COVID-19 – Order specifies requirements at Alert Level 4

Home Insights COVID-19 – Order specifies requirements at Alert Level 4

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Contributed by: Craig Shrive and Victoria Piatov

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Published on: August 18, 2021


On 17 August 2021 at 11:59pm, New Zealand moved from Alert Level 1 into an Alert Level 4 lockdown. Auckland and the Coromandel Peninsula will remain at Alert Level 4 for at least 7 days, while the rest of New Zealand will remain at Alert Level 4 for at least 3 days. The Government continues to use orders pursuant to the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020 to direct and enforce behaviour.1
Given that it has been over a year since New Zealand was last at Alert Level 4, in the COVID-19 media conference yesterday, the Prime Minister reminded us that the underlying principle at Alert Level 4 is to reduce contact between people to a bare minimum; only essential contact is permitted. The requirements for Alert Level 4 are set out in the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Alert Level Requirements) Order (No 9) 2021 (Order) (available here). It includes contact tracing and physical distancing requirements, permissions for essential personal movement, a prohibition on gathering outdoors, and the requirement for premises to remain closed.

Alert Level 4 Businesses and Services

Alert Level 4 businesses and services specified in Schedule 2 of the Order can operate if specified social distancing requirements are complied with, including that customers or clients do not enter the workplace (unless expressly provided for – such as supermarkets and dairies). Level 4 businesses and services include (see Schedule 2 for the full list):

  • supermarkets, dairies, petrol stations and foodbanks;

  • hardware and DIY stores for selling to trade customers;

  • uncooked food delivery;

  • building and construction to address immediate risk to health and safety or nationally important infrastructure;

  • freight and passenger services;

  • food production and supply chain;

  • key utilities;

  • securities services; and

  • businesses necessary to maintain other Alert Level 4 businesses or services.

Sale of "essential non-food consumer products"

Similar to the latter stages of the last Level 4 lockdown, the Order permits the sale of "essential non-food consumer products" (which are not defined) through online delivery. Businesses wishing to trade such products online must comply with the Alert Level 4 requirements outlined in the Order, including:2

  • ensuring, so far as is reasonably practicable, that workers remain at least 1 metre apart and that any other person entering the workplace remains at least 2 metres away from any other person;

  • mitigating, so far as is reasonably practicable, the risks that arise where physical distancing is not fully maintained (for example, through regular cleaning of surfaces or the installation of plastic barriers);

  • not permitting customers and clients in the workplace;

  • displaying a QR Code and having an alternative contract tracing system; and

  • putting in place systems and processes to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that each person who enters the workplace scans the QR code for the workplace or provides details in an alternative contact tracing record.

Not all measures in the Government's Alert Level 4 guidance (available here) are mandated by the Order, which implements minimum requirements from a public health perspective. The guidance recommends that businesses which can operate, and that require employees to work on site, should implement the following measures:

  • physical distancing is specifically defined in the Order, but the general principle is that, wherever possible, a two-metre distance between people is preferable;

  • flexible working arrangements should be offered, for example, staggered meal breaks, or staggered start and finish times to help with physical distancing;

  • workplaces should be regularly cleaned and disinfected;

  • personal protective equipment should be made available for employees to use and businesses should encourage workers to wear a face covering if physical distancing is difficult; and

  • hand washing facilities should be provided for employees.

Additionally, businesses must continue to meet their obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015. Businesses will need to consider what specific risk mitigation measures are appropriate for their workplace at Alert Level 4 – WorkSafe guidance on this can be found here.
If you would like to obtain more clarity on what Alert Level 4 means for your business, please contact one of our experts below.



  1. COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020, s 9.
  2. COVID-19 Public Health Response (Alert Level Requirements) Order 2021, ss 8, 10, 14, 18, 19, 20 and Schedule 2.

This article is intended only to provide a summary of the subject covered. It does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. No person should act in reliance on any statement contained in this publication without first obtaining specific professional advice. If you require any advice or further information on the subject matter of this newsletter, please contact the partner/solicitor in the firm who normally advises you, or alternatively contact one of the partners listed below.

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