COVID-19 – Moving to Level 2

COVID-19 Newsletter #5 – Moving to Level 2 – What you need to know about “Playing it Safe” (12 May 2020)

The Government has announced that New Zealand will move to Level 2 in stages, starting this week.  Retail, malls, gyms, and cinemas can open from 14 May, schools from 18 May, and bars from 21 May, as long as that can be done safely.  Domestic travel will also be allowed.

We have set out below the general principles that will determine how businesses can reopen at Level 2. Please keep in mind that the situation (and government and industry guidance) is constantly evolving.

Can I reopen under Level 2, and how?

If you can operate safely at Level 2, you may reopen. 

‘Safely’ means that the risk of contracting COVID-19 is reduced. To achieve that reduction, you must observe the following requirements:

  • Social gatherings can be no more than 10 people.
  • Contact tracing of all visitors is to be implemented. Worksafe’s expectations of how this should operate can be found here:
  • There must be a physical distance of 1 metre between groups of customers, in combination with other effective controls. If other effective controls cannot be put in place then the distance between groups of customers should be 2 metres.
  • General hygiene practises are maintained, like those required under Level 3 (hand washing, regularly disinfecting commonly touched surfaces, coughing or sneezing into elbows).

Wherever possible, businesses are encouraged to continue working from home or consider other alternative arrangements, such as working in shifts and practicing physical distancing. If your staff are coming back onsite, you should discuss with them ways that you can work together to minimise the risks. You should also expect a reduced level of service on public transport, due to social distancing, which may cause staffing delays.

Additional rules for some industries

For some industries, these requirements plus additional specific rules apply.  We have outlined those below, and recommend that you keep an eye on the MBIE website for further industry specific updates in the coming days. You can also find some Worksafe endorsed industry guidance here:

Hairdressers, beauticians, home help:

If you cannot operate without close client contact, you must have the following:

  • A robust contact tracing system in place.
  • Good hygiene practices, including disinfecting commonly touched surfaces and equipment.
  • Appropriate PPE to be worn by staff (the Ministry of Health will provide guidance on how to obtain this).
  • Minimal contact with each client as far as that is possible.


Bars, restaurant and cafes will be able to let customers visit their premises.  Additional measures apply, referred to as the ‘three S’s’ principle:  groups of customers must be physically separated 1 metre apart, customers must be seated and cannot stand, for instance, at the bar, and each table can only be served by the same server.

PPE is not required.

Can I undertake some preparation to reopen, and how?

If you need to prepare for reopening, you may undertake this only if you observe the current rules for Level 3.  Level 3 is broadly characterised as ‘contactless,’ meaning customers cannot visit you (for example) instore, and you must be observing stringent hygiene measures.

If you’re unsure about what Level 3 should like for you, please refer to our previous newsletter on the matter or contact us for advice.

If I am already open, does the change from Level 3 to Level 2 mean anything for me?

Yes, it means that customers may now visit you onsite. You will also need to implement a contact tracing register.

The stringent hygiene measures you should have been observing under Level 3 remain unchanged.

Is there anything else I need to know?

We recommend that if you’re unsure about what operating safely under Level 2 will look like for you, you keep an eye out for Government guidance specific for your industry in the following days, contact any industry organisations for further guidance, or reach out to us with your questions.

Other updates:

The Covid-19 Essential Workers Leave Support scheme has been extended since our newsletter of 9 April.  This support, for workers required to self-isolate, is no longer only available for essential workers.  It is now available for any workers who meet the eligibility criteria (apart from those employed in the state sector).  The name of the scheme has also changed – it is now called ‘Covid-19 Leave Support Scheme’.   Please see our newsletter of 9 April for information on eligibility requirements, or contact us directly for advice.

The advice provided here is general. 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) – or 021 614 215

Guido Ballara (Partner) – or 021 782 891

Frances Lear (Senior Associate) – or 021 237 7811

Saadi Radcliffe (Solicitor) – or 021 557 236

Emma Rose Luxton (Solicitor) – 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

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