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Coronavirus Alert:

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From midnight on Monday, 26 April 2020 New Zealanders will be able to open their doors and have a peek outside to a very changed world.

For 4 weeks the country has been locked down with little of the ambiguity we have had in Australia. Kiwi contact has been limited to their “bubble”, the people that they live with.

From the day the lockdown was announced, New Zealanders were told that where they stay that night is where they stay for the duration of the lockdown. However from midnight Monday, New Zealand is getting ready to open up for business.

While New Zealand enjoys a statutory holiday on Monday for the ANZAC weekend, some business owners are getting ready to unlock their doors.

Can You Open Up Your Business Premises?

You will be able to open your New Zealand business premises if you can do so safely. The facts are that Alert Level 3 is not going to be spectacularly different from the Alert Level 4 lockdown. New Zealanders can expand their bubbles a little but the expectation is that, where they can, they need to continue to work from home. If that isn’t possible then businesses can open – well, sort of.

The workplace needs to be operating safely. That means it needs to comply with the Alert Level 3 criteria. That calls for a safe, clean environment.

Customers will not be allowed on the premises. Businesses are allowed to trade providing they can do so without any physical contact with customers. That pretty much restricts things to phone/online orders, delivery and contactless pickup and drive through.

Businesses are not allowed to offer services that involve close personal contact apart from essential services. There is absolutely no going to the hairdresser in New Zealand.

Retailing, Bars And Restaurants

These businesses can open however customers are not allowed to enter your premises. That means you can offer deliveries, drive-through and contactless pickup. Your customers are certainly not allowed to consume food or drink on your premises.

However businesses who were allowed to open under Alert Level 4 (lockdown) can continue to trade at the new level. That means supermarkets, dairies (the New Zealand term for convenience stores), pharmacies and petrol stations can continue as they were.

Deliveries

Under the lockdown, New Zealand didn’t allow deliveries because they couldn’t guarantee the safety and standards applied in the preparation of the product, particularly food.

This can now happen. However the delivery needs to be contactless.

Alcohol can also be delivered providing the business has an off-licence. This was never seen as a major issue because all New Zealand supermarkets are well stocked with wine, beer and other alcoholic products.

Do You Need To Provide Masks, Gloves And Other PPE To Your Workers?

If your workers didn’t require special protective clothing prior to the COVID-19 situation, they do not require it now. You should ensure there are adequate hand washing (soap and warm water) facilities and that social distancing is maintained.

You should build in processes that include regular cleaning of all surfaces.

Proper etiquette of coughing and sneezing into the elbow rather than the hand needs to be encouraged.

Can Customers Pay With Cash?

Payment with cash is permitted if there is no alternative. Staff should be encouraged to clean their hands well and often after handling cash.

Can I Meet With My Customers Face-To-Face?

Absolutely not. All customer contact should be done remotely such as by phone or online.

While it is now possible to provide services in the customers home, care needs to be taken to ensure physical distancing and frequent washing of hands with soap and warm water. If that is not available then your staff should have a supply of hand sanitiser.

Can I Travel?

From Australia? Absolutely not. New Zealand citizens can return but will face a quarantining of 14 days in a hotel room, exactly the same as the situation when people return to Australia.

If you have staff who need to travel for work they can do that providing the business is in the same region that they are living. You still can’t travel from Wellington to Auckland for work.

Social Distancing At Work

While New Zealanders are expected to continue to keep 2 metres away from other people in public places there is a general recognition that the workplace can be better controlled.

If there are protections in place such as protective screens or the use of personal protective equipment including masks and gloves, it will be acceptable to reduce the distancing to just one metre.

However, where these protections are not available then the 2 metre guideline remains in place.

Furthermore, there should be regular disinfecting and you need to ensure that employees are not turning up to work sick.

For more details on the NZ workplace operations at COVID-19 alert levels.

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.