Frequently asked questions in Alert Level 4
Answers to the latest questions about Alert Level 4 and what it means for the primary industries.
Topics on this page:
- Alert Level 4 businesses and services
- Advice for businesses and workers
- Pets and recreation
Am I an Alert Level 4 business or service?
For primary industries, if your business falls under one or more of these categories, you are considered an Alert Level 4 Business or Service:
- any entity involved in the harvesting, packaging, production and processing of food and beverage products, whether for domestic consumption or export
- any entity involved in relevant support services, such as food safety and verification, inspection or associated laboratory services and biosecurity functions
- any entity providing veterinary services
- any entity whose closure would jeopardise the maintenance of animal health or welfare standards.
Up-to-date information on what is an essential businesses is found on the COVID-19 website.
Further details on what Alert Level 4 Businesses or Services are with regard to primary industries and food production, including support services, are found on the Alert Level 4 Businesses or Services page.
Is forestry an Alert Level 4 business or service?
The majority of the forestry, wood processing and manufacturing sector has not been classified as an Alert Level 4 Business and Service.
The following activities can be undertaken under Alert Level 4:
- Essential elements of pulp and paper plants
- Key utilities, such as providing solid fuel including firewood.
Is the cut flowers, flower buds and bulbs industry an Alert Level 4 business or service?
The cut flowers/flower buds/bulbs industry is NOT an Alert Level 4 business or service.
Businesses involved in the industry have permission to operate at the minimum required to preserve their capital stock. However, they cannot sell their product in New Zealand, including to supermarkets and dairies, or export.
This approach is consistent with the general policy on all nurseries, which can also operate at the minimum required to preserve their capital stock.
Is commercial fishing considered an Alert Level 4 business or service?
Commercial fishers are an Alert Level 4 business or service and will continue operating.
What is safe social distancing in my workplace?
All establishments must strive for a minimum social distancing of 2 metres, in accordance with Ministry of Health guidance and MPI advice.
Where 2-metre distancing of workstations cannot be reasonably maintained on processing lines, in accordance with MOH advice, MPI expects that measures be put in place for workers at stations between 1 and 2 metres.
Workers must wear face masks.
Alternative ways of working to keep employees safe, include shift-based working, staggered meal breaks, and flexible leave arrangements.
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.
Can I travel to a farm or orchard for work?
If your employees need to go into the premises or work on site, they can use public transport to commute.
Employees may be asked to show who they work for so they can prove they have a reason to travel. We recommend you provide your employees with a letter to confirm who they are, and their role.
Everyone legally must wear a face covering on all public transport, unless they have an exemption.
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 against the travel register.
It’s important to note that you cannot use the same travel documentation used during previous alert level events and must apply again.
For information about testing of essential workers crossing the Alert Level boundary, visit the COVID-19 website.
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 happens if someone is sick with COVID-19 on a farm?
Like other businesses, farmers must 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. Visit the COVID-19 website for more advice. Also check with your sector industry body such as DairyNZ or Beef+Lamb New Zealand.
Can I transport stock within the boundaries of my property?
Yes. The aim of the Level 4 Alert lockdown is to protect human health, through staying at home and keeping away from other people. Moving stock around your own property is fine, as long as you make sure to take necessary precautions to ensure your health and safety.
Ministry of Transport provides guidance on private and public transport and freight. The movement of all freight (including animals) is permitted at Alert Level 4, including the ability of business and customers to send, distribute and receive freight. All freight can enter and leave the country.
Can I arrange for transport of stock between my main farm and my run-off, or transport my own stock?
Yes. Farming is an Alert Level 4 business or service and the needs of your stock must be met. If you need to transport stock to your run-off in order to keep them fed and healthy then you may do this.
During the Level 4 Alert, we are all asked to stay home and away from others as much as possible. As such, transport arrangements with your local stock carrier must allow for no direct contact between people. Talk to your transporter about the protocols they have in place for staff, owner and animals.
The important thing is to remain a physical distance of at least 2 metres from other people and practice good hygiene practices, such as hand washing.
Can I drove stock between my main farm and my run-off?
Yes, but within reason. Farming is as an Alert Level 4 business or service and the needs of your stock must be met. If you need to drove stock to your run-off in order to keep them fed and healthy then you may do so. This applies even if the stock needs to be moved to an area under higher levels of restrictions.
During the Level 4 Alert we are all asked to stay home and away from others as much as possible. As droving a long distance may take many days, it may be better to arrange transport with your local stock carrier.
The important thing is to remain a physical distance of at least 2 metres from other people, wear a face mask, and follow good hygiene practices, such as hand washing.
Can I transport stock for sale?
Yes. We recognise that farmers may need to sell stock during the Level 4 Alert period, to manage their feed budget.
While physical sale yards may be the usual way you buy and sell stock, during these extraordinary times sale yards will be closed in areas under Alert Level 4 restrictions in order to limit the spread of COVID-19 and protect New Zealanders.
We encourage farmers to look at alternative means of selling, such as online and paddock sales.
Can farmers transport their stock for sale in areas that are not under restrictions?
Transport of animals between properties, or between farm and slaughter plant can be arranged with your local stock carrier. Talk to your transporter about the protocols they have in place for staff, owner and animals.
Can shearing contractors and their staff still operate?
If you are able to shear or crutch your own sheep, this is preferable. Shearing is considered anAlert Level 4 business or service only where it is necessary for animal welfare and it cannot be deferred, or if it's undertaken to enable hygienic processing of the sheep. This means you can only provide shearing or crutching services if it is likely the sheep would suffer pain or distress otherwise, and when they are due to go for slaughter.
Can I still buy feed from rural supply stores?
Rural supply stores are essential businesses and may continue operating subject to certain conditions. Customers are not permitted into the store at all. You will need to contact your supplier by phone or email to see how they are taking orders, e.g. over the phone, online ordering. You will also need to confirm with them how to pay for your order and how it will get to you (pick-up or delivery) – this all needs to be contactless.
Some stores may fill orders for their account holders only while at Alert Level 4, while others are also processing orders for members of the public.
Who do I go to if I need help and advice on my business operations?
The COVID-19 website is a source of information for businesses relating to essential services and on financial support available.
Business owners should also seek advice from their key sector groups, such as DairyNZ, Beef+Lamb NZ, Horticulture New Zealand, their co-op and Federated Farmers regarding aspects such as business continuity, animal welfare and labour needs.
Can food carry COVID-19?
There is currently no evidence that people can catch COVID-19 from food or food packaging. COVID-19 is a respiratory illness and the transmission route is through person-to-person contact and through direct contact with respiratory droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes. However, all the usual food safety measures to prevent foodborne illness, including washing hands properly, apply.
Are home kill operators an Alert Level 4 business or service?
Yes, home kill operators can operate with social distancing and no retail sales to the public.
Is recreational fishing allowed?
You can fish from a wharf or the shore, but do not cast off the rocks or fish from a boat. Boating is not allowed. Keep it local – go to your nearest fishing spot, not your favourite fishing spot.
Can I visit my horses?
The overriding purpose of Alert Level 4 is that everyone stays at home to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
You can travel to care for your animals, including horses, if there is no alternative, and the location of the animal/s is within the same or adjacent territorial authority district. This includes providing your animals with food, water, and any other aspect that you need to provide to care for your animals.
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 have to leave your house to attend to your horse, you will need to apply for a travel exemption before you leave. To apply for a personal exemption to travel across or within an Alert Level boundary please visit Ministry of Health website online form
If your application is accepted, you must take the necessary health measures and comply with the Alert level measures specific to that region. Travel in your private vehicle and, if required, only with other members of your self-isolation group (or ‘social bubble’) only. Limit visits to what is essential.
You should also use your own grooming kit, tack, and other equipment to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. Avoid sharing equipment with people outside of your self-isolation group.
For horses grazed at a facility where feed or equipment may be stored centrally, take care to use good hygiene practices around door handles and other points which many owners may touch.
Can I ride my horse locally or outside my property?
Everyone is being encouraged not to ride in order to reduce the pressure on emergency services in case of an accident.
If you are caring for your horse directly, you may ride your horse within the boundaries of the property on which it’s kept under Alert Level 4. Do not transport your horse by float to ride somewhere else.
If your horse is based at a grazing facility or stables and the owner of the facility is caring for your horse while you are at Alert Level 4, stay at home.
Can I walk my dog while NZ is under COVID-19 restrictions?
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 2 metres from other people, and don’t invite anyone who isn’t already in your "bubble" to join you. Wear a mask while out walking.
- 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.
Can a farrier travel to my property to treat my horse?
The New Zealand Farriers Association has advised their farriers that the majority of their work can be postponed during the lockdown without compromising animal health. However, if the treatment is considered vital to maintain the welfare of the animal during the lockdown period then a local farrier should be called.
At Alert Level 4, transport and travel are restricted. Only travel for essential reasons, such as to go to work if you are an Alert Level 4 worker.
Can dogs or cats spread Covid-19?
The COVID-19 pandemic is driven by human-to-human transmission. There is no evidence that domestic animals (pets or livestock) play a role in the spread of COVID-19.
Routine testing of animals for COVID-19 is not justified - and this is in line with international guidelines. It remains good practice to wash hands properly before and after interacting with animals.
Any person ill with COVID-19 should avoid contact with pets and other animals. It is recommended domestic pets are isolated at home with their owners – and not moved off the property – when there is COVID-19 in a household. If your animals need treatment, contact your veterinary clinic.
Is MPI is still answering the 0800 00 83 33 line to take complaints regarding animal welfare?
Yes, we will continue to have Animal Welfare inspectors on duty throughout New Zealand. Animal Welfare Inspectors will respond to welfare complaints of a more serious nature to ensure animals are not left to suffer.