There is plenty of change coming for New Zealand businesses around COVID-19; here are some helpful links.

All of New Zealand is now at Red

Protect yourself and our community by getting boosted, wearing a mask when out and about and reducing contact with others.

  • Boosters
    If you and your staff are have not received your Booster yet, please make this a priority.
  • Masks
    Please ensure masks are worn in public places, or where physical distancing can not be undertaken safely indoors. Also please ensure they are fitted properly and safely.
  • Be Prepared
    Have a buddy system in place in case you test positive, have a plan in place to ensure business continuity, and check in on each other.

Vaccine passes & mandates

My Vaccine Pass is an official record of your COVID-19 vaccination status for use within Aotearoa New Zealand. Anyone aged 12 and over who has had 2 COVID-19 vaccinations administered in New Zealand, or who has been given a medical exemption, can now request a My Vaccine Pass.

Under the new Protection Framework, regardless of Traffic Light status (green, orange or red), businesses, retail, and public facilities will generally be able to remain open for vaccinated people.

Businesses, events, organisations, community, and a range of sectors may legally choose to implement a vaccination entry requirement for customers. Note, essential services (such as supermarkets and pharmacies) will not require a vaccine pass to enter the business. 

If a business, organisation or service does not wish to request proof of vaccine, they will have to operate with strict limits on capacity and space requirements. They may need to close in Orange and/or Red levels.


The traffic light system also needs a new approach to how we manage COVID-19 in our communities and the Government has set out next steps around self-isolation. 

Everyone who tests positive for COVID-19 and everyone who lives with them, needs to isolate from the community to help stop the spread of the virus. There are two ways to self-isolate in Aotearoa: Isolating at home or in a suitable alternative accommodation, or in a managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) facility.

Isolating at home

When you test positive for COVID-19, you will need to isolate for at least 10 days while you recover from COVID-19. This can be in your home or suitable alternative accommodation.

Anyone you live with will need to stay home for the entire time you are isolating. If someone else in your household tests positive for COVID-19, you will be advised on how much longer you need to isolate for.

Managed isolation

Managed isolation facilities are in hotels across New Zealand where you can isolate for free, with your household for at least 10 days.

Support while self-isolating

While you are isolating at home, you will have a dedicated contact person to check up on you and make sure that you and your whānau are safe.

What it means to self-isolate:
  • Stay home. Do not go to work, school or public places.
  • Limit contact with others you live with — for example, sleep by yourself and limit the time you spend in shared spaces. If you cannot, you should stay at least two-metres apart and wear a face covering that covers your nose and mouth when near others.
  • Do not share items with others in your household — for example, dishes, toothbrushes, and towels.
  • Do your own laundry.
  • Do not have visitors in your home.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces regularly. This includes items frequently touched like door handles, light switches and phones.
  • We recommend opening windows to increase fresh air flow inside. The risk of spreading COVID-19 is highest in crowded and poorly ventilated indoor spaces.
  • If you need food, prescriptions or essential items get friends or family to leave them on your doorstep, or get supplies delivered.

Read full details on community management of COVID-19 here. 


Testing and returning to work during Omicron response

At each of the three phases to the Omicron response critical workforces will be supported to continue operating through a widespread community outbreak of the Omicron variant.

To ensure that sufficient workers are available to maintain critical infrastructure and supply chains throughout the Omicron outbreak, a critical services registration system will prioritise allocation of Rapid Antigen Tests to businesses and provide for return-to-work testing for asymptomatic close contacts who would otherwise be required to self-isolate. Click here to read more about the Critical Services Register system.

A critical worker is identified by their employer as a role within a critical industry as broadly defined by government that requires a person with particular skills who:

  • is required to undertake their role in person at the workplace; and
  • is in a role that must continue to be performed to either prevent an immediate risk of death or serious injury to a person or animal, or prevent serious harm (social, economic or physical) to significant numbers in the community. 

Businesses and organisations can self-assess if they meet the criteria for being critical. Click here to self-assess.

This approach will mean that critical workers who are close contacts will be able to return to work early, provided they return a negative RAT every day that they are at work throughout their required isolation period or as otherwise appropriate to their work setting.

They will only be able to go to work, not anywhere else – this protocol allows for return to work only. It does not mean that it ends isolation periods early.

The protocol will include:

  • Daily symptom checks, and a daily negative RAT result, are required prior to commencing work.
  • Strict use of a medical mask, donned before entry to the workplace, changed as needed during the day and strictly complying with any infection prevention and control protocols at work.
  • When mask is removed (eg for eating and drinking) physical distancing must be maintained – eat alone in a well-ventilated space where possible.
  • Travel alone to and from and around work or between jobs where possible.
  • Ensure good ventilation when in small spaces and masks must be worn by everyone present.
  • If symptoms develop at any stage, the worker will follow the public advice for close contacts with symptoms.

Managing a COVID-19 case at your business

At each phase of the Omicron response, there are different isolation and quarantine requirements for cases and contacts:

Phase One - cases must isolate for 14 days (release by health official) and contacts need to quarantine for 10 days (test days 5&8. If symptomatic test immediately).

Phase Two - cases need to isolate for 10 days (self-release after day 10 if asymptomatic for 72 hours) and contacts need to quarantine for 7 days (test on day 5).

Phase Three - cases need to isolate for 10 days (self-release after day 10 if asymptomatic for 72 hours) and contacts need to quarantine for 7 days (test if symptomatic).

At all three phases of the Omicron response, critical workers under the Critical Workforce Registration System and health workers will be supported by public health guidance to enable close asymptomatic contacts to work.

Covid-19 Financial Support for businesses

The COVID-19 Short-Term Absence Payment (STAP) is available for businesses, including self-employed people, to help pay their workers who cannot work from home while they wait for a COVID-19 test result.

It’s to help businesses keep paying eligible workers who:

  • cannot work from home, and
  • need to miss work to stay home while waiting for a COVID-19 test result (in line with public health guidance).

Access the STAP here.

The COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme (LSS) is available for employers, including self-employed people, to help pay their employees who need to self-isolate and can’t work from home.

This means your workers:

  • can’t come into work because they are in one of the affected groups and have been told to self-isolate, and
  • can’t work from home.

Access the LSS here.

If you employ 50 or fewer staff, you may be able to apply for the Small Business Cashflow Loan Scheme. This is a one-off 5 year loan.

You can borrow a maximum of $10,000 plus $1,800 per full-time-equivalent employee within your business.

  • When applying for the loan, you need to be able to declare that your business is viable.
  • Your business must have experienced a minimum 30% decline in actual or predicted revenue over the period of a month, compared with the same month last year. You can use the Revenue Estimator Tool to better understand your revenue.
  • Applications are open until December 31, 2023 through myIR. If your business does not have a myIR account, you will need to create one to apply.

Loans will be interest free if they are paid back within two years. The interest rate is 3% for a maximum term of five years. 

Access the SBCL Scheme here.