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Covid-19 - Alert Level 3

April 22, 2020

What does that mean for you?

After 4 (and a bit) weeks at Alert Level 4, New Zealand moves to Alert Level 3 from midnight on Monday 27th April 2020.

The Golden Rules for life at Alert Level 3

  • Stay home. If you are not at work, school, exercising or getting essentials then you must be at home, the same as at Alert Level 4.
  • Work and learn from home if you can. We still want the vast majority of people working from home, and children and young people learning from home. At-risk students and staff should also stay at home, and they will be supported to do so. Early learning centres and schools will physically be open for up to Year 10 for families that need them.
  • Make your business COVID-19 safe. COVID-19 has spread in workplaces, so the quid pro quo of being able to open is doing it in a way that doesn’t spread the virus.
  • Stay regional. You can exercise at parks or beaches within your region, but the closer to home the better. Activities must be safe – keep 2 metres away from anybody not in your bubble. Make minimal trips.
  • Keep your bubble as small as possible. If you need to, you can expand your bubble a small amount to bring in close family, isolated people or caregivers.
  • Wash your hands often with soap. Then dry them. Cough and sneeze into your elbow.
  • If you are sick, stay at home and quickly seek advice from your GP or Healthline about getting a test. There is no stigma to COVID-19. We will only be successful if everyone is willing to play their part in finding it wherever it is.

The Golden Rules for businesses at Alert Level 3

  • If your business requires close physical contact it can’t operate.
  • 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.
  • Basic hygiene measures must be maintained. Physical distancing, hand washing and regularly cleaning surfaces. Workers must stay home if they are sick.
  • If you used PPE in your business before COVID-19, then keep using it in the same way. If you didn’t use PPE in your business before COVID-19, you don’t need it now. This is advice for retailers, manufacturers and the service industries. Different advice applies to essential healthcare workers, border agencies, courts and tribunal staff, first responders and corrections staff.
  • You must meet all other health and safety obligations.

What does this mean for business starting back to work at Alert Level 3

  • Workplaces must operate safely – keeping one metre between workers, recording who is working together, limiting interaction between groups of workers, disinfecting surfaces, and maintaining high hygiene standards
  • Retail and hospitality businesses can only open for delivery and contactless pre-ordered pick up – customers cannot enter stores
  • Supermarkets, dairies and petrol stations can continue to allow customers into their stores, with the same restrictions and measures in place as Alert Level 4
  • Businesses cannot offer services which involve face-to-face contact or sustained close contact (e.g. hairdressing, massage, house cleaning, or door-to-door salespeople)
  • Other in home services can be delivered if it is safe to do so (like tradespeople for repairs or installations) – keep two metre separation from those in the house

Covid-19.govt.nz – Alert Level 3 Information

Business Safety Plan

What you need to think about

The key controls that have been decided as necessary to minimise the risk of passing on the COVID-19 virus at work are:

  • supporting people with flu-like symptoms to self-isolate
  • ensuring separation distances
  • disinfecting surfaces
  • maintaining good hygiene, particularly hand hygiene and good cough/sneeze etiquette
  • keeping records to facilitate contact tracing.

Before work begins again you need to develop a plan for working safely. You also need to discuss and share the plan with everyone at work – including workers, contractors, and suppliers – before the work starts. You should review and update your plan regularly.

What does the plan need to include?

Worksafe.govt.nz have produced a Covid-19 safety plan template to help you with your planning (please note it’s not compulsory to use this template).The plan is for you, your workers, and other people who need to know about it.You don’t need to send you plan to WorkSafe for review or comment.

Worksafe are not prescribing exactly how you set out your plan, but there is information that must be included.

  • Are there any risks arising from restarting your business or a business activity that has been shut down during alert level 4, and how will you manage these?
  • How will you ensure all workers know how and are able to keep themselves safe from exposure to COVID-19?
  • How will you gather information on the wellness of your workers to ensure that they are safe and well to work?
  • How will you operate your business in a way that keeps workers and others safe from exposure to COVID-19?
  • How will you manage an exposure or suspected exposure to COVID-19?
  • How will you evaluate, and continuously review, whether your work processes or risk controls are effective?
  • How do any changes impact on the risks of the work you do?

You need to work together with workers and their worker representatives to develop answers to the seven questions and then share the plan with all your workers. This will ensure your workers and others understand how you intend to manage the risks of COVID-19 and a safe return to work at alert level 3.

Worksafe.govt.nz – Your Covid-19 safety plan – what you need to think about

(you will find the safety plan template on this link)

Your industry may have also prepared guidance to assist you with organising your work so that you can operate safely under COVID-19 restrictions. This guidance should be incorporated in your plan.

Questions and Answers for retail and hospitality

I operate a retail store. What do the different alert levels mean for me?

At Alert Level 3, you can sell any goods to customers by phone/online order and contactless delivery or collection. You cannot open your physical retail storefront to customers unless you are a supermarket, dairy or petrol station. Customers can also collect goods through drive-through or contact-less pick-up, such as click and collect, instead of delivery.

What counts as a drive-through? Can a store take phone orders and deliver the goods to people parked nearby?

Drive-throughs include already established facilities (such as at fast food outlets), and temporary drive-throughs (such as ones set up in retail car parks). Businesses can only use or establish drive-through facilities if they can meet the public health requirements. This would include physical distancing, only accepting contactless payment methods wherever possible, and contact tracing.

For example, a café can allow phone-based ordering and payment, and then deliver the food or drinks to a customer parked in their car park in a way that avoids contact.

Temporary drive-through facilities should only be established where it is appropriate. Businesses should ensure they have the necessary permits and operate any drive-through safely.

Can takeaway booths serve pedestrian-only customers?

Takeaway booths can operate if they meet public health guidelines (e.g. physical distancing).

For example, a coffee booth may accept online or phone-based orders and place coffees on a table for customers to collect. This should only be done if their physical environment allows for sufficient physical distancing by customers.

Can people without banking facilities pay in cash?

Cash should only be accepted where the customer has no alternative, and the business has measures in place to ensure the cash is handled safely (such as only accepting cash using self-check out kiosks, or appropriate sanitization measures).

Business.govt.nz - Workplace Operations at Covid-19 alert levels

The Ministry for Primary Industries has produced a Top 10 Checklist :Re-opening a food business after Covid-19 Level 4 that will be really helpful if you have a food business.

You should also read New Zealand Food Safety’s Re-opening or making changes to a food business in Alert Level 3

Another document that we have not used in this article, but may be helpful when you are preparing to start work under Alert Level 3 is COVID-19: health and safety at work - advice for essential businesses