Covid-19 FAQs

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Frequently asked questions

Under the Health & Safety Work Act 2015 you are required to provide your employees, contractors and customers with the highest level of protection from workplace health and safety risks, so far as reasonably practicable. This would include identifying risks related to the Coronavirus and taking steps to prevent these as much as reasonably practicable.

  • If you are a non-essential service, your business must be closed for at least the next four weeks from 25 March 2020.
  • Keep up to date with the Ministry of Health information and recommendations.
  • Educate your employees on the symptoms of Coronavirus and how to reduce the risk of infection.
  • Provide accessible tissues and hand washing facilities.
  • Keep up to date with staff members who are off work sick and encourage staff members that are sick and displaying symptoms similar to Influenza, to stay home and recover.

The Government has announced a COVID-19 leave and self-isolation scheme to support workers financially. The COVID-19 leave payment scheme will provide support for those people unable to work who are in self-isolation, are sick with COVID-19, or caring for others with COVID-19. The payment does not affect any paid leave entitlements that are owed and is available even if an employee is on paid leave for part of the period. You can find out more here.

You have an obligation to protect the health of your employees and prevent illness so it may be reasonable to request the staff member to go home so they can recover and to prevent putting other staff members at risk. If they do not have any available sick leave entitlement you can discuss with them the option of using unpaid or alternative leave options.

If a staff member does not want to come into work because of Coronavirus have a discussion with them around the current Coronavirus situation, what you are doing to protect your staff, the current Ministry of Health recommendations and whether you require them to work.

It might be a good idea to ask customers to shop online if they are feeling unwell, this could be via signage at the front of your store, on social media, your website and customer database.

Make sure your team has hand sanitiser available, as well as soap and frequent opportunities to wash their hands.

Keep your store clean and increase the frequency of cleaning food prep equipment, counters, restrooms and other high touch surfaces throughout the store.

While the nation is actively in Alert Level 4, travel will be limited to the movement of freight and essential workers. Travel restrictions will be put into place between the regions. However, if you have staff who are considering travelling - refer them to Safetravel.

A World Health Organisation spokesperson has suggested that using contactless payments can help stop the spread of COVID-19. Westpac NZ is supporting small businesses by waiving contactless debit fees for eligible existing customers for six months. Retail NZ members can reach out directly to their Westpac Relationship Manager.

Westpac are offering a relief package and maybe able to help, any concerned Retail NZ Members should contact their Relationship Manager in the first instance or click here to learn more or contact your bank. You can also read more about the Government's business support package and how it can assist with cashflow.

Westpac's Chief Economist is releasing weekly commentary briefings each Friday - take a look.

If you handle food and beverages, it is important to know that it is unlikely for the virus to be transmitted through food and strict hygienic practices when handling food will limit the risk of any foodborne illness. Ministry for Primary Industries is monitoring the situation and has provided some useful updates for food handlers.

On March 17, the Government announced $12.1 billion support package to assist businesses and Kiwis in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. This business support package includes wage subsidies for all businesses, leave and self-isolation support for employees who are sick or have to take care of sick family members. Additional tax measures have also been taken to help business cashflow and encourage business investment. This support package is only available for 12 weeks. We've highlighted the detail that will be relevant to your business.

If you need to cut hours or reduce staff numbers, it's critical that you're following a proper process and staying on the right side of the law. Read our tips.

Every business should have a continuity plan in place to get through a major disruption.

Westpac have created a checklist, designed to help you understand how your transactional banking could be impacted and ways to mitigate those risks - helping you and your team get back to business as quickly as possible.

Keep up to date with advice and guidance on COVID-19 on our website.

If you need advice on managing the outbreak in your business, get in touch with our Advice Service on 0800 472 472 (1800 128 086 from Australia) or email us on

Find the latest information and recommendation on the Coronavirus here.

Updated on 24th March 2020.