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.

More information about permitted activities and travel across Alert Level boundaries can be found on the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment (MBIE)'s website.

Business travel across Alert Level boundaries – MBIE 

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. 

Floriculture workers may not cross an Alert Level boundary, as this is not food or beverage making or processing. They would need an exemption.

Information about permitted travel, and what is required, can be found on the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment’s (MBIE) website and will be updated regularly.

Business travel across Alert Level boundaries – MBIE 

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, greengrocers, fish mongers, and butchers). 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.

Recognised Seasonal Employers Scheme

2000 Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) workers have been approved to travel to New Zealand between January and March 2021 and will transfer directly on arrival to government managed isolation facilities for a 14 day stay.

Once clear to work here, they 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.

RSE information – Immigration New Zealand

RSE employer information – Immigration New Zealand

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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