Commercial & Business, Employment & Health and Safety, Insights

Returning to Alert Level 3

All of New Zealand went down to Alert Level 3 yesterday, except for Northland which will go to Level 3 at 11:59pm tomorrow, and Auckland which will stay in Level 4 for at least another two weeks. Consequently, many businesses have been gearing up for opening under Level 3 restrictions. However, while many businesses will be familiar with operating at Level 3 from last year, Delta has meant that Level 3 will be somewhat tougher this time around and there are some new requirements.

There are strict requirements for conducting business at Alert Level 3. Businesses that require close physical contact cannot open, as well as public venues such as cinemas and gyms. For businesses that can open, staff should work from home if they can. All opening businesses must implement health and safety measures as follows:

• Display a QR code and have an alternative contact tracing system for customers and staff;

• Customers cannot go onto the premises except for supermarkets, dairies, butchers, fishmongers, greengrocers, petrol stations, pharmacies or permitted health services;

• Business must legally be contactless including payment, pick-up and delivery;

• Basic hygiene measures must be maintained – physical distancing of two metres for customers and one metre for workers, hand washing and regularly cleaning surfaces;

• Staff that are sick must legally stay home;

• All other health and safety requirements must be followed.

The requirements around face coverings have been increased. In addition to existing requirements for mask wearing e.g. for public transport, at Level 3 masks must also be worn if a delivery driver to a residential address and inside any Level 3 business or service that is open and involves customer contact (supermarkets, pharmacies, takeaways etc.)

Another change for this Level 3 is that businesses and services will be required to ensure that everyone over the age of 12 (including customers) sign-in on entry, beginning 7 days after the Alert Level change. However, businesses will reportedly not be required to force customers to leave if they refuse to sign in.

Travel across regional boundaries will be heavily restricted. In particular, travel across an Alert Level boundary can only occur for a permitted reason unless an exemption is given. Business travel across an Alert Level boundary is only permitted if one works for an Alert Level 4 business, they work for a business or service that is exempt from the order, or they are travelling through an Alert 4 area. Travellers must carry evidence that their travel is permitted (e.g. delivery dockets or a special Business Travel Document) and photo ID. If travel is essential but not permitted, an application must be made for an exemption. However, in this Delta outbreak, it is not necessarily the case that if an exemption was granted during previous outbreaks that it will be granted this time around. Reportedly, the Government is going to be tougher this time.

Many businesses will be relieved to begin operating again. However, they will have to ensure they do so safely and comply with all the new requirements that Delta has generated. But follow the rules and it’s back to business.