Doing business at Alert Level 2

Information for businesses on how to operate safely at Alert Level 2.

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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.

Doing business safely

Engaging with customers

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


Retail businesses, including markets, malls and takeaway stores:

  • 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.

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


For dine-in customers, restaurants, cafes and bars must:

  • keep customers seated
  • keep groups separated by at least 1 metre
  • have a single server per group — this means each group has one server, though servers can each serve more than one table
  • keep records of all customers and workers to allow contact tracing.

Customers can visit a counter to order and collect food and drink in a café or fast food restaurant, but not in on-licence and club licence premises. For example, cafés that can’t serve alcohol can provide counter service but a bar or licensed restaurant can’t.

Once a person orders or collects food, they must return to their seat if they are dining in.

Businesses can also operate with defined, separated areas. The 100 person maximum applies per area, as long as intermingling in common spaces, such as entrances, exits and toilets, can be prevented. Indoor areas must be separated by permanent or temporary walls.  Outdoor areas must be separated by physical distancing or barriers.

Hospitality venues can operate two or more businesses on the same premises, provided customers don’t move back and forth between spaces. For example, a customer can order and eat food in the restaurant and then go to the gaming room afterwards. Each space must have contact tracing.

Hospitality venues can hire their premises or a defined space out exclusively for a social gathering such as a wedding, birthday party, or post-funeral drinks, and the social gatherings rules will apply instead of hospitality business rules.

More information on gatherings and events

Services involving close personal contact

Some businesses will need close personal contact with customers to deliver a service.

This includes:

  • hairdressers
  • beauticians
  • home help providers.

These businesses can open if they: 

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

Hairdressers, and other similar workers, don't need to wear personal protective equipment, like masks. We expect, however, that many workers and customers may want hairdressers, and other similar workers, to wear masks when we first move to Alert Level 2.

Temporary accommodation for front-line health workers

Front-line health workers are eligible for funded temporary accommodation if they:

  • have close contact with patients, and
  • either:
    • have been asked to relocate to a different part of the country as part of the COVID-19 response, or
    • live with a person who is at higher risk of severe illness should they contract COVID-19.

Full details, including how to apply, are available from the Ministry of Health.

Funded temporary accommodation for front-line workers (external link)

Resources and guidance has practical advice on different alert level restrictions and answers to common questions.

Workplace operations at COVID-19 alert levels (external link)

WorkSafe 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)

COVID-19 Business Toolkit

Our Business Toolkit has resources, like posters and templates, to help your business work safely.

Business Toolkit

Helpline for business support

A free helpline service has been launched for all New Zealand businesses. It can offer you:

  • specific advice and access to Government business support
  • advice on what Alert Level 2 means for your business
  • general business advice and access to online resources and webinars
  • connections to business advisory services.

To find out more call 0800 500 362 for North Island, or 0800 50 50 96 for South Island.

If your question cannot be answered immediately you will be supported through the process to get assistance from the Regional Business Partner network.

Contact tracing at your place of business

All businesses, except retail, are required to record details of all people’s movement on their premises.

Information for businesses on how to put contact tracing in place

Ensuring businesses are doing the right thing

We need all New Zealanders to work together to make Alert Level 2 a success.

Health and safety

As the regulator, WorkSafe will carry out spot checks to make sure businesses and workers are operating safely under the Alert Level 2 guidance.

If you have concerns about a business, report it to the COVID-19 Compliance Centre.

Make a report to the COVID-19 Compliance Centre

Employment guidance

Employment guidance is available for COVID-19-related matters, including pay and leave entitlements, the minimum wage, and modifying and terminating employment agreements.

Guidance for employers and employees (external link)

Setting prices

While businesses are free to set their own prices, the Fair Trading Act prohibits misleading and deceptive conduct and false representations. This means that if a business gives a reason for a price increase it must be true, otherwise the business risks breaching the law.

Many sectors are facing a very difficult time, however, MBIE would like to remind businesses about their obligations under the Fair Trading Act and encourage them to extend their kindness to their customers by:

  • being upfront and transparent about their prices and any increases; and
  • working flexibly with consumers and their needs.

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