COVID-19 and animal welfare in Alert Level 3

Information about caring for pets and livestock in Alert Level 3

Contact with animals

There remains no evidence that domestic animals (pets or livestock) can spread COVID-19 and routine testing of animals for COVID-19 is not justified.

However, it’s good practice to wash your hands before and after interacting with animals. 

International advice is that, as a precautionary measure, people sick with COVID-19 should avoid contact with pets and other animals, as they would with people.

Where there is COVID-19 in a household, it is recommended that animals are not moved off the property.

You can also check for new updates on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)'s website.

Frequently asked questions on COVID-19 – CDC

Questions and answers on COVID-19 – OIE

Coronavirus disease 2019 – CDC

If your pet or service animal needs to go to the veterinarian

If you are not sick with COVID-19 or another communicable disease like the flu or a cold, call your veterinarian to discuss whether your animal needs veterinary attention.

If you are sick with COVID-19 or another disease, you should stay at home and minimise contact with others until you are well. Any non-urgent pet appointments should be rescheduled.

If your animal’s situation is urgent and you have COVID-19, or suspect you might, call your veterinarian to determine how to best ensure your pet or service animal can be appropriately cared for while minimizing risks of transmitting COVID-19 to other people.

Do not take your animal to a veterinary clinic until you have contacted your veterinarian.

Travel advice

Travel, including between regions, is allowed for workers travelling to do essential work, including in primary sector businesses. Some businesses will require 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 

Alert Level details  [PDF 274KB]

Regional travel – COVID-19

Transport of freight, including animals, is allowed if certain measures are taken. A professional transporter can transport your animal(s) as freight if they can operate safely, including pick-up and drop-off without physical contact with customers.

Transport and travel by alert level – Ministry of Transport

Walking dogs

You can continue to walk your dog under any of the COVID-19 Alert Levels.

Some key points to follow are:

  • Act like you have COVID-19. Every move you make could be a risk to someone else.
  • Maintain a distance of at least one metre from other people, and don’t invite anyone who isn’t already in your "bubble" to join you.
  • If at all possible, walk from your house, rather than driving to a walking area. If it is essential to drive to a walking area (e.g. you live on a rural road) - keep it local.
  • Walk your dog on a leash. Don’t do anything that may require help if you or your dog end up getting into trouble.

If someone in the household has COVID-19, then any dogs in the household should not be exercised off the property.


Visiting your horses

Farming and caring for the welfare of stock is an essential service so can occur under Alert Level 3. This includes providing your animals with food, water and any other aspect that you need to provide to meet your responsibilities under the Animal Welfare Act and relevant codes of welfare.

If your horse can be cared for by the owner of the stables or grazing facility at which your horse is based, then you should stay at home. Their welfare is not at risk and limiting people movement is the priority.

If you do leave your house to attend to your animals, take the necessary health measures, and comply with any region-specific travel measures.

Regional travel – COVID-19

Travel within New Zealand – Ministry of Health

Riding locally

Horse riding (away from private land) is a recreational activity and allowed under Alert Level 3.

It is important that you ride in a local area, which you can do safely, and which does not involve interacting with other people from outside your bubble, or equipment touched by other people.

If you do leave your house to attend to your animals, take the necessary health measures, and comply with any region-specific travel measures.

Now is not the time to take up new activities, or expose yourself to any risk that would put pressure on emergency services in case of an accident. Use your common sense – stay local, stay safe.


Regional travel - COVID-19

Riding lessons

Coaches and trainers are permitted travel to provide horse riding lessons under Alert Level 3, as long as relevant infection control measures are applied, including physical distancing requirements, and the service is provided in the same, or a nearby, region with the same alert level.

Riding schools cannot have clients on site. Clients are not permitted to travel to a school or coach.

Caring for horses – Farriers 

Farriers can operate under Alert Level 3, as long as public health measures are taken to minimise the risk of COVID-19 transmission. 

If a farrier is called, they must the necessary health measures, and comply with any region-specific travel measures.

Pet supplies

Pet stores can fill online and phone orders, but the stores themselves must remain closed to the public.

Online sales for delivery of animal food and other essential products may continue. Any fulfilment centre must observe social distancing practices. Pick-ups and deliveries must be contactless. Where essential items cannot be shipped (bulky/perishable), the customer may pick up, but only by pre-arrangement and without human contact.

Veterinary practices and services within pet retail outlets follow the same requirements as veterinarians.

Pet retail outlets need to have provisions in place for staff to safely attend to any animals in store.

Read more on physical distancing rules for this Alert Level - COVID-19


Caring for your animals, including bees, is an essential service so can occur under Alert Level 3. Managing disease and preventing starvation are vital to ensure bee health and survival. Hives can still be managed for this purpose.

It is recommended that non-commercial beekeepers limit any beekeeping activities outside of your home property during the period of lockdown. However, if you do have hives away from your home property and need to feed or treat them for disease, communication with landowners should be by phone. Restrict on farm interactions with landowners to a wave.  

You should use your own equipment to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. If you do leave your house to attend to your animals, take the necessary health measures, and comply with any region-specific travel measures.

For information about travel in and out of Auckland during the Covid-19 Alert Level 3 period, visit the Ministry of Health website and the All of Government Covid-19 website.

Advice for travellers - Ministry of Health  

Regional travel - COVID-19

You should also consider what will happen should you become sick and can no longer care for your bees. If possible, set up an arrangement with someone to provide hive management should you be unable to. 

MPI’s role in maintaining animal welfare during the pandemic

We have a role during emergencies to co-ordinate animal welfare services and to make sure animal welfare needs are considered. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we can help animal owners meet their animal’s needs if they (or whoever is in charge of it) cannot.

Support for animal welfare community agencies

We are aware that some community agencies are being approached by animal owners who are dealing with a range of challenges because of the pandemic.

We have collated a list of agencies that volunteer organisations can use to direct animal owners to the specific help they need.

Support for the primary industries during COVID-19

For further questions

If you have questions about animal welfare, email

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