What does Alert Level 2 mean for your business?

The Government’s Alert Levels are here to stay in 2021, so it’s important that businesses familiarise themselves with the ins and outs.

business.govt.nz has provided rules and parameters for businesses to ensure they are prepared. 

Find out about the various Alert Levels here

Golden rules for business at Alert Level 2

Do everything you can to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission at work — we all have a part to play in keeping each other safe.

  1. COVID-19 is still out there. Play it safe.
  2. All businesses can operate if they can do so safely. Alternative ways of working are still encouraged where possible.
  3. Talk with your workers to identify risks and ways to manage them.
  4. Ask everyone, workers, contractors and customers, with cold or flu-like symptoms to stay away from your premises.
  5. Keep groups of customers 1 metre apart.
  6. Keep contact-tracing records of anyone who will have close interaction (workers, contractors or customers).
  7. Reduce the number of shared surfaces, and regularly disinfect them.
  8. Wash your hands. Wash your hands. Wash your hands.

At all alert levels, businesses need to meet all public health guidelines. These include the following, although they may change over time:

  • Regular disinfecting of surfaces.
  • Encouraging good hand hygiene by allowing frequent hand washing and sanitising.
  • Not having sick people in the workplace.
  • Meeting physical distancing requirements.

Visit covid19.govt.nz for the full public health guidance and restrictions on activities at different alert levels.

The Ministry of Health also has infectious disease control advice for workplaces.

WorkSafe has guidance on COVID-19 health and safety planning, as well as general guidance on health and safety.

If a business determines it cannot operate safely, or make the necessary changes to do so, it should not open.

Doing business safely

Businesses and workplaces legally must operate safely. This means:

  • complying with general Alert Level 2 settings
  • displaying an NZ COVID Tracer app QR code poster and having alternative contact tracing systems.
    Supermarkets, petrol stations and transport stations only need alternative systems to record workers.
  • maintaining hygiene measures, including physical distancing, handwashing and regularly cleaning surfaces, and
  • fulfilling all other health and safety obligations.

Business premises can open for staff and customers provided they meet public health requirements. Services can also be provided on customers’ premises, for example their home.

Close-contact services can operate if they meet public health measures including robust record keeping, good hygiene practices and minimise contact to the extent possible.

If a workplace cannot meet these measures it cannot open its physical premises. All businesses are encouraged to use alternative ways of working if possible.

If workers have cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms, we recommend they stay home.

Engaging with customers

At Alert Level 2, businesses can have customers on their premises.



Retail businesses, including malls, markets and takeaway shops legally must:

  • keep customers 2 metres apart
  • display an NZ COVID Tracer QR code. 

There is no maximum number of customers allowed in a store, as long as they can keep 2 metres apart at all times.

Services can also be provided on customers’ premises, for example, cleaning and home help.


Public facilities

If people can safely maintain 1 metre physical distance, there is no limit on how many people may safely be inside. Public facilities need to assess how many people may safely be inside the premises and still maintain 1 metre physical distancing.

Public facilities include:

  • swimming pools and gyms
  • libraries
  • museums.

All businesses legally must display an NZ COVID Tracer QR code for each business location and also legally must have an alternative contact tracing system.


Event facilities

Event facilities can have up to 100 people within any defined space. They also need to assess how many people can safely be inside the premises and still maintain 1 metre physical distancing. This could mean the facility needs to have fewer than 100 people in a defined space.

Event facilities include:

  • cinemas, theatres, stadiums, concert venues 
  • conference venues 
  • casinos.

All businesses legally must display an NZ COVID Tracer QR code for each business location and also legally must have an alternative contact tracing system.


For dine-in customers, restaurants, cafes and bars legally must:

  • have no more than 100 people in a defined space
  • have customers seated
  • keep groups of attendees separated 1 metre apart
  • have a single server per group, where practical
  • display an NZ COVID Tracer QR code
  • have an alternate contact tracing system for customers and workers.

While we recommend each table having a single server, each server can cover multiple tables.

People can order and collect from a counter, except for on-licence and club-licence premises.

Each business can decide if they will allow customers to use reusable cups and containers. If they allow it, we recommend managing food safety risks and adhering to food safety requirements. This applies to all reusable containers, including:

  • personal keep cups
  • in-house reusable coffee cup schemes used by coffee shops.

Advice for eating out and getting takeaways safely

Advice for going out to a bar or night club

Defined space

A defined space is a single indoor or outdoor space separated from other spaces.

If a place has more than 1 defined space, then people should not intermingle between the defined places. This includes when entering, leaving or using the toilet. It does not include workers.

This also applies to separate businesses that work from the same location. 


An indoor space is a single space if there are walls that substantially divide that space from other spaces. The walls can be permanent or temporary.


An outdoor space is a single space if there:

  • are walls that substantially divide that space from other spaces — the walls can be permanent or temporary, or
  • is at least 2 metres between all people in that space and any other people (outside that space).

Work involving close personal contact

For some businesses, close personal contact is required to deliver a service. This includes:

  • hairdressers
  • home help providers.

These businesses can operate if they have public health measures in place like:

  • keeping contact tracing registers 
  • keeping customers 1 metre apart, including while they’re waiting 
  • good hygiene practices
  • disinfecting surfaces in between customers.

Business support

The Government has a number of options for businesses affected by COVID-19 and the ensuing Alert Levels. 

You can view all the options on the COVID-19 page here.