There’s been a lot of talk about how Alert Level 3 is going to change the way many businesses and organisations can operate. It’s important to have the facts because it may affect:

  • finances;
  • Government assistance;
  • leases and rent obligations; and
  • employment.

Although the Prime Minister gave one week’s notice that NZ would move to Alert Level 3, the Health Act (COVID-19 Alert Level 3) Order 2020 was published during the weekend immediately before coming into force (at 11.59 pm on Monday, 27 April 2020).  This is the final word about the limits on opening for business.     

There are two relevant parts:

First, an increase in the exceptions for essential personal movement. There is a new exception which affects those who would regularly be in the workplace whether they’re employees, contractors or business owners. It does not apply to those who are subject to the mandatory quarantine or managed isolation requirements, etc.

Second, the exceptions to the closure of workplaces if a business or organisation can comply with the relevant infection control measures.

Individuals (whether employees, contractors or business owners)

Individuals are now allowed to leave their home or place of residence:

  • for the purpose of providing a business or service that has the relevant infection control measures in operation (see below); or
  • to do necessary work in any restricted premises, for example, minimum basic operations required to maintain the condition or value of, or clean, the premises, plant, equipment, or goods, care for animals, receive stock or freight, and enable and support workers to be able to continue to work remotely from their homes,

If the workplace is in same or an adjacent region as the individual’s residence.

In the above exception:

  • “restricted premises” means all premises except private dwelling houses, Parliament and its precincts, Courthouses and prisons; and
  • a “region” is a region of a Regional Council.


There are different sets of infection control measures depending on the category that applies to a business or organisation.

There are five categories of business or service:

  • Category A – key Government health, law enforcement and emergency services as well as: services provided by Oranga Tāmariki to keep children safe; pre-school centres and schools; and transport services provided by any small passenger service vehicles and rental car services;
  • Category B – supermarkets, dairies, petrol stations, pharmacies and accommodation services;
  • Venue businesses (i.e. venues for hire to host gatherings);
  • Public transport services; and
  • Category C – everyone else.

Category C (infection control measures)

A Category C business or organisation can only open if it can comply with the following infection control measures:

  1. physical distancing measure (for Category C this means remaining 1 metre away from people or, if closer than 1 metre, being there for less than 15 minutes); and
  2. contact tracing measure (this can easily be achieved by keeping a register or log of who enters and when those individuals depart i.e. employees, contractors or business owners need to sign in and sign out); and
  3. on-premises customers and clients prohibition measure i.e.
    • ensure no customers or clients enter the premises (other than only, and then to the minimum extent necessary, to collect goods through a method that minimises physical contact and does not involve entering a building); and
    • ensure there is no close personal contact with customers or clients.

Infection control measures make it impossible for some businesses to open their premises e.g. because they can’t ensure physical distancing (e.g. hairdressers).

For more information

We recommend you contact us for advice about how these changes affect you whether you’re a business owner, tenant, landlord, employer or employee. Give us a call on 04 472 0020 or email Peter Barrett at

COVID-19 - Limits on Opening for Business - JB Morrison