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COVID-19 – helping you navigate the legal implications

Home Insights COVID-19 – helping you navigate the legal implications

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Published on: March 23, 2022


As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds it brings with it uncertainty and many new challenges for all businesses. In these unprecedented times, we want to help you navigate through the legal implications – here you will find all of our latest COVID-19 insights and key contacts listed below.

If you are planning to visit our offices, please read our COVID-19 Vaccination policy, and more information on our response to COVID-19 is available here.




Release Date

Changes to Vaccination mandates and passes

Changes to the COVID-19 response (including both vaccination mandates and My Vaccine Passes) have been announced. We give quick overview of the key employment implications.

23 March 2022

Green light for the COVID-19 Traffic Light System

Last week, New Zealand replaced the Alert Level System with the new COVID-19 Protection Framework (Traffic Light System), which introduces new freedoms for vaccinated New Zealanders.

7 December 2021

Vaccination legislation update

The Government has now released new draft legislation regarding vaccination in an employment context (COVID-19 Response (Vaccinations) Legislation Bill) (Bill).

24 November 2021

Vaccination – let's get to the point…

Many employers are turning their mind to their workplace approach to vaccination. This is a rapidly developing area, so we have set out some key developments and pointers for employers when considering the big vaccination question.

19 October 2021

Rent relief for "no access in an emergency" inserted into leases

On September 28, 2021 the Government introduced the COVID-19 Response (Management Measures) Legislation Bill.

29 September 2021

The vaccination debate – first snapshot from the Authority

The Employment Relations Authority has issued its first substantive determination in relation to vaccination.

7 September 2021

New Order isolates Auckland from the rest of New Zealand

This alert focuses on key changes for businesses in the new Order, particularly the interaction between Level 4 and Level 3 regions. 

6 September 2021

What you need to know about competition law during a pandemic

It is important to remember that competition laws still apply, even during a pandemic. See our infographic for more. 

30 August 2021

COVID-19 – Building and Construction Update

In Alert Level 4, we consider the implications of this lockdown to the building and construction industry. 

26 August 2021

Here we go again - what employers need to know about lockdown

A reminder about some of the key lockdown-related issues employers should be aware of during Alert Level 4.

25 August 2021

COVID-19 – Order specifies requirements at Alert Level 4

More details on the requirements for Alert Level 4 set out in the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Alert Level Requirements) Order (No 9) 2021 (Order), including for Businesses and Services and the sale of "essential non-food consumer products". 

18 August 2021

Australia is looking to ease its continuous disclosure laws – should we do the same?

The Australian Federal Government introduced a Bill which would make permanent the temporary changes to Australia's continuous disclosure laws introduced due to COVID-19.

7 April 2021

Reminder: Employment Obligations In Alert Level 3

What you should be keeping front of mind as an employer when going into alert levels 2 and 3. 

1 March 2021

Can employers require employees to be vaccinated?

A COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for use in New Zealand and attention will likely soon turn to the practical implications. Can employers require employees to be vaccinated?  

3 February 2021

Implications of the UK Supreme Court's ruling on Business Interruption clauses and COVID-19

There has been a lack of clarity as to whether insurance cover for business interruption (BI) responds to interruptions resulting from COVID-related lockdowns. The insurance industry has often said no, but courts in several jurisdictions (the UK in this case) have interpreted policies in ways that are more favourable to the insured.

29 January 2021

Business Interruption (BI) Insurance and COVID-19: The Uninterrupted Dispute

While many NZ BI policies explicitly exclude losses caused by notifiable or infectious diseases such as COVID-19, the position overseas is less clear, with cases recently brought in both the UK and Australian courts to determine whether certain BI policies do provide such cover. 

20 November

Governance challenges amidst the pandemic: findings from the NZX 20 and lessons from Australia's Myer case

Findings from the NZX 20 and lessons from Australia’s Myer case in providing earnings guidance

18 November

Overpromising and under-delivering? The risk to infrastructure in a revised resource management system

The writing is on the wall, and the RMA is on its way out. An imminent, comprehensive overhaul of our resource management system offers us a once in a generation opportunity to crack the challenge of infrastructure planning and consenting.

15 October

COVID-19 commercial rent dispute resolution services

Subsidised arbitration and mediation services are available from now until March 2021, for tenants and landlords of small to medium businesses who have been unable to agree on rent arrangements during a lockdown period (Alert Levels 4 and 3).

30 September

Delivering new infrastructure for New Zealand 

New Zealand needs new infrastructure – that much is a given. A longstanding infrastructure deficit and the need to drive economic growth and deliver social and community benefits in the wake of COVID-19 has seen an increased political focus on both 'shovel ready' and long-term projects. 

29 September

Expiration of directors' safe harbour provisions

Temporary reforms to directors' duties in New Zealand passed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic are shortly due to roll off.  

02 September

Cybersecurity in the new normal

COVID-19 has presented cybercriminals with more opportunity than has ever been on offer before. As New Zealand businesses once again stretch and redeploy IT resource to support mass remote working, we are continuing to see an unprecedented number of cyberattacks.

 20 August

News in Parliament - August 2020

Should the election be delayed? Read our  update for the latest news in public law and policy.

13 August

Schemes of Arrangement

A scheme of arrangement may be worth considering if you are looking to restructure your business or company's debt to minimise the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, capitalise on any opportunities that arise, and/or return surplus capital in order to provide shareholders with a capital return. For more information, see:

11 August

Environment Select Committee reports back on COVID-19 Recovery (Fast-track Consenting) Bill

Following on from our update in June on the introduction of the COVID-19 Recovery (Fast-track Consenting) Bill, the Environment Select Committee has released its report. The Bill is expected to be heard under urgency and come into force next week.

01 July

FMA statement on director liability and continuous disclosure


Following recent changes in Australia, the FMA has considered the need for regulatory relief in relation to director liability thresholds in the COVID-19 environment. It has announced this week that it does not consider that change is required here in New Zealand.

19 June

Government introduces COVID-19 Recovery Fast-track Consenting Bill

Minister Parker introduced the much anticipated COVID-19 Recovery (Fast-track Consenting) Bill 2020 to the House. The Bill, which aims to provide a fast-track process for what are referred to as listed projects, referred projects and permitted infrastructure works, will be referred to Select Committee and submissions will be called this week. 

16 June

News in Parliament: Watching Brief - June 2020

COVID-19 is unprecedented in our lifetime and the policy, regulatory, and legislative response has had to be similarly so. The Government's legislative programme was necessarily dropped, allowing for policy development and the introduction of Bills at pace. 

5 June

Government proposes to imply rent abatement clauses in certain commercial leases

The Government has announced that it intends to introduce legislation to:

  • imply a "fair proportion" rent abatement clause into certain existing commercial leases;

  • require disputes in relation to the application of the implied clause to be resolved through arbitration; and

  • introduce a subsidy for any consequent arbitrations between landlords and tenants. 

4 June

Overseas Investment (Urgent Measures) Amendment Act to come into force 16 June 2020

The Overseas Investment (Urgent Measures) Amendment Act 2020 ("Urgent Measures Act") received Royal assent yesterday, after being passed under urgency last week. 

3 June

In the wake of COVID-19, the Government stays firm on action for healthy waterways

Post-lockdown, the Government has moved swiftly to announce its decisions on freshwater law reform proposals under the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA). 

29 May 

Select Committee Report: Overseas Investment (Urgent Measures) Bill

The Finance and Expenditure Committee has reported back on the Overseas Investment (Urgent Measures) Amendment Bill ("Urgent Measures Bill"), which is currently working its way through the House under urgency.

26 May

COVID-19 – New Act and Order specify requirements at Alert Level 2


On 13 May 2020, New Zealand moved from Alert Level 3 to Alert Level 2. Unlike Alert Levels 3 and 4, the easing of restrictions at Alert Level 2 will occur in stages. From the outset, retail stores, restaurants, cafes, malls, and public spaces can reopen. On 18 May, early childhood centres, schools and tertiary organisations will see the majority of children and young people returning, and bars may open from 21 May. All of which are subject to additional controls, which are explained in this article. 

14 May

Urgent changes to the Overseas Investment Act

The Government introduced the Overseas Investment (Urgent Measures) Amendment Bill to fast track amendments to the Overseas Investment Act 2005 in response to the economic impact of COVID-19. 

14 May

New Act and Order specify requirements at Alert Level 2

The requirements for Alert Level 2 are set out in the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Alert Level 2) Order 2020, which is made pursuant to the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020. The Act, passed under urgency, provides a legal framework for the Minister of Health to make Orders to direct behaviour to respond to COVID-19. 

14 May

Details released on Fast-track Consenting Bill

The Minister for the Environment has released a paper to Cabinet providing further detail on the proposal to develop fast-track consenting legislation. 

14 May

Details of business support measures released in new Bill

The Government introduced to Parliament the much-anticipated COVID-19 Response (Further Management Measures) Legislation Bill, progressing initiatives to support businesses in managing the impacts of COVID-19. In this update we provide further detail on the two major aspects of the changes, the safe harbour and business debt hibernation scheme.

8 May

Taking your business to the next (Alert) Level

When New Zealand shifts from Alert Level 3 to Alert Level 2, the overarching principle for businesses remains the same – the responsibility is on businesses to ensure that they operate safely, by complying with infection control measures. 

8 May

Further law changes proposed to respond to COVID-19

The COVID-19 Response (Further Management Measures) Legislation Bill was introduced to the House, proposing amendments to a number of different pieces of legislation to "assist New Zealand to respond to the wide-ranging effects of COVID-19". 

5 May 

COVID Cooperation: Commerce Commission issues guidelines

The NZCC recently issued guidelines on "Business collaboration under COVID-19". These outline the factors the NZCC will take into account in distinguishing between "legitimate" and "unscrupulous" collaboration.

5 May

The Government's Fast-Track Consenting Bill on track

The Government confirmed they are focused on alleviating some of the pressure on "shovel-ready" infrastructure and development projects through the development of "fast track consenting" legislation. This article discusses the Government's announcement and the challenges that will likely be faced.

4 May 

Latest COVID-19 tax measures passed under urgency

The latest round of tax-related measures to assist businesses dealing with the implications of COVID-19, including a loss carry-back regime and a new power for Inland Revenue to be more flexible on certain deadlines and timeframes. 

30 April

Health Act Order specifies requirements at Alert Level 3

Insights into the requirements for Alert Level 3 under the Health Act (COVID-19 Alert Level 3) Order 2020, issued by the Government on 24 April.

28 April 

New Construction Protocols provide guidance on how sites should operate under Alert Level 3

Industry representatives and the Government have collaborated to prepare new COVID-19 Construction Protocols for operating under Alert Level 3. 

23 April

COVID-19 contact tracing apps trigger legal privacy concerns - how NZ should respond

Discusses areas in privacy and data protection laws that need to be ‘recalibrated’ as digital tools replace traditional contact tracing measures.

20 April

Picking up the Pieces: Acquiring Distressed Assets in the Time of COVID-19

Discusses the circumstances in which acquirers of distressed assets may be able to employ the so-called "failing firm" argument to acquire assets that would ordinarily give rise to competition law concerns.

17 April

Latest COVID-19 tax measures include reforms to tax loss rules

The Government has announced a further round of tax-related measures to assist businesses dealing with the implications of COVID-19.

17 April

Government issues guidance for businesses on Alert Level 3

The Government has today issued guidance for how businesses can operate in Alert Level 3 (on New Zealand's COVID-19 Alert System), and what measures are required for them to do so. 

16 April 

Fast tracking infrastructure

The Government has recently announced plans to fast-track "shovel ready" infrastructure projects to help the economy bounce back from COVID-19.

16 April 

Temporary changes announced to support businesses with rent and mortgage payments

The Government has announced temporary changes to the Property Law Act 2007, in an effort to support businesses that may be under financial stress and struggling to make rent or mortgage payments as a result of the response to COVID-19.

15 April

Responsible lending in the context of COVID-19 challenges

The Commerce Commission has issued guidance for lenders in relation to their responsible lending obligations in the current circumstances.

3 April

Changes to Companies Act to support businesses

The Government has announced temporary changes to the Companies Act 1993, in an effort to support businesses facing insolvency as a result of COVID-19.

3 April

Business Interruption Insurance and COVID-19

For businesses suffering losses who will be considering whether they can make claims under their insurance policies for business interruption.

3 April

Watching Brief – COVID-19 Special Edition

How Parliament is responding to the COVID-19 crisis.

31 March

Electronic Signatures: Using technology to minimise COVID-19 business disruption for contracts

Signing contracts which would normally be signed by wet-ink signature can be executed entirely by electronic means.

30 March

Timeframes shift for financial services reforms

MBIE has amended existing timeframes for compliance with new legislation and for providing submissions on proposed legislation.

27 March

The Government and Commission indicate a "flexible" approach to competition law

The Government and Commission indicate a "flexible" approach to competition law.

23 March

Coronavirus and crisis cartels

It is a common misconception that competition law recognises economic crises, or a declared state of emergency, as a defence. In fact, cartels that have been prosecuted by regulators were more likely to arise during periods of economic shock, recession or economic distress.

18 March

Government announces economic response package to Coronavirus

The Government has announced the first stage of its economic response package to COVID-19.

17 March

Travel restrictions: Key legal considerations

Key legal considerations that you might need to think through due to travel restrictions.

15 March

Contractual performance amidst a global outbreak

Efforts to contain the spread of the virus such as quarantines, travel restrictions and bans are creating a second – economic – crisis by disrupting global supply chains, which critically depend on the free flow of goods and people. 

20 Feburary

Key contacts:


Troy Pilkington


Ed Crook, Anna Crosbie, David Butler, Polly Pope, Michael Taylor

Continuous Disclosure & Shareholder meetings

David Raudkivi, Ian Beaumont

Contract/force majeure

Will Irving, Kirsten Massey, Marika Eastwick-Field, Malcolm Crotty


Kylie Dunn, Emma Peterson

Environmental compliance and consenting

Allison Arthur-Young, Daniel Minhinnick

Health and Safety

Kylie Dunn, Malcolm Crotty, Mark Campbell


Dan Jones, Tom Hunt, Ed Crook, Mei Fern Johnson

Insurance (including Business interruption and Travel)

Marika Eastwick-Field


Ed Crook, David Butler, Anna Crosbie, Will Irving, Marika Eastwick-Field

Regulatory - Alert Levels

Craig Shrive, Tim Clarke

Restructuring/Insolvency/Directors' duties

Matt Kersey, Polly Pope, Kirsten Massey


 Fred Ward, Greg Neill


Liz Blythe, Mei Fern Johnson 

Register for our upcoming COVID-19 webinars

If you are interested in learning more about the legal impacts of COVID-19 and receiving future legal CPD invitations from us, please email [email protected]. To view the full range of our upcoming CPD-eligible events coming up, see here.

Our team is ready and able to assist you. We  want to support you in whatever way we can so please reach out to us if you have any questions or would like to discuss anything further.

For more information on Russell McVeagh's response to COVID-19, please see our COVID-19 Vaccination policy here and more information on our response here.

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