Advice for orchards and horticultural industries in alert level 3

Advice for working in Level 3 and protecting workers on orchards and in pack houses.

All businesses involved in horticulture can operate during Alert Level 3, provided they can do so safely. This includes businesses providing support services to the primary industries, and production of agricultural inputs and non-essential goods.

Businesses wanting to operate in Alert Level 3 need to operate safely to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Businesses that cannot meet safe practice during Alert Level 3 must remain closed. 

Safety assurances

Under Alert Level 3 all businesses permitted to operate should have a COVID-19 Safety Plan that sets out how they operate safely. More guidance on these safety assurances can be found on the Primary sector business page.

At Alert Level 3, businesses must keep records to help with contact tracing, if it is needed. You must have a record of everyone working at, or visiting, each location – employees, customers and clients, tradespeople, contractors, and couriers.

Primary sector business

Operating safely – WorkSafe

Doing business at Alert Level 3 - COVID-19


Flower growing and distribution can be undertaken during Alert Level 3, including bulb and seed growing, harvesting, processing and sales and exports.

Sales direct to consumers

Produce and goods can be sold only if it is by contactless delivery or pick up from the farm gate, cellar door or plant nursery.

During Alert Level 3, consumers cannot browse products in-store (except for supermarkets, dairies and petrol stations). This means that retail outlets, cellar doors, showrooms, and plant nurseries must be closed, and farmers’ markets cannot be held.

No on-site dining is allowed during Alert Level 3.

Impact of border measures on seasonal workers

An epidemic management notice relating to immigration took effect on 2 April 2020. Visa extensions made on that date still apply. Temporary visas expiring from 2 April to 9 July (inclusive) were extended until 25 September 2020. Conditions on extended visas are retained.

Immigration New Zealand has contacted all RSEs whose workers hold visas that expired on or before 1 April.

RSE workers hold limited visas and are unable to apply for another type of visa while in New Zealand. However new legislation gives the Minister of Immigration the power to issue new visas by special direction to stranded RSE workers without application so they can earn money while waiting to return home.

Find out which visas are being processed during COVID-19
Health's COVID-19 epidemic notice

Employer and worker obligations

Recognised seasonal employer (RSE) workers may need to move to where labour is needed to support continued food production. Any movement of RSE workers will be carefully managed by their employer. Their employer is fully responsible for the arrangement and safety of their workers while in transit.

If a RSE worker currently in New Zealand is required to isolate themselves for 14 days during their time here, their employer must make appropriate accommodation and pastoral care facilities available.

RSE COVID-19 information

If an orchard or pack house worker is sick with COVID-19

Like other businesses, horticulture industries should regularly check staff health and ensure staff who are ill with COVID-like symptoms do not work. Report the situation to the Healthline or local GP. Please telephone – do not arrive in person.

If someone becomes sick with COVID-19 it’s critical they self-isolate, which means stay at home and recover.

Advice on staying at home - COVID-19

Self-isolation for close contacts

Anyone who has been identified as a close contact of a suspect or confirmed case will be required to self-isolate, report to their manager, and to not come to work for 14 days.

This includes staff who have returned to reside in a region at a lower Alert Level.

Self isolation for close contacts - Ministry of Health

Exporting fruit from a packhouse that has had a confirmed case of COVID-19

Coronaviruses cannot grow in food – they need a host (animal or human) to grow in and there is no evidence of COVID-19 spreading via food. The virus is commonly transmitted through direct mucous membrane contact by infectious droplets and aerosols, e.g. through breathing in aerosol after an infected person has coughed or sneezed.

COVID-19 advice for businesses at Level 3

COVID-19 and food safety at Level 3

Visit the COVID-19 website for up to date government information and guidance, including for businesses and organisations.


Help available for horticulture industries

The Government has launched a wage subsidy and leave payment scheme to help employers.
Wage subsidy and leave payment - Covid19

You can also talk to your industry group, such as Horticulture New Zealand, New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers and New Zealand Apples and Pears.

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