Commercial & Business, Insights

Initial advice on Level 2

Initial advice on Level 2

What does Alert Level 2 mean for my business?

The government redefined what Alert Level 2 will involve several days ago and has revised that further today. Some of what was announced today and then posted on the government website was contradictory and no doubt those matters will have to be quickly resolved. However, it appears that the following is the case:

  • Retailers, malls, gyms, playgrounds may reopen from Thursday 14 May;
  • Educational facilities will reopen from Monday 18 May; and
  • Bars and pubs may reopen from Thursday 21 May.
  • Parties and other gatherings will be limited to maximum size of 10. Please note that this is a decrease from the advice of a few days ago which specified 100 people.
  • It is presumed that offices will be able to open on 14 May as well but we will confirm this as soon as possible.

While the aim is to open the country up again, there will still be some rules in place to ensure the virus doesn’t come back with a vengeance.

Most businesses can restart

For commercial clients, the most important thing to note is that business can restart for both staff and customers if they can do it safely. This includes restaurants and cafes (subject to some ground rules). Furthermore, domestic travel will resume and public places and schools will reopen.

But there are restrictions

However, Alert Level 2 is not quite business as usual. There are restrictions, such as:

  • Having adequate contact registers in place to record all customers and other visitors who come to your premises (remember that this will still be subject to privacy law requirements for its collection, use, retention and disposal).
  • Ensuring physical distance of at least one metre between customers;
  • Frequent hand washing and surface cleaning;
  • Continuing to “work differently” if that’s practical. This could include remote working and staggering shifts and/or breaks. Changes to terms of employment require consultation and, in some situations, agreement;
  • Ensuring staff who are sick with coronavirus symptoms stay home; and
  • In the case of bars, restaurants and cafes, keeping groups seated, separated, and use a single server per table if possible.

This may mean significant adjustments to day-to-day operations. It is important to work with staff, customers and suppliers to redefine what is ‘normal’.

What happens if a business doesn’t follow the rules

Anyone that is concerned about a breach of COVID-19 restrictions can report it. There are various enforcement options for government agencies under the Health and Safety At Work Act 2015 and the Health Act 1956. To date, there have been no reports on businesses being prosecuted.

We are not out of the woods yet

Alert Level 2 means that “the disease is contained, but the risk of community transmission remains.” Accordingly, it’s in all of our interests to avoid the need to return to Alert Level 3 (or higher). Accordingly, when restarting your business take care to follow public health guidance – especially in relation to physical distancing and contact tracing.
Stand by for further updates!