COVID-19 Alert Level 4: What it means for businesses

As of August 17, 2021 at 11.59pm, all of New Zealand is in Alert Level 4 due to a community case of the COVID-19 Delta variant. 

Coming more than one year after the 2020 lockdown, the Government has refined its Alert Level processes and information, meaning a few changes to what Alert Level 4 looks like for businesses. 

Please scroll down for business support information. 

Only certain businesses may remain open to the public during the Alert Level 4 period. If a business is not sure if it provides Alert Level 4 services or products, it should close. 

If you are a business or worker in a non-Alert-Level-4 business, you may still work — as long as this is from home. If you cannot work remotely, you must stay home.

Businesses that can have customers on their premises

You can open to customers if you are a:  

  • supermarket, dairy or food bank
  • liquor store (in Licensing Trust Areas)
  • petrol station
  • self-service laundry 
  • health service, or an entity involved with the deceased or producing health sector materials  
  • accommodation service
  • court or tribunal
  • social and community-based service to maintain critical wellbeing or crisis support 
  • emergency services 
  • Parliamentary services 
  • transport and logistics service, including passenger transport by road, rail, air or sea
  • school hostel.

All other businesses must not have customers on their premises. 

For businesses that are able to operate

If your employees need to work on site, you should:  

  • limit the number of people on site so everyone can safely stay 2 metres apart  
  • offer flexible working arrangements, for example, staggered meal breaks, or staggered start and finish times to help with physical distancing 
  • clean and disinfect your workplace regularly   
  • provide employees with hand washing facilities   
  • have personal protective equipment (PPE) available for employees to use  
  • display your QR code and have an alternative contact tracing system for workers and customers to use.  

If your business cannot meet all Alert Level 4 rules to operate safely, your workers should not go into work.  

Travelling to work at Alert Level 4

If your employees need to go into the premises or work on site, they can use public transport to commute.   

Employees may be asked to show who they work for so they can prove they have a reason to travel. We recommend you provide your employees with a letter to confirm who they are, and their role.  

Everyone legally must wear a face covering on all public transport, unless they have an exemption.  

If someone at work has COVID-19

If an employee finds out they have tested positive for COVID-19 while they are at work, they must tell you immediately.  

You may be directed by a medical officer of health to comply with certain public health measures to limit the spread of COVID-19, and protect your employees, their whānau and your community. 

The Ministry of Health has guidance on what you need to do if an employee, customer or visitor is a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19. 

Guidance for workplaces that have a case of COVID-19

If an employee develops symptoms of COVID-19 at work, send them home and ask them to call Healthline or their GP for advice on getting a test. 

If your business is a location of interest

If your business is identified as a location of interest, you will be contacted by a public health official. The public health official will talk you through what this means for you. 

The Ministry of Health has guidance on what to tell your staff and customers if you’re identified as a location of interest and how to identify any contacts who may have been exposed to COVID-19. 

If your business is a location of interest | Ministry of Health

Government business support

Significant Government support for businesses and workers has been triggered following a rise in alert levels to combat COVID-19 in the community.

The measures include:

The Wage Subsidy Scheme (WSS) which is available nationally when there is a regional or national move to Alert Levels 3 and 4 for a period of seven days and helps eligible businesses keep paying staff and protect jobs. 

The WSS rates have been increased to reflect the increase in wage costs since the scheme was first used in March 2020. Businesses will be eligible for $600 per week per full-time equivalent employee, and $359 per week per part-time employee.

Applications are open from Friday, August 20. 

FIND OUT MORE HERE.

The Resurgence Support Payment (RSP) is a payment to help support businesses or organisations with one-off costs due to a COVID-19 alert level increase to level 2 or higher. This is available to eligible firms at the same time as the WSS. 

When the RSP is activated, eligible businesses and organisations can apply to receive the lesser of:

  • $1,500 plus $400 per full-time equivalent (FTE) employee, up to a maximum of 50 FTEs
  • four times (4x) the actual revenue decline experienced by the applicant.

ACCESS THE RSP HERE. 

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.

Both the Leave Support Scheme (LSS) and Short-Term Absence Payment (STAP) rates will also be increased in line with the WSS, as each of these payments is set at the same rate.

You can find out more about COVID-19 Alert Levels, guidelines and information at the Unite Against COVID-19 website here.