
  • WorkSafe has general and sector specific guidance that will help businesses to determine how they can operate safely. 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 website has 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.

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