Advice

COVID-19

Auckland and northern Waikato areas are at Alert Level 3 and the rest of the country is at Alert Level 2.

The information on this webpage reflects the best information we have about COVID-19 rules and guidelines for retail. It will be updated regularly as things change. (Last updated 22 October 2021).

The Government has announced a new COVID Protection Framework response plan to provide a pathway out of lockdown and give vaccinated New Zealanders more freedom. This will provide more ability for retailers to open, but there is no date for it to take effect.


Things you need to know

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LEVEL 3
Auckland and northern Waikato areas*
LEVEL 2
The rest of New Zealand
What shops 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 keep one metre apart, 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.
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.
 
Retail stores are required to have an alternative tracing system in place for those who don’t have the Contact Tracer App. This could be an existing booking system, individual slips and a secure box for storage, an employee record the details.

You must abide by privacy requirements and keep customers details private. A sign in sheet displaying customers details and available for anyone to see does not meet privacy requirements.

Keep contact tracing records of anyone who will have close interactions, for example workers or contractors.

You must ensure that:
1.    Additional copies of a COVID-19 QR code are displayed in multiple places throughout your premises, in addition to one at the main entrance. 
2.    QR code posters must now be kept in a good condition.
3.    You must not alter the QR code and must use the official COVID-19 QR code posters issued by the Ministry of Health.
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 are legally required to have an alternative tracing system in place for those who don’t have the Contact Tracer App. This could be an existing booking system, individual slips and a secure box for storage, an employee record the details.

You must abide by privacy requirements and keep customers details private. A sign in sheet displaying customers details and available for anyone to see does not meet privacy requirements.

Keep contact tracing records of anyone who will have close interactions, for example workers or contractors.

Hospitality businesses – restaurants, cafes, bars and dine-in customers to remain seated, be physically distanced by 1 metre, keep records of all customers and workers to enable contact tracing

You must ensure that:
1.    Additional copies of a COVID-19 QR code are displayed in multiple places throughout your premises, in addition to one at the main entrance. 
2.    QR code posters must now be kept in a good condition.
3.    You must not alter the QR code and must use the official COVID-19 QR code posters issued by the Ministry of Health.
Face Masks
Face masks must be worn by customers and staff in customer-facing roles. This includes customers picking up click and collect goods.In general retail, customer-facing staff and customers are required to wear masks.

In hospitality or personal care services, staff are required to wear masks, but customers are not.
Social distancing
Two metres outside the home.We recommend maintaining a distance of two metres between all people in the workplace.
Can I sell essential goods online?
Any business operating from a Level 3 area can sell any goods online. This includes:
  • click and collect inside a Level 3 area; and
  • contactless delivery nationwide, including into a Level 4 area.
Yes. You can sell all types of product online to any customer, including those in a Level 4 area. If your customer is in Level 4, you must arrange for contactless delivery.
Can I open if I am a greengrocer, butcher, baker, fishmonger or pet supply store?
Greengrocers and butchers can open, but all bakeries can sell online only.You are able to open at Level 2.
How do I keep my people safe in the workplace?
Workers must work from home if they can.
 
Also, if workers cannot work from home, business operations must be undertaken safely, following public health guidelines.
Workers can continue to go into workplaces. Customer-facing workers must wear masks.
 
Workplaces must operate safely under public health guideline.
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
We recommend that you encourage:
  • frequent handwashing;
  • mask use;
  • use of the official QR code for contact-tracing purposes;
  • use of hand sanitiser;
  • regular cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces, including counters, EFTPOS terminals, screens, doors and trolleys.
Additionally, we recommend you ask everyone with cold or flu-like symptoms to stay away from your premises.

*Northern Waikato including Raglan, Te Kauwhata, Huntly, Ngāruawāhia, Hamilton City and some surrounding areas are currently at Alert Level 3. The Waitomo district including Te Kūiti, as well as Waipā and the Ōtorohanga districts moved to Alert Level 3 at 11:59pm on 7 October 2021. See the Alert Level boundary map on the Unite Against COVID-19 website.

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.


Auckland roadmap

Auckland is at Alert Level 3. A 3-step approach to easing restrictions has begun.

Step 1
From 11:59pm, Tuesday 5 October
Step 2
Starting date not yet announced
Step 3
Starting date not yet announced
  • OUTDOOR catch-ups of up to 10 people from two households
  • ECE centres open
  • OUTDOOR recreation allowed
  • Limit of 10 people plus staff for funerals, tangihanga, wedding
  • Retail opens
  • Public facilities like libraries, pools, museums and zoos open
  • OUTDOOR catch-ups increase to 25 people limit
  • Limit of 25 people plus staff for funerals, tangihanga, weddings
  • Hospitality opens
  • Close contact businesses like hairdressers open
  • Indoor and outdoor social gatherings increase to 50 people limit

18 October, pending public health advice the week prior

  • Schools reopen for all students

Frequently asked questions

Our members have been in touch, to get advice on whether they need to pay their employees, while their stores were closed under the Level 3 lockdown.  

We have sought independent legal advice on this, and our advice is that you need to continue to pay your staff. This is unless separate arrangements are specified in their employment agreements.  

However, you can reach an agreement to pay the team a lesser amount after consultation. It is also possible that, with the agreement of both parties, employees can take annual leave or another form of available leave during this period.

Many employees will understand the difficulty of the current situation, and be willing to accept reasonable arrangements. But it’s still important to note, without both consultation and agreement, no change can be made to your staff’s pay.

We are aware that some organisations are suggesting that you do not need to pay your employees if you are unable to trade. Even so, based on the legal advice we have received, we do not believe this is correct. Also, it creates risk – you could have a personal grievance lodged against you.

Government assistance is available to help businesses meet their wage costs. 

Yes, COVID business 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, this does raise practical issues for retail businesses who will need to juggle rosters to accommodate vaccinations.  We note that many vaccination centres are open early morning and after hours. This should mean bookings can be catered around normal retail hours. If you need specific advice from us on employee vaccinations, contact is at [email protected].

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].

If your employee has been directed to isolate by a health professional, and they cannot work from home, you may be able to claim the Leave Support Scheme to pay them over this period.

What if the leave support scheme amount is less then what my employee earns?

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. For this purpose, 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.

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.

The priority during the COVID-19 pandemic is to keep everyone safe and well. With this in mind, we are lobbying Government, in the following areas:

  • Asking Government to allow green grocers, butchers and bakeries to open at Level 4, so long as they can do so safely. This would support wider access to key areas of food supply whilst at higher alert levels;
  • To allow businesses to open at Level 3, so long as they can do so safely. 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;
  • We are also lobbying Government on business support issues, including the Wage Subsidy and rent relief.

Customers and your staff should stay two metres apart. Employees should stay metre apart from each other. For some stores this my mean you need to place limits on the number of customers you can have in-store in order to comply with the distancing requirement. 

As a business you are legally required to have a QR code and alternative method of contact tracing available for customers to use. The responsibility is on your customers to use these methods. We recommend signs that remind customers to use contact tracing methods available. 

The alternative contact tracing method could be an existing booking system, individual slips and a secure box for storage, an employee record the details.

You must abide by privacy requirements and keep customers details private. A sign in sheet displaying customers details and available for anyone to see does not meet privacy requirements.

You can find a range of signage for your business here

Staff are legally required to wear masks in customer-facing roles in retail stores and cafés. Workers non-customer facing roles working in offices and storerooms are not required to wear masks.

Your customers are also legally required to wear masks.  We encourage you to have signs reminding customers that masks are required. If you are in a situation where a customer is refusing to wear a mask while in store you can choose to refuse entry or call the police should the individual be aggressive.

Some people, including those with disabilities, are not required to wear a mask.  If your employee claims to be exempt from the requirement, we recommend that you ask for confirmation of this (e.g. a medical certificate or a Mask Exemption Card).  In this case, we recommend that you consider redeploying the worker to a non-customer facing role, or provide additional PPE, such as a visor.

Some people have a disability or health condition that means they cannot wear a face covering safely. For these people the Disabled Persons Assembly NZ will issue an exemption card. 

This card has been developed by the Ministry of Health specifically for those who cannot wear face coverings safely or comfortably due to a disability or health condition.

We encourage you to accept these cards when they are presented to you. 

You can find the answer to many questions about employee vaccinations here on our dedicated advice page. 

We can also support you through our professional Advice Service, you can contact them on [email protected].

At Level 4, Auckland and Northland businesses can only sell essential goods via contactless delivery. This includes goods being sold to customers in a Level 3/Level 2 area.

At Level 2, the rest of New Zealand can sell all types of product online to any customer, including those in a Level 4 area. If your customers is in Level 4, you must arrange for contactless delivery; but in a Level 3 area, you can also offer contactless click and collect.



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