We welcome the shift back to something resembling normality with the country (outside of Auckland) shifting back to Level 2 at midnight tonight. This time round Level 2 comes with a lot more restrictions including greater distancing, smaller gathering sizes and increased mandatory mask use.
Indoor gatherings are now limited to 50 (down from 100), but outdoor gatherings can have up to 100 people (unchanged). At hospitality venues, the social distancing requirement remains 1m. However, at other public places, the social distancing requirements for public places increase to 2m.
Public Health commentators are suggesting that these restrictions could continue for some time.
The increased restrictions are going to continue to hurt some businesses, so hopefully, we see the same support local spirit that we saw in May last year which will help ease that pain.
Mandatory mask use
For this Level 2 setting, legally, anyone over the age of 12 must wear a face covering when:
- using public transport, aeroplanes (including in departure points such as train/bus stations) and in a taxi or ride-share vehicle
- visiting a healthcare or aged care facility
- inside retail businesses, such as supermarkets, pharmacies, shopping malls, indoor marketplaces and takeaway food stores
- visiting the public areas within courts and tribunals, local and central government agencies, and social service providers with customer service counters.
We are already been a lot of confusion about mask use. At the time of writing, there is no legal requirement to wear a mask in most non-public facing workplaces. It is also not a legal requirement for customers to wear masks at hospitality venues (other than if they are there to pick up takeaways), although staff must wear masks.
A reminder that mandatory sign in kicks in 7 days from the change to Alert Level 2. For further detail on this change, please refer to our prior blog on this here.
Keep up to date with the latest public health guidance
The public health guidance has been changing rapidly, so we suggest that you check here for the latest official guidance.
For business owners, Business.govt.nz are currently updating its summary of Level 2 rules for businesses, which will be available here once updated.
Various industry bodies have tailored information for various sectors, these include:
- Retail: https://retail.kiwi/advice/covid-19/
- Viticulture: https://www.nzwine.com/en/covid19/practical-advice/
- Agriculture/primary industries: https://www.mpi.govt.nz/covid-19-information-and-advice/
- Hospitality: https://www.restaurantnz.co.nz/covid-19-hospitality-hub/
- Construction: https://www.building.govt.nz/covid-19/
- Real-estate: https://www.rea.govt.nz/news/covid-19/
Note some of the above had not been updated for the latest Level 2 requirements at the time of writing.
Good time to reflect and plan
As a general observation, we would say that the impact of the past 21 days of Lockdown has not been anywhere near as severe for most businesses as the March-May 2020 lockdowns were. Many businesses had adapted and were able to continue to trade to some extent. Of course, some businesses could not trade due to the nature of their business and matters outside of their control (hospitality etc).
The Government remains committed to an elimination strategy until vaccination rates are very high (presumably higher than 80% of the population over 12 being vaccinated). The Government has also confirmed that Lockdowns remain central to that strategy if and when there are border incursions. The Government has also shown that it will lockdown parts of New Zealand where there is no evidence of any threat from Covid existing.
With the increased transmissibility of the Delta Strain of Covid and outbreaks across the world, further incursions and therefore lockdowns this year remain a real possibility. Therefore, we suggest that you take some time to review how your business coped with this lockdown and revisit your business continuity plans in case there is another lockdown in the not-too-distant future.