Primary sector businesses in Alert Level 3

Information for Level 3 restrictions in response to COVID-19.


To operate in Alert 3, you need to:

  • follow the region-specific travel advice for Alert Level 3
  • make sure you can operate safely before workers return to work and you open for trade
  • maintain safe practices on physical distancing, hygiene and cleaning, and moving goods and livestock.

Safe work practices for business and workers in Alert Level 3

Businesses that can operate in Alert Level 3 include:

  • primary produce retailers (for example, greengrocers, fish mongers, and butchers). These retailers can have customers on premises. Retail is also possible through delivery and non-contact collection of goods and prepared food at the door (including the doors of businesses located inside malls). No consumption of food or drink is allowed by customers on premises.
  • forestry including harvesting, wood processing, and forestry sales and exports (an exemption is required)
  • floriculture including bulb and seed growing, harvesting, processing, and sales and exports (an exemption is required)
  • wool and fibre industries including handling, shearing, scouring, and sales and exports
  • farm gate and cellar door sales – for delivery or contactless pick up only.

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

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.

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.

Business travel across Alert Level boundaries – MBIE 

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.

For New Zealand food service and retail businesses, operating under the Food Act 2014, there is guidance to help keep their customers and staff safe during COVID-19 Alert Level 3.

COVID-19 Alert Level 3 Safe Practice Guidance for Food Service and Retail Businesses [PDF, 798 KB]

Additional guidance for primary industry businesses is also available.

Operating safely – WorkSafe

MPI generic guidance on COVID-19 safety measures for primary industry and food businesses at Alert Level 3 [PDF, 239 KB]

MPI guidance on COVID-19 safety measures for New Zealand red meat, poultry meat and seafood processors at Alert Level 3 [PDF, 239 KB]

Primary sector support services

Businesses providing support services to the primary sector can operate at Alert Level 3 if they can operate safely.

More information about permitted activities and travel across Alert Level boundaries can be found on the MBIE website.

Business travel across Alert Level boundaries – MBIE 

Examples of these types of support services and activities include:

  • Farriers
  • Cattle yard installers
  • Suppliers of sphagnum moss for use in water treatment
  • Pest management operators (including vector control)
  • Fencers
  • Farm advisors
  • Research and science services
  • Biosecurity readiness, response, recovery and pest management activities
  • Wholesalers
  • Firewood suppliers
  • Timber manufacturers and suppliers
  • Farm property sales agents
  • Relocation to new farm properties
  • Construction of farm sheds, barns and herd homes
  • Routine plant, farm and gear maintenance
  • Manufacture, distribution and application of agricultural input products
  • Production and installation of frost protection fans
  • Livestock and wool sales and auctions – these must be held online where possible
  • Agricultural supply stores – for delivery or contactless pick up only
  • Pet stores – for delivery or contactless pick up only.
  • Businesses which provide supplies or support to the commercial fishing and aquaculture sectors.

Stock sales and wool auctions are permitted, but the public must not attend. They should be run online where possible.

Travel advice

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

Alert Level details  [PDF 274KB]

Regional travel – COVID-19

Further help and advice for business

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 to their key sector groups (such as DairyNZ, Beef and Lamb NZ, Horticulture New Zealand, New Zealand Forest Owners Association, Forestry Industry Safety Council, Seafood New Zealand), their co-op, and Federated Farmers regarding aspects such as business continuity, animal welfare and labour needs.

Last reviewed: