Doing business at Alert Level 3

How to operate safely and what you need to do at Alert Level 3.

Golden Rules for business at Alert Level 3

  • If your business requires close physical contact it can’t operate.
  • We recommend staff work from home if they can.
  • Businesses need to display a QR code and have an alternative contact tracing system. We recommend you make sure that people either scan in or provide their contact details. 
  • Customers cannot come onto your premises — unless you’re a supermarket, dairy, petrol station, pharmacy or permitted health service.
  • Your business legally must be contactless. Your customers can pay online, over the phone or in a contactless way. Delivery or pick-up legally must also be contactless.
  • Basic hygiene measures legally must be maintained. Physical distancing, hand washing and regularly cleaning surfaces. Workers legally must stay home if they’re sick.
  • Staff legally must remain a minimum of 1 metre apart at all times where practical. We recommend other measures, such as PPE including face coverings, be used where appropriate.
  • Different advice applies to essential healthcare workers, border agencies, courts and tribunal staff, first responders and corrections staff. You can get further advice  from the Ministry of Health (external link).
  • You legally must meet all other health and safety obligations.

How to do business safely

Under Alert Level 3, there are restrictions to keep workers safe, limit interaction with customers and help prevent the spread of COVID-19. We recommend staff work from home if they can.

We recommend businesses self-assess their ability to meet these restrictions and operate safely, just as they would normally to meet their duties under the Health and Safety at Work Act. Government agencies will not make these decisions for businesses.

More information on operating a business at Alert Level 3 (external link)

Be contactless

We recommend your business be contactless. Customers can pay online, over the phone or in a contactless way. We recommend delivery or pick-up should also be contactless. We recommend customers should not come onto your premises unless you’re a supermarket, dairy, petrol station, or pharmacy or permitted health service.

We recommend your business should not operate if it requires close physical contact. There are exceptions for some essential services, or in an emergency or critical situation.

For retailers, manufacturers and the service industries, if you did not use personal protective equipment (PPE) before COVID-19, you do not need it now.

Businesses providing necessities

Businesses providing necessities, such as supermarkets, pharmacies, dairies and petrol stations can operate under Alert Level 3.

Any business providing necessities should minimise, or eliminate if possible, physical interactions among staff and with and between customers ensure appropriate health, hygiene and safety measures are in place.

For example, dairies and petrol stations can remain open at all Alert Levels, if they can operate safely. At Alert Level 3, prepared food and drink can be bought and sold, but we recommend not allowing customers consuming these onsite.

Independent butchers, bakeries and greengrocers can operate if they deliver or offer pre-arranged collection of goods bought online or by phone. Consumers cannot physically browse for goods.

Retail and hospitality

Retail stores and hospitality businesses such as bars and cafes may operate, but we recommend customers not enter the premises. Delivery, or drive-through or contactless pick up by customers is allowed.

Customers can pay in cash if there is no alternative, but try to handle the cash using self-checkout kiosks or cleaning hands well after handling.

We recommend customers not consume food or drink on your premises.

Each business can decide if they will allow customers to use reusable cups and containers. If they allow it, we recommend managing food safety risks and adhering to food safety requirements. This applies to all reusable containers, including:

  • personal keep cups
  • in-house reusable coffee cup schemes used by coffee shops.

Building and construction

During Alert Level 3, most work can be carried out in the building and construction sector.


All goods can be delivered, including food. We recommend the delivery be contactless. Alcohol can be delivered if the business has an off-licence.

In-home services

You can provide certain services in home, provided physical distancing and other public health guidance is observed. However, we recommend not having house cleaning.

Contact tracing at your workplace

To stop any future spread of COVID-19, we need to trace the contacts of anyone who may have been exposed to COVID-19 and break the chain of transmission. Contact tracing helps us do that. 

To enable contact tracing all businesses, workplaces and public transport operators legally must display an NZ COVID Tracer QR code for each location and provide alternate contact tracing systems. 

Get more information about what your business needs to do

Get your QR poster

Further information and resources for businesses has practical advice on different Alert Level restrictions and answers to common questions.

Workplace operations at COVID-19 Alert Levels (external link)

WorkSafe also has guidance to help you ensure your business can operate safely, including sector-specific guidance.

Your COVID-19 safety plan — what you need to think about (external link)

The Public Service Commission has detailed guidelines for State services.

State services guidelines during COVID-19 (external link)

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