Coming to the end of week three in the national lockdown, many were tuned in to the announcement by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. All hopes were on the announcement that the Alert Level would be moved from 4 down to 3 and some form of normalcy would return to the nation from next week. While there was no set-in-stone confirmation that the Alert Level would definitely be lowered next week, there was an update on what Alert Level 3 would look like in terms of personal movement, recreation, education, workers and business, travel and transport, gatherings, at risk people and guidance on staying safe and well as the situation continues.
Of key focus to employees and employers alike, was the update to “workers and business”. When New Zealand does make the move to Alert Level 3, most business will be able to open up again in a limited capacity and employers will need to ensure that robust health and safety precautions in place to protect their employees.
The current guidance for businesses for Alert Level 3 released today are:
Workers must work from home if they can
Workplaces must operate safely – keeping one metre between workers, recording who is working together, limiting interaction between groups of workers, disinfecting surfaces, and maintaining high hygiene standards
Retail and hospitality businesses can only open for delivery and contactless pre-ordered pick up –customers cannot enter stores
Supermarkets, dairies and petrol stations can continue to allow customers into their stores, with the same restrictions and measures in place as Alert Level 4
Businesses cannot offer services which involve face-to-face contact or sustained close contact (e.g. hairdressing, massage, house cleaning, or door-to-door salespeople)
Other in-home services can be delivered if it is safe to do so (like tradespeople for repairs or installations) – keep two metre separation from those in the house
Most workers will not require PPE to stay safe at work. Incorrectly used PPE can create more risk. Good hygiene measures like hand washing with soap and water, physical distancing, sneeze and cough etiquette, and wiping down surfaces is the best defence against COVID-19
Another update was for education in that under Alert Level 3, physical attendance at school for children up to year 10 will become voluntary. For those in years 11 and up, distance learning will still be in effect and they will continue to learn from home. You can read further information on education updates online on the Governments website.
The Government will release further guidance for employers in different sectors over the next few days.
We have taken care to ensure that the information given is accurate, however it is intended for general guidance only and should not be relied upon in individual cases. Professional advice should be always be sought before any decision or action is taken as instructions change on a regular basis.