COVID-19 Protection Framework: Guidance for the primary sectorTe Pou Tarāwaho Ārai KOWHEORI-19
Find out about the Government’s COVID-19 Protection Framework and what it means for the primary sector.
COVID-19 Protection Framework
The COVID-19 Protection Framework (traffic light system) introduces a new flexible 3-level approach to managing COVID-19 in the community:
- Green – used when there’s limited COVID-19 in the community, hospitalisations are at a manageable level, and the health system is ready to respond.
- Orange – used when there’s increasing community transmission of COVID-19, the whole health system has focused its resources but can manage the outbreak, and there is an increasing risk to the public.
- Red – used when action is needed to protect the health system and to protect at-risk populations.
The new traffic light system is more flexible than the previous Alert Level system. It takes into account aspects like vaccination coverage, COVID-19 transmission in communities, and the capacity of the health and disability system.
Testing, contact tracing, and isolation will continue as key tools to minimise any spread of the virus.
Regional traffic light settings
All of New Zealand will move to the Red setting at 11.59pm on Sunday 23 January 2022.
Information about life at Red and other settings is available here
Seeking help if COVID-19 affects work on my farm, orchard, or vineyard
Sector organisations have been working together to ensure farmers, growers, fishers, and others are supported if a positive COVID-19 case affects their business.
A key focus has been ensuring they are prepared and have good contingency plans in place. The sector and MPI have developed a detailed checklist to help farmers and growers prepare for a positive COVID-19 case on-farm.
The checklist enables you to list contact details for key people, daily livestock feed requirements, instructions to operate machinery and essential farm tasks.
There are also checklists for lifestyle block owners and growers.
- Preparing for COVID-19 Checklist for your lifestyle block – Federated farmers of NZ
- Covid-19 Checklist for growers – Horticulture New Zealand
Rural Support Trusts are providing support to rural communities. You can reach them on 0800 787 254.
For further guidance on workplaces with cases of COVID-19, visit the Ministry of Health website.
Frequently asked questions
Frequently asked questions for primary industry businesses working under the framework
Is an essential worker category going to remain for travel in and out of Auckland?
From 15 December, people travelling out of Auckland will have to be either fully vaccinated or have a negative test within 72 hours of departure. This requirement will be in place for the core summer period of 15 December 2021 to 17 January 2022.
Can the primary sectors operate at red, orange and green?
Yes, with the appropriate measures in place such as face coverings, record keeping, and physical distancing. Personal protective equipment (PPE) should also be used where required.
Vaccination remains one of the best tools to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading.
Under the COVID-19 traffic light system, localised lockdowns will be a part of the toolkit to help manage transmission, particularly for more vulnerable communities, and in instances where additional protection is urgently required.
High vaccination rates means we’ll be less reliant on more widespread lockdowns, unless urgent action is required to protect our health system or protect New Zealanders against new variants.
Visit the Unite Against COVID-19 website for information about each of the 3 traffic light levels and their requirements.
New Zealand COVID-19 Protection Framework [PDF, 84 KB]
How can I minimise the risk of infection?
Vaccination is New Zealand’s key tool in protecting people and minimising the spread of COVID-19.
Getting vaccinated means you’re far less likely to get really sick and need to go to hospital if you catch COVID-19. Vaccinated people are also less likely to pass COVID-19 on to others.
In addition to getting vaccinated, there are other simple steps you can take to protect yourself and others, which include face coverings, record keeping, and physical distancing. Personal protective equipment (PPE) should also be used where required.
Can I hold meetings and events under the traffic light system?
Events and meetings are allowed under the traffic light system, but there are limits on attendance which depend on the use of vaccination certificates and the status of the area. These limits also apply to meetings or gatherings you hold at home.
New Zealand COVID-19 Protection Framework [PDF, 84 KB]
Can self-employed people access the COVID-19 Short-Term Absence Payment?
Yes. Existing eligibility criteria can be accessed on the Work and Income website. Self-employed people can also access the Leave Support Scheme.
Frequently asked questions about positive COVID-19 cases within the primary industries
What should I do if my workplace has a case of COVID-19?
Follow official guidance from the Public Health Unit and your Medical Officer of Health.
Further information can be found on the Ministry of Health website.
What do I need to do if my primary business is a location of interest?
Follow official guidance from the Public Health Unit and your Medical Officer of Health. Further information can be found on the Unite Against COVID-19 and Ministry of Health websites.
Am I allowed to yard cattle if I test positive for COVID-19?
Before yarding cattle, we recommend speaking to your processor and supply chain partners (such as transporters), as they will have rules and requirements around loading and transporting animals.
Individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 will be directly managed by a local public health unit.
Does a farmer need to notify a processing company and/or transport company that they have tested positive for COVID-19?
We recommend speaking to your processor and supply chain partners (such as transporters), as they will have rules and requirements around loading and transporting animals.
Can a meat works or transport company refuse to pick-up/slaughter on the grounds that a worker has tested positive for COVID-19?
We recommend speaking to your processor and supply chain partners (such as transporters), as they will have rules and requirements around loading, transporting, and processing animals.
Can a COVID-19 positive farmer infect farm animals?
There remains no evidence that pets or livestock can spread COVID-19.
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.
Frequently asked questions about vaccinations in the traffic light system
Do I need to mandate staff vaccinations?
Mandatory vaccinations are required for some workers to reduce infection and transmission.
Businesses not subject to a government mandate will soon have a new, simplified assessment tool they can follow to determine if work at their business needs to be done by vaccinated people. This will be available from the Worksafe website.
In the meantime, businesses can use Worksafe's risk assessment.
Under COVID-19 Protection Framework, will I need to seek a Vaccine Pass from customers?
The COVID-19 Protection Framework (traffic light system) allows greater freedoms for vaccinated people than unvaccinated people.
When New Zealand moves into the traffic light system, people may need to use My Vaccine Pass (the official record of a person’s COVID-19 vaccination status) to enter certain settings, like events and venues.
There are a limited number of settings where denying entry on the basis of vaccination status is prohibited, including supermarkets, dairies, pharmacies and petrol stations.
Visit the Unite Against COVID-19 website for more information.
Frequently asked questions about positive COVID-19 cases and caring for your companion animals, horses, and lifestyle blocks
Can I leave my home to exercise my dog while I am isolating at home?
You will have to treat your dog as part of your isolation bubble and your dog will have to remain on your property until you have completed the isolation period.
Can a friend, family member, or neighbour come onto my property to care for my pet(s)?
Isolation means that you cannot have contact with people during your isolation period to prevent the transmission of COVID-19. You will have to care for your own pets providing you are well enough to do so or check out other options as below.
Can a friend, family member, or neighbour come onto my property to care for my horses or lifestyle animals?
You should discuss whether you can do this with the District Health Board (DHB) or the people supervising your isolation arrangements.
If I get sick (and can’t look after my animals) or I am admitted to hospital, what happens to my animals?
You will have to arrange for someone to look after your animals.
If you have to leave the property, and there is no one remaining on the property who can look after your animals, you should seek advice from the DHB or the people supervising your isolation arrangements, if someone can come onto the property to tend to your animals.
For pets, you could arrange for someone to pick your pet up eg. family or whanāu member, or a friend.
A further option is that your pet may be able to go to a boarding kennel or cattery. Remember your pets will need to be up to date with their vaccinations and any other requirements to go into a boarding kennel or cattery, otherwise they will not be allowed access. If your pets are not vaccinated or vaccinations are not up to date, you will need to make arrangements with a family or whanāu member, or a friend to take your pet.
See section on contactless handover below.
What are the risks of transfer of COVID-19 if I pass my animal over to someone else to care for?
There is no evidence that animals in New Zealand have been involved in the transmission of COVID-19 to humans. See information below on contactless handover.
Can I have contact with my pets during my isolation period?
There is no evidence that pets can spread COVID-19. As a precaution, if you are sick you should avoid close contact with them, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked and sharing food. You should include your pet in your isolation bubble so that just like you, it has no contact with anyone while you are undergoing isolation.
You should continue to take appropriate hygiene precautions such as washing your hands after contact with your pet.
My pet needs a veterinary visit – what should I do?
You should only arrange for a veterinary visit for your pet if it is urgent. Non-urgent appointments should be deferred until you have completed your isolation period. Contact your veterinarian to assess your situation and make an appointment as you normally would.
If you are in home or community isolation you will not be able to leave your house or community isolation facility. You will, therefore, need to arrange for someone to pick up your pet to take to the veterinarian. This needs to be a contactless handover (see information below on contactless handover).
You will need to advise the veterinarian that you are currently in home or community isolation and they will advise what steps you will need to take to safely transfer your pet to the veterinary clinic.
Can a veterinarian come onto my property to look at my horse or lifestyle animals?
Yes, it is possible. You will need to talk to the DHB or the people supervising your isolation arrangements and you will also need to advise your veterinarian about your situation.
Veterinary visits must only be for urgent situations. Contact your veterinarian to assess your situation and make an appointment as you normally would.
Can I tend to my animals if they are on another property (including exercising my horse)?
You have to stay isolated in your home or in the community isolation facility.
You will need to arrange for someone else to tend to your animals while you are in isolation.
If your horse is on the same property where you are undergoing home isolation, you can exercise your horse on that property but not come into contact with other people (eg. on the perimeter of your property). If your horse is kept elsewhere you will have to arrange for someone to look after your horse.
How do I buy feed for my animals?
You cannot leave your home or community isolation and will have to organise the purchase of animal food either online or over the telephone so it can be delivered to your property without any contact between you and the deliverer.
Contactless handover of pets
Pick up of your pet will need to be contactless with appropriate physical distancing and hygiene measures. The handover should be managed outdoors if possible, and in a designated area with minimal foot traffic.
If your pet is small enough to be safely secured in a cage or cardboard container, the cage or box may be dropped off in the designated area preferably in a place outside of your dwelling so that it can be picked up without contact. The person picking up the pet may retrieve the cage/box with the animal in it while following physical distancing guidelines.
Cardboard boxes should be destroyed after use. Cages should be cleaned after use with normal household bleach and left in the sun. Wear plastic gloves.
If your pet is larger and can be secured safely by a lead and collar, you should consider having it secured in the designated area for example, in front of your property, for a contactless handover.
What precautions do I need to take if I’m going to receive or be in contact with an animal from a COVID-19 positive household?
Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect against COVID-19. You should also wash hands (before and after handover), wear a mask, and maintain physical distancing of at least 2 metres.
Contact with exposed surfaces is not considered a significant risk for COVID-19 transfer. Therefore, we do not recommend any decontamination of the animal’s coat or fur. There is no need for animals to be quarantined.