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All non-essential businesses to close – Staying at home essential

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced that New Zealand will move to alert level 3 immediately and alert level 4 in 48 hours time.

The country will be in full lockdown for a period of 4 weeks, subject to review. It is possible that some areas may have lockdown restrictions reduced before others.

That means that all non-essential businesses will close (along with schools) within 48-hours

Supermarkets, pharmacies and other essential services will remain open.

Essential services

Essential services include the whole supply chain for food, from farmers through to supermarket staff.

Building and construction staff who may be called on to fix a problem in a hospital or another is essential service provider are also regarded as essential services.

We have posted a blog which lists the essential services that can operate during the lockdown.

New Zealand Expands Wage Subsidy

New Zealand will be extending the wage subsidy reported in our earlier blog post by removing the cap of $150,000 for businesses. Previously that cap meant that only businesses with up to 21 employees will be covered.

There is no longer a limit which means that every employer will be entitled to the subsidy if their business is impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.

New Zealand Coronavirus Situation

New Zealand currently has 102 cases but, as the Prime Minister mentioned, “so did Italy once”.

While 100 of the cases relate to people who had recent international travel, it appears as though 2 haven’t. This would suggest community transmission is now occurring.

Schools will close tomorrow and arrangements are being made for the children of health workers to receive alternative care to allow the health system to function. Schools may remain open to cater for those children.

The Prime Minister says that medical modelling suggests tens of thousands of New Zealanders could die as a result of Covid-19 if these steps aren’t taken.

She says it’s important that people stay home unless they are working in an essential service. They should remain completely alone when they leave the house for a walk.

Alert Levels

New Zealand introduced 4 alert levels over the weekend, starting with level I (Prepare) where the disease was contained, level 2 where the objective was to reduce the impact, level 3 aimed at restricting this period and level 4 designed to eliminate the disease.

On announcing the alert levels the Prime Minister advised that New Zealand, at that time, was at level 2.

Level 3

  • Travel in areas of community limited
  • Affected educational facilities closed
  • Mass gatherings cancelled
  • Public venues closed
  • Alternative ways of working required and some non-essential businesses closed
  • Non-face-to-face primary care consultations
  • Elective surgeries and procedures deferred and healthcare staff re-prioritised

Level 4

  • People to stay at home
  • Educational facilities closed
  • All non-essential businesses closed
  • Rationing of supplies and requisitioning of facilities
  • Severe travel restrictions
  • Major reprioritisation of healthcare services


The information in this article is indicative of NZ tax rules and changes and not intended to be complete for all intents or purposes and does not constitute advice. It is recommended that you obtain professional advice, suited to your particular circumstances, from us before acting on anything you read.