Frequently asked questions in Alert Level 3

Find answers to the latest questions about Alert Level 3.

Who can operate under Alert Level 3 in the primary sector?

Under Alert Level 3, all primary sector businesses will be able to operate. Some businesses will require an exemption.

More 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.

Latest information about businesses that can operate during Alert Level 3 – COVID-19

Business travel across Alert Level boundaries – MBIE 

Do I need to register as an essential business in Level 3?

Primary sector businesses do not need to register with MPI to be able to operate under Alert Level 3, so long as they can do so safely.

Register to travel

MBIE has developed a Business Travel Register to enable businesses and organisations to request travel documents: either for permitted activities or, if required, to seek an exemption to travel from the Director-General of Health if your business activity does not appear on the permitted activities list referred to above.

The Business Travel Register will generate Business Travel Documents for workers to display at checkpoints. This includes a QR code, which enables Police at the cordon to verify the document digitally against the travel register. It is important that you register your businesses for travel.

Business travel across Alert Level boundaries – MBIE 

What are the rules about travelling for work in Alert Level 3?

Travel, including between regions, is allowed for workers travelling to do essential work, including in primary sector businesses.  In order to travel across the Alert Level boundary, you will need to have proof that you either fit into a permitted activity or have a specific exemption to travel.

Alert Level details [PDF 274KB]

Regional travel – COVID-19

Apply for business travel across Alert Level boundaries – MBIE 

What will be expected of businesses?

Under Alert Level 3 businesses must protect their workers and the public by limiting face-to-face contact and reducing the potential spread of COVID-19 using measures such as physical distancing and additional hygiene protocols. 

If these measures cannot be taken, premises should remain closed.

Specifically, to operate under Alert Level 3:

  • All primary industry businesses will have to operate safely to protect staff and the public from COVID-19.
  • Businesses cannot offer services that involve close personal contact. Exemptions to this are:
    • a supermarket,
    • dairy,
    • primary produce retailer (e.g. greengrocer, fish monger, or butcher),
    • pharmacy,
    • petrol station, 
    • hardware store providing goods to trade customers, 
    • or it is an emergency or critical situation
  • Retail premises can only open to customers for delivery or pick-up-at-door.  No browsing of products or consumption of food and drink will be allowed on premises.
  • Businesses must adhere to conditions on gatherings.
  • Online options need to be considered for primary sector businesses where the public would normally attend, such as stock sales and wool auctions.
  • Businesses that keep animals, such as zoos and aquariums are not permitted to open to the public
  • Employees should work from home if possible.

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

Can I operate if I provide support services to the sector?

Yes.  Businesses that supply support to primary sector businesses can operate, provided they protect their workers and the public by limiting personal contact and reducing the potential spread of COVID-19 (e.g. using physical distancing and implementing additional hygiene measures).

Some businesses will require an exemption. Information about permitted travel, and what is required, can be found on the MBIE website and updated regularly.

Business travel across Alert Level boundaries – MBIE 

What are examples of primary sector support services?

Under Alert Level 3, firms that supply support to primary sector businesses will also be able to operate.

Examples of the types of support services/activities that can operate under Alert level 3 include, but are not limited to:

  • Farriers
  • Installation of cattle yards
  • Supply of sphagnum moss for use in water treatment
  • Pest management (incl. vector control)
  • Fencing
  • Farm advisory services
  • Research and science servicing the primary sectors
  • Wholesalers [subject to suitable protocols being established]
  • Firewood, manufacturing and timber supplies
  • Farm property sales and settlements
  • Relocation to new farm property
  • Construction of farm sheds, barns, herd homes
  • Routine plant, farm and gear maintenance (including that which is non-essential)
  • Manufacture, distribution and application of agricultural inputs (including that which is non-essential)
  • Logistics and transport services for priary sector exporters (such as freight forwarders)

Stock sales and wool auctions are permitted - subject to suitable protocols being established and run online where possible.

Agricultural supply stores and pet stores can operate, as long as they deliver goods or provide contactless pickup.

What are the rules for physical distancing in the workplace under Alert Level 3?

During Alert Level 3 all workplaces should strive for social distancing of 1 metre.

Where 1 metre distancing cannot be reasonably maintained on processing lines, measures should be put in place for workers.

Alternative ways of working to keep employees safe, include shift-based working, staggered meal breaks, flexible leave arrangements and providing personal protective equipment.

It is necessary to follow basic hygiene measures to keep yourself and your co-workers from COVID-19. They are the most important way to stop the spread of infections.

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

When can I hire new employees?

You can hire employees at any alert level. However, interviews should be done remotely at Alert Level 3.

When can I meet with new or existing clients?

At Alert Level 3 you should only meet with existing or new clients remotely, unless this is in the course of providing an essential service. 

My staff say they cannot work until the schools have opened back up – what should I do?

Under Level 3, those who can work from home should continue to do so.

Usual employment rights and obligations continue during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Employers and employees need to keep in regular contact and act in good faith. 

If an employee has personal commitments such as childcare or caring for a sick family member, they can use their existing leave entitlements. Options could include taking accrued annual leave, sick leave, and annual leave in advance, paid special leave, or unpaid leave. 

Guidance on the Employment New Zealand website

My business still can’t fully operate under Alert Level 3 – what financial support is available?

If your business is unable to safely operate in some way at Alert Level 3, we encourage you to seek out advice now. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has a list of organisations who want to help. 

Go to for details about the small business loan scheme.  Federated Farmers, your industry group, or professional body can also help.

Small business loan scheme –

List of government agencies –MBIE

Can farmers’ markets, cellar door and gate sales be held during Alert Level 3?

Sales of primary produce direct to consumers can be done only by contactless delivery or pre-arranged contactless pick up.  In other words, consumers cannot physically browse for goods. 

This will mean that farmers’ markets cannot be held, but pre-arranged collection of goods bought online or by phone can be arranged.

Can I fish recreationally?

Recreational and other non-commercial fishing can be undertaken using hand-gathering methods in shallow water (under 1 metre depth) or line-fishing from shore only.

The most important principles here are to:

  • stay close to home
  • stay 2 metres away from people not in your bubble
  • not do activity that could get you hurt and require medical care or rescuing (putting essential workers at risk). People should not be fishing from rocks where doing so would put them in danger.
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