Covid-19 FAQs

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Frequently asked questions

Under the Health & Safety Work Act 2015 you are required to provide your employees, contractors and customers with the highest level of protection from workplace health and safety risks, so far as reasonably practicable. At Alert Level 3, you are required to have a COVID-19 Safety Plan available to your employees about how you will keep them safe and well. This must include hand washing and hygiene practice, keeping 1-2m apart and small work bubbles.

If a staff member does not want to come into work because of Coronavirus have a discussion with them around the current Coronavirus situation, what you are doing to protect your staff, the current Ministry of Health recommendations and whether you require them to work. You can find more information and advice here.

Under level three restrictions, people at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 should take extra precautions. You should discuss with these employees whether they can work from home, or other ways to keep them safe while at work and travelling to work. If they decide to stay at home, and cannot work from home you should agree with the employee what their leave and pay arrangements will be.

If a staff member does not want to come into work because of Coronavirus have a discussion with them around the current Coronavirus situation, what you are doing to protect your staff, the current Ministry of Health recommendations and whether you require them to work. You can find more information and advice here.

How you pay your staff in Level 3 depends on whether your staff are still unable to work or whether they can now return to work as per normal or at reduced capacity.

If your employees are still unable to work you can agree to continue the payment that you have been providing for Alert Level 4. If your staff are returning to work, you must pay them at their contractual wage for the hours worked. If they are working reduced hours, you will need to consult with them as this would be a change to their employment contract.

If you need to cut hours or reduce staff numbers, it's critical that you're following a proper process and staying on the right side of the law. Read our tips.

Westpac are offering a relief package and maybe able to help, any concerned Retail NZ Members should contact their Relationship Manager in the first instance or click here to learn more or contact your bank. You can also read more about the Government's business support package and how it can assist with cashflow.

On March 17, the Government announced a multi-billion dollar support package to assist businesses and Kiwis in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses affected by the Coronavirus are eligible to receive a wage subsidies for all employees. Additional tax measures have also been taken to help business cashflow and encourage business investment. We've highlighted the detail that will be relevant to your business.

Finance Minister Robertson has announced more detail on the $6.25 billion Business Finance Guarantee Scheme for small and medium-sized businesses, to protect jobs and support the economy. Under the scheme, Westpac is offering Business Support Loans to help businesses meet urgent liquidity and bridging financing requirements due to disruption caused by COVID-19.

No. There are no changes to the rules about retail stores opening between Alert Level 3 and Alert Level 4, so if your store is not "essential", you are not allowed to open your physical shop. However, you are able to sell online and manage contactless click and collect.

Retailers will be able to sell all their normal products at Alert Level 3. At this point, there has been no indication that a restriction is placed on the items that can be sold or delivered to consumers.

No, however you can sell your products online. It is unlikely that these personal care services will be allowed to open until Alert Level 2.

Greengrocers, butchers, and bakers can sell to consumers if you are able to take orders over the phone or online, and can operate contactless click-and-collect or delivery. You can sell whole food products to consumers. At Alert Level 3, prepared food and drink can be bought and sold from dairies and petrol stations, but cannot be consumed by customers onsite.

Restaurants, bars and cafes cannot open their premises to customers at Alert Level 3 and 4. At Alert Level 3, they can sell prepared food and non-alcoholic beverages by contactless delivery and collection (including drive-through). At Alert Level 4, they cannot sell any prepared food or beverages. Make sure you view MPI's checklist for food business.

You are still able to sell online and operate contactless click and collect, however you are not able to open your doors to customers. Any click and collect service must involve no face to face contact with customers. View MPI's guidelines for operating under the Food Act 2014 at Alert Level 3.

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 cafe 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.

A World Health Organisation spokesperson has suggested that using contactless payments can help stop the spread of COVID-19. Westpac NZ is supporting small businesses (annual turnover less than $500K) by waiving contactless debit fees for eligible existing customers for six months. Retail NZ members can reach out directly to their Westpac Relationship Manager. PayWave limits have now been increased to $200 but can only be used for businesses who are allowed to open their storefronts to customers.

If you are not set up to take telephone orders you will need to reach out to your bank to request the ability to take card payments over the phone (or have your customers transfer funds before you deliver goods).

Westpac's Chief Economist is releasing weekly commentary briefings each Friday - take a look.

At this stage, there is no provision for special exemptions to be made to the rules.

The Commerce Commission has released some guidance for businesses which have had to cancel services and events.

Keep up to date with advice and guidance on COVID-19 on our website.

If you need advice, please get in touch with our Advice Service on 0800 472 472 (1800 128 086 from Australia) or email us on

Find the latest information and recommendation on the Coronavirus here.

Updated on 29th April 2020.