COVID-19 Alert Level 2: Frequently asked questions

Nick Stanley
By Nick Stanley

All regions of New Zealand, apart from the Auckland region, are at COVID-19 Alert Level 2.

The Auckland region is at Alert Level 3, Step 2.

At 11.59pm on 2 December, the country moves a new 3-level “traffic light” system, called the COVID-19 Protection Framework. Read our blog post on the new system.

This information, answering questions we receive from our members, is correct as of 30 November 2021.


Under Alert Level 2 what businesses can open and what restrictions are in place?

The COVID-19 website states:

“At Alert Level 2, all businesses can open with some restrictions, including physical distancing, use of face coverings, and record-keeping.”

To meet physical distancing requirements, workers should keep at least 1 metre apart, where possible. This may mean you have to limit the number of people on the premises and offer employees flexible working options - e.g. working from home or staggered start times, and have virtual meetings.

If you have customers on site, you may need to limit the number of people that can enter at any one time and/or limit customer contact by offering contactless payment and delivery options.

If you have visitors to your workplace, you need to make sure they keep a 2-metre distance from others, e.g. reception staff.

Other Alert Level 2 restrictions are:

  • Mandatory face-coverings for:
    • Customers when in taxis or ride-share vehicles, on public transport, at a retail business, public venue, or when visiting public venues within courts, tribunals, local and central government agencies etc.
    • Customer-facing employees at a business or service.
  • Scanning and contact tracing in most businesses (find more information below).
  • People at indoor and outdoor events and gatherings must stay 1 metre apart. There are no restrictions on the number of people who can attend.
  • Customers at restaurants, cafes, bars, and night clubs must all be seated to be served. There are no restrictions on the number of customers that can be seated, either indoors or outdoors. Dance floors are closed.
  • Indoor public facilities such as gyms and libraries have a limit of the number of people permitted inside, based on maintaining a 2-metre distance.

Find out more about Level 2 restrictions at the COVID-19 website.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has also provided detailed information about operating businesses at the various alert levels.


Do my workers have to wear face coverings?

Your employees must wear a face covering if they work:

  • In a public-facing area of a court, tribunal, local or central government agency or social service provider.
  • As a delivery driver to residential addresses (only while out of the vehicle).
  • In a customer-facing role in a hospitality business, e.g. a cafe or restaurant, or
    for a close-contact service, e.g. hairdressers or beauty therapists.
  • In a customer-facing role at a retail store, including those that were operating at Alert Levels 3 and 4.
  • In a public-facing area at an indoor public venue, e.g. a library or museum (employees working at a swimming pool do not need to wear a face covering).
  • As a driver of a taxi, ride-share vehicle, ferry, bus or train used for public transport (excluding school buses).
  • In the passenger areas of the ferry that runs between the North and South Island.
  • In a veterinary clinic.

If your workplace is not open to the public, employees do not need to wear a face covering but should be encouraged to do so for health & safety reasons.


What sort of contact tracing do we have to do?

At all Alert Levels, all workplaces and businesses legally must display NZ COVID Tracer QR codes in multiple places around the premises (not just at the main entrance).

All the QR code posters must be in good condition so they can be easily scanned.

At Alert Level 2 and higher, businesses must also have an alternative system for people who do not use the NZ COVID Tracer app (supermarkets, petrol stations, and transport stations only have to record people who work there).

Find out more about contact tracing at COVID-19.govt.nz.


Which businesses are required to keep mandatory records of people who attended a place?

From 11:59 pm on Tuesday, 7 September 2021, everyone over the age of 12 must legally keep a record of where they have been when visiting certain places, such as bars and restaurants, cinemas, libraries, funerals and weddings, government agencies etc.

This is to enable quick-contact tracing.

People responsible for a place or gathering where record-keeping is mandatory must take steps to ensure they keep a record of all visitors, and have systems and processes in place to help people record their details.

This applies to:

  • Cafes, restaurants, bars, and nightclubs.
  • Aged care and health care facilities.
  • Close-contact personal care services, e.g. hairdressers or beauticians.
  • Exercise facilities, e.g. gyms or swimming pools.
  • Entertainment venues, e.g. cinemas, stadiums, theatres or casinos.
  • Indoor public facilities where people gather, e.g. museums or libraries.
  • Courts or tribunals.
  • Local and central government agencies or a social services providers with customer service counters.
  • Organising a wedding, funeral, tangihanga or faith-based service.
  • Organising a concert.
  • Having a gathering or hui at a marae.

All businesses, services, workplaces, and public transport operators must legally display a NZ COVID Tracer QR poster.

Find out more about getting QR code posters at COVID-19.govt.nz.


We work in customers' homes and/or drive to customer premises, how do we track that?

If your workplace is a customer’s premise or a vehicle, you do not need to display a QR code.

This means that tradespeople (such as plumbers), couriers and delivery drivers will not need to display a QR code when making deliveries to customers or working in someone's home.

However, physical distancing requirements and any other relevant health and safety considerations will apply, and you should keep detailed records of your movements. This can be paper-based, such as a diary, or electronically.

We encourage businesses to keep track of their employee’s jobs, as well as asking employees to keep a record.


What are my obligations when collecting and storing people's information?

It is vital that businesses act in accordance with the Privacy Act 2020 in collecting and storing details of customers and employees as part of contact tracing.

Previous visitors’ attendance records should not be visible to subsequent visitors. Unsecured personal information exposes people to unwelcome contact, fraud, or even identity theft, and is a breach of the Privacy Act.

Alternative options for collecting information are utilising a tablet to sign customers in or providing slips of paper and a ballot box.

It would be best practice to have a notice up around why and how you are managing private information.

The government's COVID-19 website has a range of resources that may be helpful.


What happens if someone refuses to scan the QR code or provide their contact details?

The COVID-19 website outlines:

“There is no expectation or requirement that you should force a customer or visitor to scan in or provide their details for contact tracing.

You are also not required or expected to turn people away who may refuse to make a record of their visit. It is up to you to decide what is appropriate for your premises and the wellbeing of your staff and other customers.”


Are people able to travel for work?

Under Alert Level 2, people are allowed to travel to work.

Business or work travel across Alert Level boundaries is strictly limited. If you have workers who need to cross an Alert Level boundary, they will need evidence that their travel is permitted, e.g. Business Travel Document.

Find out more about Business Travel Documents at Business.govt.nz.


My employees are required to cross the Alert Level boundary between Auckland and the Northland and Waikato regions; will they be required to have regular testing?

Yes. Information on the COVID19 website states:

“From 11:59pm on 9 September 2021, most employers of workers who need to cross Alert Level boundaries for work must have a process in place to allow these employees to be tested for COVID-19. This includes allowing their workers to undergo testing, medical examination, or both during their work hours.

From 11:59pm on 16 September, most workers crossing the Alert Level boundary must carry:

  • evidence that they have had a COVID-19 test (such as a text message or paper confirmation), or
  • a medical certificate verifying they do not have COVID-19 symptoms and, for a particular physical or other need, are unable to have a COVID-19 test.”

Employees must be tested or examined within 7 days before they cross the Alert Level boundary.

On Monday 6 September, Director-General of Health, Ashley Bloomfield, and Prime Minister, Jacinda Adern, confirmed that unless workers are symptomatic, they are not required to stand down or stay at home while awaiting their test result.

There will be spot checks at the borders to ensure people are getting tested weekly.

People who transit across Auckland to other regions will need to pass through without stopping.