Frequently asked questions in Alert Level 3
Answers to the latest questions about Alert Level 3 and what it means for the primary industries.
Who can operate under Alert Level 3 in the primary sector?
Under Alert Level 3, primary sector businesses will be able to operate.
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.
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.
What are the rules about travelling for work in Alert Level 3 and across Alert Level boundaries?
If you are a business that requires travel across the alert level boundary for work, information about permitted travel, the Business Travel Register, and exemptions is available on MBIE’s website.
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.
It’s important to note that you cannot use the same travel documentation used during previous Alert Level events and must apply again.
Businesses and workers need to continue to comply with the Government’s COVID-19 Alert Level settings and observe any protocols for their particular industry.
What will be expected of businesses?
Under Alert Level 3 all 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 sector 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,
- primary produce retailer (e.g. greengrocer, fish monger, or butcher),
- 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.
- Businesses that keep animals, such as zoos and aquariums are not permitted to open to the public
- Employees should work from home if possible.
What about scheduled food verification?
For businesses that can operate during Alert Level 3, it’s important that scheduled food verification services continue to make sure food safety is managed properly.
We have set up a Remote Check System of Food Act 2014 businesses. This means that Food Act verifiers, who have completed the necessary Remote Check training, can complete scheduled verifications with food businesses off-site, via a phone call or using online technology such as Skype.
For more information, verifiers can visit the Food Verifiers Academy. Food businesses owners/managers can contact their verifier or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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).
Information about permitted travel, and what is required, can be found on the MBIE website and updated regularly.
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:
- Installation of cattle yards
- Supply of sphagnum moss for use in water treatment
- Pest management (incl. vector control)
- 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 primary 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.
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.
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 Business.govt.nz for details about the small business loan scheme. Federated Farmers, your industry group, or professional body can also help.
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.