COVID-19 – Level 3 Update

COVID-19 Newsletter #4 – Moving to Level 3 – What you need to know

New Zealand is (currently) moving to Level 3 at 11.59pm on Monday 27 April. The guidance from the Government on this Level indicates that there are some businesses that may reopen if they can operate safely.

The Government has also indicated that some preparation to reopen at Level 3 can occur during Level 4, but only if that preparation occurs in accordance with the requirements of Level 4.

We provide further guidance on what this may mean for you below, and keep in mind that the situation (and industry guidance) is constantly evolving.

Can I reopen under Level 3, and how?

Whether you can reopen depends on the risk of spreading the virus associated with your business. WorkSafe has released guidance to assist you in conducting your own risk self-assessment, which requires you to consider how you can:

  • address the risks associated with COVID-19, as well as risks that may arise due to a return to operations; and
  • understand the practicalities of changing work arrangements; and
  • be confident that new health and safety practices will enable your staff and their families to remain well.

A quick guide on the kind of self-assessment you need to undertake can be found here: file:///C:/Users/emmarose/Downloads/839WKS-5-HSWA-identifying-assessing-managing-work-risks.pdf

If you’re planning on reopening, you will need to complete a written safety plan. More information about that can be found here: https://worksafe.govt.nz/managing-health-and-safety/novel-coronavirus-covid-19/your-covid-19-safety-plan/

The Government has released some general guidance for specific industries and has indicated there is more to come. Industry organisations may also release specific guidance for certain sectors and kinds of workplaces. We have collated some general guidance in the table below.

Note that if you reopen or are open, regardless of your industry, you must record who is working together, limit interaction between groups of workers, disinfect surfaces, ensure that staff keep at least one metre away from each other, and maintain high hygiene standards. Most workers will not require PPE to stay safe at work (if you haven’t already had to use PPE): this especially applies to retailers, manufacturers and the service industries.

Type of Business Reopen Required Measures  
Businesses with limited necessary customer contact, such as hospitality or retail.   Yes May be open for only delivery and contactless pre-ordered pick up. Customers cannot enter stores. Paying with cash is strongly discouraged and only if there is no alternative.  
Real Estate agents Yes May enter homes but customers are not allowed into offices, open homes are prohibited.  
Businesses with necessary, sustained, close customer contact, such as hairdressers, massage therapists, door to door salespeople, domestic cleaners, personal trainers, and gymnasiums   No  
Construction workers   Yes Strict hygiene measures must be put in place.  
Tradespeople for in-home repairs or installations Yes Must always maintain 2 m distance, handwashing and sanitary measures.  
Office staff No Staff who can work from home should continue to do so.  
Supermarkets, dairies and petrol stations, pharmacy or permitted health service.   Yes Continue to allow customers into their stores, with the same restrictions and measures in place as already in Level 4.
Recreational activities, such as libraries, cinemas, food courts, markets No  
Call Centres Yes Call centres may run from premises where staff cannot work from home and must always maintain 2 m distance, handwashing and sanitary measures.  
Removal or furniture moving companies Yes Must always maintain 2 m distance, handwashing and sanitary measures.  

Can I undertake some preparation to reopen, and how?

If you need to, for instance, prepare for reopening by unpacking and preparing stock, you may undertake this kind of work but only if you observe the current rules for Level 4.

The requirements for operating under Level 4 can be found here, and can be understood as strict social distancing and stringent hygiene measures: https://covid19.govt.nz/alert-system/current-covid-19-alert-level/

Does this affect the wage subsidy?

No, if you have applied for and received the wage subsidy your obligations to your employees remain the same, regardless of whether you are open, reopening, or neither.  

Is there anything else I need to know?

If you are unable to open under Level 3, you may be able to reopen under Level 2. The Government has indicated that at Levels 1 and 2, for instance, retail and hospitality may open for customers to come into the physical store, subject to the public health measures required at those alert levels. Restrictions on gatherings will also apply.

We recommend that if you’re unsure about what operating safely under Level 3 will look like for you, you keep an eye out for Government guidance in the following days, contact any industry organisations who may have more specific guidance, or reach out to us with your questions.

The advice provided here is general and may not apply to your own situation. For specific advice, we recommend you talk to one of our experts (all currently working from home). You can call us on our mobile numbers listed below, or contact us via email, and please stay safe:

Paul McBride (Partner) – paul@mdjlaw.co.nz or 021 614 215

Guido Ballara (Partner) – guido@mdjlaw.co.nz or 021 782 891

Frances Lear (Senior Associate) – frances@mdjlaw.co.nz or 021 237 7811

Saadi Radcliffe (Solicitor) – saadi@mdjlaw.co.nz or 021 557 236

Emma Rose Luxton (Solicitor) – emmarose@mdjlaw.co.nz or 021 751 247

Disclaimer – this newsletter is necessarily brief and general in nature.  You should therefore seek professional legal advice before taking any action in relation to any matter addressed above.  © McBride Davenport James