Alert Level 2

Information on life and business at Alert Level 2.

We are at Alert Level 2

New Zealand moved to Alert Level 2 at 11:59pm on Wednesday 13 May.

The Government has announced an increase to gathering numbers from 12 noon Friday 29 May.

Upcoming changes to gathering numbers

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Play it safe

You have more freedom of movement at Alert Level 2, but it’s up to each one of us to keep the rest of New Zealand safe.

These are the most important things that you can remember and do:

  • COVID-19 is still out there. Play it safe.
  • Keep your distance from other people in public.
  • If you’re sick, stay home. Don’t go to work or school. Don’t socialise.
  • If you have symptoms of cold or flu call your doctor or Healthline and get advice about being tested.
  • Wash your hands. Wash your hands. Wash your hands.
  • Sneeze and cough into your elbow, regularly disinfect surfaces.
  • If you have been told to self-isolate you must do so immediately.
  • Keep a track of where you’ve been and who you’ve seen.

Life at Alert Level 2

Life at Alert Level 2 means you can resume many of your everyday activities — but you have to do so safely.

  • All businesses can open to customers if they can do it safely. This will help to get people back to work.
  • You can go in-store at businesses.
  • Tertiary education facilities, schools and Early Learning Centres will be open for all ages.
  • You can travel between regions.
  • Initially, gatherings like weddings, religious ceremonies and social gatherings can have up to 10 people.
  • You can safely connect and socialise with close friends and family, in groups of 10.
  • You can visit local cafes, restaurants, bars and pubs to have a meal.
  • You can return to your regular recreation activities, at first keeping to 10 people.

Controls at Alert Level 2

Alert Level 2 is not life as normal, some restrictions and other measures remain in place to reduce the risk of transmission.

  • We need to maintain physical distancing.
  • We'll keep tight controls in place at our borders.
  • Our wide-scale testing will continue.
  • We'll find and self-isolate anyone who is unwell as well as their close contacts.
  • There will be measures in place to allow some safe travel and socialising.
  • Only small, controlled gatherings will be permitted.
  • Early childhood centres, schools and tertiary organisations will see most people returning — with controls in place.
  • Physical distancing, hygiene standards and contact registers (where required) will make businesses safe.

Personal movement

At Alert Level 2, you can leave home to do more things, but you should follow public health measures and consider others around you.

Physical distancing

Keep your distance when out and about:

  • 2 metres in public and in retail stores, like supermarkets and clothes shops.
  • 1 metre in most other environments like workplaces, cafes, restaurants, and gyms.

There will be a few times at Alert Level 2 where it won’t be possible to maintain physical distance, so there will be other measures to manage public health risks.

Gatherings, events, and public venues

The Government has announced an increase to gathering numbers from 12 noon Friday 29 May.

Upcoming changes to gathering numbers

Gathering at your home

You can have friends and family over to your home, but gatherings are limited to up to 10 people. This includes the people who usually live in your house. If more than 10 people normally live in your house, then no more can join.

Play it safe — keep surfaces clean, wash your hands, and keep the numbers low so you can maintain safe physical distancing.

Gathering outside your home

You can attend gatherings in controlled settings outside of your home. Gatherings include:

  • weddings
  • family events
  • religious services
  • private functions, like a birthday.

Gatherings must:

  • have no more than 10 people
  • keep high hygiene standards
  • record attendees to ensure contact tracing can be conducted if necessary.

You shouldn’t participate in any gatherings if you have COVID-19 symptoms or if you need to be in isolation for any reason.

Funerals and tangihanga

Up to 50 people can attend funerals and tangihanga at Alert Level 2.

Funeral directors can register with the Ministry of Health to allow up to 50 people to attend a funeral or tangihanga. The Ministry of Health must be satisfied that a range of public health measures can consistently be met, such as physical distancing and hand hygiene.

Food and drink is permitted after the service provided the venue can meet the physical distancing and hygiene requirements for food preparation and serving. This includes groups of no more than 10 people eating together, food served as individual portions and not from a buffet, and no alcohol may be served or consumed on the premises.

Ministry of Health guidance on deaths, funerals and tangihanga (external link)

Public venues

Many public venues will be open again at Alert Level 2. This includes:

  • museums and libraries
  • cinemas
  • markets
  • restaurants, cafes and bars (only for dining at first).

All public venues must keep records to enable contact tracing and manage their numbers to ensure that:

  • every individual or group of 10 is kept 1 metre apart
  • no group has more than 10 people.

Exercise, sport and recreation

You can do your usual exercise and recreation activities, provided you can do them safely.

This includes activities that were restricted previously, including:

  • walking, biking and hunting on public conservation land
  • swimming at a public swimming pool, but there will be restrictions
  • going to the gym, but there will be restrictions
  • boating and motorised watersports
  • hunting during duck shooting season — starting Saturday 23 May

Initially, community sports will be limited to groups of 10.

Government is working with community sports organisations to work through how community sport can be restarted safely.

Sporting events

Professional leagues can go ahead at Alert Level 2 because they take place in controlled workplaces. The details for these events will be developed with Sport New Zealand and WorkSafe. Initially, they will happen without crowds but they can be broadcast.

High Performance Sport New Zealand activities can take place at Alert Level 2 using a controlled workplace approach in consultation with WorkSafe.

Workplaces and businesses

At Alert Level 2 businesses can operate if they’re able to do so safely.

Golden rules for business at Alert Level 2

Do everything you can to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission at work — we all have a part to play in keeping each other safe. 

  1. COVID-19 is still out there. Play it safe.
  2. All businesses can operate if they can do so safely. Alternative ways of working are still encouraged where possible.
  3. Talk with your workers to identify risks and ways to manage them.
  4. Ask everyone, workers, contractors and customers, with cold or flu-like symptoms to stay away from your premises.
  5. Keep groups of customers at least 1 metre apart, or 2 metres for retail businesses.
  6. Keep contact tracing records of anyone who will have close interaction for example workers, contractors or customers. Retail businesses are not required to keep contact tracing records.
  7. Reduce the number of shared surfaces, and regularly disinfect them.
  8. Wash your hands. Wash your hands. Wash your hands.

Engaging with customers

At Alert Level 2 businesses can have customers on their premises.


Retail businesses:

  • need to keep customers 2 metres apart
  • do not need to keep records of customers to enable contact tracing. 

There is no maximum number of customers allowed in a store, as long as they can keep 2 metres apart at all times.

Services can also be provided on customers’ premises, for example, cleaning and home help.


Restaurants, cafes and bars must:

  • have customers seated
  • keep groups of attendees separated 1 metre apart
  • have a single server per group
  • keep records of all customers and workers to enable contact tracing 
  • not have more than 100 people in total — this excludes staff.

Venues will stay shut if they can’t open safely.

Work involving close personal contact

For some businesses, close personal contact is required to deliver a service. This includes:

  • hairdressers
  • home help providers.

These businesses can operate if they have public health measures in place like:

  • keeping contact tracing registers 
  • keeping customers 1 metre apart, including while they’re waiting 
  • good hygiene practices
  • disinfecting surfaces in between customers.

Hairdressers, and similar workers, are not required to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks. We expect, however, that many workers and customers may want workers to wear masks.

Doing business safely

The key public health requirements stay the same at Alert Level 2. Businesses should maintain hygiene measures, including physical distancing, hand washing and regularly cleaning surfaces.

All businesses are encouraged to use alternative ways of working if possible.

If workers have symptoms of COVID-19, they should stay home.

Self-isolation advice if you’re unwell

Travel and transport

You can travel, but make sure you do it in a safe way.

You can travel around the country, if you follow good personal health measures. You will need to keep records of what travel services you use and keep track of who you have been in contact with. You should keep your distance from groups of people you don’t know. You should minimise the number of places you stop on the way to your destination.

You must not travel to events which do not meet the requirements for gatherings at Alert Level 2.

There will be significantly more people driving on our roads and public transport will have reduced capacity as people try to maintain a safe distance during Alert Level 2. So, it’s important to plan your travel, expect delays and allow extra time.

Tips for minimising risk while travelling:

  • If you can, try to avoid travelling on the roads and on public transport at peak times, or consider alternative ways of travelling, like cycling or walking.
  • While waiting for public transport avoid standing close to strangers, and avoid sitting next to someone you don’t know when on board. Follow the instructions from your transport operators.
  • Maintain good hygiene – wash your hands often, sneeze or cough into your elbow.
  • Keep track of your journey, including where and when you boarded and where you’re sitting.
  • If you can, try to take public transport at off-peak times.
  • Avoid sitting or standing next to someone you don’t know.
  • If you’re flying or taking other forms of transport that involve bookings, follow the physical distancing instructions from your transport operators.
  • You must not travel if you are displaying symptoms of COVID-19, awaiting a test, or if you need to self-isolate.


Early learning services, schools and tertiary education facilities are open to all ages.  It is safe to attend all forms of education. Additional public health measures are in place. It is important that all learners can continue their education.

On the advice of public health officials, any educational facilities connected to a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19 must close on an individual or group basis to allow contact tracing, and then potentially for a further 14 days.

Early learning services and schools

All Early Learning Centres and schools will be physically open, including Years 11 to 13. Distance learning will be available for those unable to attend school, for example where people are self-isolating.

Early learning services and schools are safe environments for children, young people and staff. Additional public health control measures are in place to prevent the spread of disease and to support contact tracing.

Alert Level 2 FAQs for schools and Early Learning Centres (external link)

Tertiary education

Tertiary education facilities are open.

Tertiary education is a safe environment for students and staff to return to at Alert Level 2. Tertiary education facilities will implement public health requirements and physical distancing as appropriate for the context, and will work closely to ensure a safe environment where students can continue their learning.  They will need to maintain distance learning capability to help manage within these constraints, and ensure safety of staff and students at risk of COVID-19.

Workplace-based learning will be conducted within the specific rules applicable to the relevant industry.

At-risk people

There is guidance for people at higher risk of COVID-19. It includes advice under the different Alert Levels, who is at higher risk, and how they can protect themselves.

Information for at-risk people

Self-isolation, quarantine and testing

At Alert Level 2, people who are a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19, or who are a close contact of a case, will have to self-isolate for 14 days, or until cleared by a doctor.

People arriving from overseas will continue to be placed in managed-isolation for 14 days, or quarantine if they are showing symptoms.

Anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 should get tested — contact your doctor or Healthline on 0800 358 5453.

Detailed table of New Zealand COVID-19 Alert Levels

New Zealand’s 4-level Alert System specifies measures we must take against COVID-19 at each level. Find out what each Alert Level means for you:

The COVID-19 Public Health Response (Alert Level 2) Order 2020 is issued by the Minister of Health, and sets out the obligations for businesses, services and gatherings at Alert Level 2.

COVID-19 Public Health Response (Alert Level 2) Order 2020 (external link)

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