Advice

COVID-19

As of 6am Sunday 28 February, Auckland will move to Alert Level 3 and the rest of New Zealand will move to Alert Level 2. The measures will remain in place for the next seven days. Here you can find the COVID-19 retail rules and guidelines.

Here’s what you need to know for COVID-19


The information on this webpage reflects the best information we have, and we will keep this page updated. (Last update 27 February 2021, 9.45pm).

LEVEL 3
Auckland region*
(from 6am, Sunday 28 February)
LEVEL 2
Rest of New Zealand
(from 6am, Sunday 28 February)
Who can open?
Supermarkets, dairies, greengrocers, butchers, petrol stations and pharmacies can remain open and allow customers into their stores, under strict public health guidelines (see below).
 
Other retailers cannot open to the public, however they can operate in a safe way (for example selling online for contactless click and collect, or for contactless delivery.
Retailers who can operate safely under strict public health guidelines can open to the public (see below).

Hospitality business, including cafés, may only open to the public if groups are seated, separated, and use a single server if possible. Table service is also required, including for payment.

Businesses that requires close personal contact (e.g. beauty services and hairdressers), must have a robust contract tracing system, maintain good hygiene practices and minimise contact to the extent possible. We recommend the use of masks in these businesses.
Can employees come to work?
Workers must work from home if they can.
 
If workers cannot work from home business operations must be undertaken safely following public health guidelines.
Workers can continue to go into workplaces.
 
Workplaces must operate safely under public health guideline.
Contact tracing
All businesses MUST display an official QR code poster wherever people enter your premises to support contact tracing with the NZ COVID Tracer app. Create your poster here.All businesses MUST display an official QR code poster wherever people enter your premises to support contact tracing with the NZ COVID Tracer app. Create your poster here.
 
Retail stores should have an alternative paper-based tracing system in place for those who don’t have the Contact Tracer App.
Keep contact tracing records of anyone who will have close interactions for example workers or contractors.

Hospitality businesses for dine-in customers, restaurants, cafes and bars must keep records of all customers and workers to enable contact tracing.
Social distancing
Two metres outside the home.Two metres between customers, and one metre between staff members. We suggest a maximum of one person per four square metres in store.

Limit the number of people in your premises so distancing can be maintained.
Face Masks
It is highly recommended that you wear a mask if you are out and about.
 
You may want to provide personal protective equipment such as gloves and masks for employees.
You should wear face coverings in situations where physical distancing is not possible, like on public transport or in shops.
Social groups and public venues
No more than 10 people in any social group or gathering.
 
All public venues are closed.
No more than 100 people at public venues, gatherings, or events.
 
Ensure records are kept for contact tracing purposes.
Public health requirements
All workplaces must implement and maintain good hygiene practices including:
– frequent handwashing,
– use of hand sanitiser,
– regular cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces,
– record who is working together and limit interaction between different groups of workers,
– keep records to allow contact tracing, where required,
– recommend that face masks to be worn if social distancing is not possible,
– ask everyone, workers, contractors and customers, with cold or flu-like symptoms to stay away from your premises.

*The Auckland region is everything in the Auckland Council boundary – from Wellsford in the north to Pukekohe in the south.

If you need advice, please get in touch with our Advice Service on 0800 472 472 (1800 128 086 from Australia). Or you can email us on [email protected].

Find the latest Government information about COVID-19 here.


Frequently asked questions

Yes, some support is available. See the details here.

If your employee is required to have a COVID-19 test, they may need one or two days off. So, for this short period, you can apply for the Short-term Absence Payment, to cover their wages. When you apply for this, you can’t deduct sick leave from your employee. Also, you cannot use this payment to pay employees sick leave.

To find out more on the Government financial support, Short-term Absence Payment.

You can certainly recommend to your employees that they get a COVID-19 vaccination. But our advice is that you cannot make it a mandatory requirement. All in all, the guidance points to the fact that employers cannot force employees to get vaccinated. So, it could go against the employees’ rights, under the Bill of Rights Act. 

However, Employment NZ has indicated that once the vaccine is available in New Zealand, they’ll release more specific guidance, and specific work sectors. Therefore, we would advise that you wait until this happens, before making any changes to your recruitment processes and employment terms. 

Some jobs don’t require the worker to isolate, even though they are currently exposed to higher risk of infecting COVID-19. These workers may live with family, who are then also exposed to higher risk. If you have an employee who is in a similar situation, then you should be considering your Health & Safety practices. Basically, you should be making sure you’re taking all steps to keep your employees safe. 

If your employee is identified as having close contact to a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19, then they are required to self-isolate. They also need to self-isolate when they have been advised by a health professional to do so, while they await test results.

However, if a close contact is identified, but they are showing no symptoms, then their household members do not need to self isolate. 

Some options to consider:

  • Whether an employee can work from home, if they’re in an increased exposed position.
  • Ensure basic hygiene practices are still being followed within the workplace, such as hand washing etc. 
  • Maintain contact tracing within the workplace.
  • Ensure employees are staying home, when they are unwell.

You can require employees to sign in/use the contact tracer app in your workplace, and you can require that the app be downloaded on any company phones.  

But you cannot force your employees to use the contact tracing app to track all their movements outside the workplace. You can however, ask employees to do this where possible, to ensure you are doing all you can to protect the health and safety of all employees. 

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 includes following all public health guidelines.

You can see the latest guidance from Worksafe here, on meeting the Health and Safety requirements for Level 2 and 3.

Most businesses will have developed a COVID-19 Safety Plan, from when we moved out of lockdown in May. Although this is not mandatory, it is a good idea to have another look at this document, and update it if required. For this purpose, you can download a plan template here.

A staff member might not want to come into work because of Coronavirus. In this situation, you can have a discussion with them around the current situation. Firstly, let them know what you are doing to protect your staff. Secondly, advise them of the current Ministry of Health recommendations. Thirdly, communicate whether you require them to work. As a result, you may be able to reach an agreement. If you need help, get in touch with our Advice Service on 0800 472 472 or email [email protected].

So, if your employee is accessing COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme, then you are not required to use their leave entitlements to top up their income. However, if they would like to use any form of paid leave, you are able to offer this or negotiate with your employee.

Example: Your employee earns $1,000 a week before tax, and they have to self-isolate. From the Government’s leave payments, they are entitled to $585 a week. Subsequently, they ask you to use annual leave they have accrued to make up the other $415, in order to receive an income consistent to what they would receive if they were working their normal hours.

If you need to cut hours or reduce staff numbers, then it’s critical that you’re following a proper process and staying on the right side of the law. You can get in touch with our Advice Service on 0800 472 472 or email [email protected].

Westpac’s Chief Economist is releasing weekly commentary briefings each Friday – take a look.

We are also keeping track of how retail businesses are faring, in our regular Retail Radar reports.

The Commerce Commission has released some guidance for businesses which have had to cancel services and events.

Of course, Worksafe has approved guidance, on operating through COVID-19 Alert Levels 3 and 2. You can click here for Retail Operating Protocol, and also you can read Supply Chain Guidelines here.

You can find these on the Ministry of Health website.

Without a doubt, Retail NZ thinks the priority during the COVID-19 pandemic is to keep everyone safe and well. With this in mind, we are lobbying Government, asking them to allow businesses to open, as long as they can do so safely. After all, it’s safe to fly on aeroplanes at Level 3, as long as passengers are wearing masks. So logically, it should be safe to go to a store, when maintaining social distancing and hygiene. Of course, stores should also have the right to close. Also, through 2020, we were lobbying Government on business support issues, including the Wage Subsidy and rent relief.



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