Doing business at Alert Level 3

Develop a COVID-19 plan so your business operates safely.

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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.

Businesses must 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.

You must comply with the following rules at Alert Level 3.

  • Your business cannot operate if it requires close physical contact. There are exceptions for some essential services, or in an emergency or critical situation.
  • Your staff should work from home if they can.
  • Customers cannot come onto your premises unless you are a supermarket, dairy, petrol station, pharmacy or permitted health service.
  • Your business must be contactless. Your customers can pay online, over the phone or in a contactless way. Delivery or pick-up must also be contactless. 
  • You must maintain hygiene measures, including physical distancing, hand washing and regularly cleaning surfaces.
  • If you allow customers to bring their own containers, make sure you follow food safety requirements to protect your employees and customers.
  • Your workers must stay home if they are sick.
  • For retailers, manufacturers, and the service industries, if you did not use personal protective equipment (PPE) before COVID-19, you don’t need it now.
  • For essential healthcare workers, border agencies, courts and tribunal staff, first responders, and corrections staff, different PPE guidance applies.
    Ministry of Health guidance on PPE (external link)
  • You must meet all other health and safety obligations.

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

Businesses providing necessities

Businesses providing necessities, such as supermarkets, pharmacies, dairies and petrol stations that were deemed essential under Alert Level 4 can continue to operate under Alert Level 3 as they have been.

Any business providing necessities must 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 cannot be consumed by customers onsite.

Retail and hospitality

Retail stores and hospitality businesses such as bars and cafes may operate, but customers cannot 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.

Customers can’t 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, they must manage food safety risks and adhere 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.

Guidance for the building and construction sector (external link)


All goods can be delivered, including food. The delivery must 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, house cleaning is not allowed.

If you are going into people’s homes or workplaces to do work, you can give them this information sheet:

Staying safe and well when having work done at home or work [PDF, 28 KB]

Safe business declaration sheet

You can use and display the Safe business declaration sheet in your workplace.

Safe business declaration sheet [PDF, 1.5 MB]

Resources and sector-specific guidance

Government agencies will not determine if individual businesses can operate, nor will they keep a register of businesses that meet the guidelines.

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

Your COVID-19 safety plan – what you need to think about (external link) has practical advice on different alert level restrictions and answers to common questions.

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

COVID-19 Business Toolkit

Our Business Toolkit has resources, like posters and templates, to help your business operate 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 3 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.

Developing a COVID-19 safety plan

If you are a business owner or workplace manager, you need to have a COVID-19 safety plan to manage how you and your staff are going to work safely and healthily in a COVID-19 environment. You need to work closely with staff in developing your plan and it must be shared with all staff. Templates and guidance are available on the WorkSafe website.

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

If you have questions about the guidance, call your industry body, or WorkSafe.

Travel at Alert Level 3

There are still restrictions on travel under Alert 3. If you need to travel for work, the Ministry of Transport has guidance covering what you need to consider when travelling.

Transport and travel by alert level (external link)

If you are travelling with colleagues, such as in a car together, WorkSafe has guidance on how to do this safely.

Travelling in vehicles for work (external link)

Ensuring businesses are doing the right thing

We need all New Zealanders to work together to make Alert Level 3 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 3 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)

Contact tracing at your workplace

How contact tracing helps

To stop the spread of COVID-19, it’s important to keep track of people’s movements. Contact tracing helps us do that.

With contact tracing, a business records details of all personal movement at their workplaces. This is saved in case we need to contact people who have been exposed to COVID-19.  

Why you should have a contact tracing register

Businesses operating at Alert Level 3 must record everyone who visits their workplace and save their contact information.

That means you must have a contact tracing register. All people on-site – employees and visitors – must sign your register. Make sure it is done every day, including weekends and after hours.

The Ministry of Health or District Health Boards may contact a business if a person is diagnosed with COVID-19 and the business is a potential contact. They will ask for your register for the time that person visited. 

Contact tracing information will not be used for any other purpose.

Information you need to collect

Your contact tracing register or record-keeping system must collect employees or visitors':

  • Full name
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Residential address
  • Date of entering the business
  • Time in and out
  • Signature

Meeting contact tracing requirements

Make sure you meet contact tracing requirements: 

  • Create your own or download a register form:
    Contact tracing register [PDF, 1.6 MB]
  • Make sure your register is hygienic. Assign an employee to complete the register for your team or visitors, so only one person is touching the pen and paper. Or sanitise the pen after every use and ask users to sanitise hands before and after writing their details.
  • Keep your contact tracing register in a secure place for 2 months. Once all records on a page are 2 months old, they must be destroyed.
  • Only share your register with the Ministry of Health or District Health Boards. 

More information about contact tracing

Information about how the Ministry of Health and district health boards trace contacts of identified cases:

Contact tracing for COVID-19

Safe business declaration sheet

You can use and display the Safe business declaration sheet in your workplace.

Safe business declaration sheet [PDF, 1.5 MB]

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