The New Zealand Prime Minister has announced what Level 2 will look like. The decision to shift to Level 2 is yet to be made. Cabinet meets on Monday to decide if, and when, the shift to Level 2 will occur. However, all indications are that Level 2 will begin from next Wednesday, but the Prime Minister has signalled that Level 2 may be phased in.
The framework for Level 2 significantly removes many of the restrictions of Levels 3 & 4 which will be a much-welcomed relief for our sanity and a major boost for the economy. The changes resemble something like a return to normal.
Like the shift to level 3, it is fair to expect an initial rush of people wanting to get out and spend.
Level 2 was described by the Prime Minister as a safe reopening of the economy. The fundamental principles include:
- People should stay at home if they are sick; and
- Anyone with any cold or flu symptoms should be tested; and
- Enhanced hygiene measures need to be in place (regular cleaning of high touch surfaces etc); and
- Contacts need to be traceable (I.e. a guest register will be required for somewhere that strangers can be in contact with each other); and
- Social distancing (2m) remains for contact with strangers, but can be somewhat relaxed for non-stranger interactions; and
- Bubbles will be a thing of the past; and
- No gatherings of more than 100 people; and
- Contactless payment will no longer be required; and
- Borders remain closed, but domestic travel can resume.
The Government is working on a nationwide contact tracing technology that will be based on QR codes, but it does not sound like that will be ready in time for the shift to Level 2.
What it means for businesses
If businesses can safely trade within the Level 2 framework, they will be able to do so. The shift to Level 2 will provide the first opportunity to trade for about 7 weeks for many businesses, including some of the hardest hit industries.
Like the shift to level 3, it is fair to expect that there will be an initial rush of people wanting to get out and spend. Consumer confidence is extremely low, so consumer spending will almost certainly fall to far lower than normal levels at some point after this initial rush. Therefore, businesses will want to make sure they are prepared and can reopen safely in those first few days.
The Prime Minister described how certain industries will be able to operate. Here is a brief summary:
Retail – can trade with enhanced hygiene measures, especially for high touch surfaces. Numbers of customers in the store may need to be managed for larger retailers to ensure social distancing.
Hospitality – Unsurprisingly hospitality has the toughest requirements. A hospitality venue will be subject to the “3 S’s”:
- Seated – patrons must be seated.
- Separated – there must be physical distancing between the tables.
- Single server – each table must be served at the table by a single server.
These requirements may mean that it is impractical or uneconomical for certain hospitality venues to reopen at Level 2.
Hairdressers and beauty salons – can resume seeing customers but will probably need to wear personal protection equipment due to the prolonged close proximity to customers.
Sport and recreation – Gyms, pools, parks and museums etc can all reopen, subject to necessary precautions.
Sports can resume on a case by case basis. A domestic rugby and netball competition will start as soon as possible.
Education – Can resume subject to necessary precautions. Schools will resume the first Monday after the announcement.