Advice for orchards and horticultural industries in Level 4
In Alert Level 4, horticulture is classed as an essential service, and therefore certain steps should be made to protect workers on orchards and in pack houses.
Help available for horticulture industries
The Government has launched a wage subsidy and leave payment scheme to help employers.
You should also talk to your industry group, such as Horticulture New Zealand, Kiwifruit vine health and New Zealand Apples and Pears.
If someone is sick with COVID-19 on an orchard or pack house
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.
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 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.
Visit the COVID-19 website for up to date government information and guidance, including for businesses and organisations.
Impact of border measures on seasonal workers
The picking seasons for New Zealand apples, kiwifruit and grapes is at its peak in March/April, so demand for seasonal staff is currently at its highest.
The current border measures restrict almost all foreign travellers from entering New Zealand. Travellers already here with a temporary visa due to expire between 1 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.
Employer and worker obligations
Recognised seasonal employer (RSE) workers may be required 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 for them.