Advice for orchards and horticultural industries in Level 3

Advice for working in Level 3, and protecting workers on orchards and in pack houses.  

All businesses involved in horticulture can operate during Alert Level 3, provided they can do so safely.  This includes businesses providing support services to the primary industries, and production of agricultural inputs and non-essential goods.

Businesses wanting to operate in Alert Level 3 will have to operate safely to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Businesses that cannot meet safe practice during Alert Level 3 must remain closed. 

Safety assurances

Under Alert Level 3 all businesses that are permitted to resume operations need to have a COVID-19 safety plan that sets out how they’ll operate safely.

More guidance on these safety assurances can be found on the Primary sector businesses page.

Primary sector businesses in Alert Level 3

At Alert Level 3, businesses must keep records to help with contact tracing, if it is needed. You must have a record of everyone working at, or visiting, each location – employees, customers and clients, tradespeople, contractors, and couriers.

Travelling for work

At Alert Level 3, everyone can travel for work within their region. Travel to a neighbouring region is permitted if you live close to a regional boundary. You should only travel if it is necessary. Essential workers can travel outside of their regions, where it is necessary to do so.

At Alert Level 2, you can travel for work anywhere in New Zealand, but should only do so if necessary.


Flower growing and distribution can be undertaken during Alert Level 3, including bulb and seed growing, harvesting, processing and sales and exports.

Sales direct to consumers

Produce and goods can be sold only if it is by contactless delivery or pick up from the farm gate, cellar door or plant nursery.

During Alert Level 3, consumers cannot browse products in-store (except for supermarkets, dairies and petrol stations). This means that retail outlets, cellar doors, showrooms, and plant nurseries must be closed, and farmers’ markets cannot be held.

No on-site dining is allowed during Alert Level 3.

Impact of border measures on seasonal workers

It is currently picking seasons for produce including apples, kiwifruit and grapes, so demand for seasonal staff is high.

New Zealand’s current border measures restrict entry of almost all overseas travellers.  Travellers who were in New Zealand on 2 April 2020 with a temporary visa due to expire between 2 April and 9 July 2020 will have their visas automatically extended to 25 September 2020.

Confirmation of extensions will be emailed to all visa holders.

Industry organisations will also have information about their business continuity measures in place.

Find out which visas are being processed during COVID-19

Health's COVID-19 epidemic notice

Employer and worker obligations

Recognised seasonal employer (RSE) workers may need to move to where labour is needed to support continued food production. Any movement of RSE workers will be carefully managed by their employer. Their employer is fully responsible for the arrangement and safety of their workers while in transit.

If a RSE worker currently in New Zealand is required to isolate themselves for 14 days during their time here, their employer must make appropriate accommodation and pastoral care facilities available.

RSE COVID-19 information

If an orchard or pack house worker is sick with COVID-19

Like other businesses, horticulture industries should 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.

Advice on staying at home - COVID-19

Exporting fruit from a packhouse that has had a confirmed case of COVID-19

There are currently no export eligibility issues associated with exporting fruit/vegetables if a worker gets COVID-19.

Coronaviruses are unlikely to grow in food – they need a host (animal or human) to grow in and there is no evidence of COVID-19 spreading via food. The virus is commonly transmitted through direct mucous membrane contact by infectious droplets, e.g. through hand to mouth/nose contact after fingers have touched a contaminated surface.

COVID-19 advice for businesses at Level 3

COVID-19 and food safety at Level 3

Visit the COVID-19 website for up to date government information and guidance, including for businesses and organisations.


Help available for horticulture industries

The Government has launched a wage subsidy and leave payment scheme to help employers.

Wage subsidy and leave payment - Covid19

You can also talk to your industry group, such as Horticulture New Zealand, New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers and New Zealand Apples and Pears.

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