A Guide to Business Operations at Varying COVID-19 Alert Levels

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With its commendable health response, New Zealand has lifted almost all of its coronavirus lockdown restrictions. The country reached its 100-day milestone with no new cases last August 9, 2020.

However, this doesn’t mean that things can go back to normal. On August 11, four new cases were confirmed after community quarantine restrictions eased. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern activated a resurgence plan to prevent further virus transmission. Auckland, where 58 out of 78 active cases are linked to (as of August 14), was placed in alert level 3 until August 30.

The rest of the country is at level 2. The restrictions will be reviewed on September 6.

All businesses can operate under these alert levels. However, they must operate under the rules of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Operations Restrictions under Alert Level 3

Although all businesses can operate, those that require close physical contact between the staff and the customers must stay closed.

Staff who can work remotely are encouraged to work from the safety of their homes. Those who can’t work from home can travel to their office if it’s within their region. Most people aren’t allowed to go across the Auckland regional boundary for work, even if their company is operating. Truck drivers, couriers, and other permitted workers can travel outside of their regions when necessary.

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Visit the covid19.govt.nz website to learn more about the travel restrictions in Auckland.

Business owners have the discretion of requiring their workers and customers to wear face coverings. You can use a uniform management system if you need your staff to wear face masks. This technology streamlines the process of ordering and reordering PPE, which is paramount at a time when some businesses have an oversupply of PPE and others are struggling with a shortage.

Workers must maintain a distance of 1 metre from each other. If they need to work more closely, they are required to use PPE, observe proper hand washing techniques, and regularly clean surfaces.

Business owners must keep track of everyone who enters and leaves the workplace, including customers, workers, vendors, and contractors.

Operations Restrictions under Alert Level 2

The guidelines for operating staff under Alert Level 2 are similar to those of Alert Level 3: frequent hand washing, appropriate PPE use, 1-metre social distancing, and increased sanitation practices.

Workers are allowed to travel to get to their workplace, provided that they don’t enter a region under Alert Level 3. Face masks are mandatory for public transport.

Business owners also need to monitor the people who come onto the workplace premises. Those with flu-like symptoms must be denied entry, whether they’re your employee, customer, or contractor.

As long as these public health guidelines are followed, the business can operate normally. However, companies that require close physical contact must keep contract tracing records on top of the hygiene and social distancing measures.

Visit the WorkSafe website for more sector-specific guidance on workplace operations. For information specific to primary industries, check the Ministry for Primary Industries website. Stay updated with news about the coronavirus and alert level updates to know if you’ll have to make adjustments with your operations.

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