Advertisers advice

Alert Level 2: what changes for NZ businesses?

Here’s what Alert Level 2 means for Kiwi businesses.

As regions shift between alert levels, it’s important to know what that means for your business. Here’s a guide for operating under alert level 2:

Can I open?

Most businesses and public entities are allowed to open at Alert level 2. Crucially, this includes allowing both staff and customers onto your premises. However, there are important rules you’ll need to adhere to.

At all alert levels, businesses must comply with all public health guidance. This includes:

  • Not having sick people turning up to work.
  • Regularly disinfecting surfaces
  • Meeting physical distancing requirements.
  • Promoting good hand hygiene through frequent washing and sanitising.

There's sector specific advice on what your business must do to open safely below.

Can I have my staff in the office?

While you can have staff onsite, the Government still encourages businesses to implement alternative ways of working. Depending on your operation, this could mean:

  • Physical distancing.
  • Shift-working.
  • Staggering meal breaks.

Remote working is also still encouraged where possible to limit the number of people coming into contact with each other, and using services like public transport.

How should I implement social distancing in my business?

Physical distancing applies to both customers and staff. The ideal distance is two metres, and this must always be practiced between strangers. However, the Government has said it can live with less if necessary for people who know each other – this includes colleagues.

While indoor gatherings are permitted at Level 2 this is limited to 100 people in both indoors and outdoors environments. Physical distancing and contract tracing must also be possible to allow this to take place.

Other measures businesses can take to protect staff working on-site at Alert Level 2 include using personal protective equipment (PPE) like gloves and masks, or screens like those we’ve become used to seeing in pharmacies and supermarkets.

Many businesses that closed at Levels 3 and 4 will be able to open at Level 2, subject to meeting certain rules.

I have employees who are deemed to be at high risk from Covid-19, can they return to work?

The Government advice for older Kiwis, or those with pre-existing medical conditions that make them more at risk from Covid-19, is that they should stay home where possible. However, these individuals can choose to come into work.

Are work-related travel and in-person client meetings permitted?

The guidance on travel, for both recreation and business, is that you can travel for work anywhere within New Zealand, but you should limit this to when it’s strictly necessary, and do so safely.

You’re also allowed to meet clients in-person on business premises at Alert Level 2. However, physical distancing needs to be observed.

Door-to-door sales can take place at Alert Level 2, as long as contact tracing is possible.

Does Alert Level 2 impact hiring?

Businesses have been able to hire new staff at all alert levels, but the big change with Alert Level 2 is that you’re able to interview candidates in person.

Sector specific advice

The industries most impacted by the easing of restrictions under Level 2 will be:

1. Hospitality

Hospo businesses will need to be able to apply the three 'S's:

  • All customers must be seated – you can only welcome patrons onto your premises if you can provide them with a seat.
  • All bubbles must be separated – seats need to be separated to meet physical distancing rules.
  • All customers must have a single server – this is to reduce the numbers of people coming into contact with each other. Customers also need to be served at tables, and not go up to bars or counters.

You also have obligations regarding what takes place outside your hospitality venue in terms of customer contact. If you’re seeing queues outside your doors, you need to ensure customers are appropriately separated.

You don’t need to insist on contactless card payments at Alert Level 2.

2. Retail

Shopfronts are allowed customers onto premises at Alert Level 2. Again, this is dependent on ensuring physical distancing, avoiding mass gatherings involving more than 100 people, and being able to contact trace.

Larger retailers and malls will need to follow similar processes to those that supermarkets have been implemented during Alert Levels 3 and 4. For example, limiting the number of people inside the premises at one time.

3. Tourism and entertainment

Many tourist operations are permitted to open at Alert Level 2. The same goes for entertainment facilities such as cinemas, theatres, art galleries and museums.

However, this is only true if your operation can ensure physical distancing and contact tracing obligations are met.

4. Real estate

At Alert Level 2, interactions that are standard stages of a house sale (for example, inspections and open homes) are permitted, as long as you follow the conditions of this alert level. If you’re holding an open home, for example, you’ll need to ensure physical distancing and contact tracing are achievable.

5. Beauty parlours and exercise facilities

Operations like hairdressers, nail salons, barbers and non-medical massage services are able to open at Alert Level 2, However, because of the necessary close contact involved in these operations, staff have to wear PPE.

Gyms will also be able to have patrons back on site, but there will be changes to how they operate. For example, you might need to remove some workout stations to allow for more space between users, as well as use floor markings showing where customers can work out.