11th May, 2020

Business owners prepare for Level 2 restrictions

New Zealand may be on the cusp of relaxing its restrictions further, with Prime Minister Jacinda Arden signalling a move to Level 2 restrictions today.

In this scenario, businesses will be able to open to the public as long as they maintain physical distancing and other restrictions.

Schools, early learning services, and places of tertiary education will also be able to open.

“Think of ourselves as halfway down Everest,” Ardern said last week. “’It’s clear that no one wants to hike back up that peak and the descent is known to be even more dangerous.”

New Zealand relaxed restrictions to Level 3 last week, which allowed cafes and restaurants to open if they only served take-away food, and maintained social distancing procedures.

What does Level 2 look like?

On a personal basis, Level 2 restrictions allow people to meet with friends and family, and even travel domestically.

For businesses, Level 2 restrictions allow a number of different activities:

  • People can return to work in offices, though they should still follow health guidelines and official measures
  • There can be no more than 100 people at indoor or outdoor gatherings
  • People must stand two metres apart when in public
  • Businesses may open, but they need to follow public health guidance
  • Alternative work methods are encouraged such as physical distancing, staggered meal breaks, flexible leave, and remote working

In short, Level 2 restrictions will give the majority of businesses the ability to open in some capacity.

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How should businesses prepare for Level 2 restrictions?

Although some businesses have already been allowed to open in Level 3 restrictions, businesses should do all they can to prepare for the eventual return to work (especially in office buildings).

Preparations should start as early as possible, including:

  • Creating split rosters and shift systems for office workers to return if they wish (including a day-on day-off system)
  • Create social distancing guidelines and materials for workers to read in the office
  • Make sure cleaning and hygiene procedures are in place, including hand sanitiser available for workers wherever they are
  • If businesses operate in public then make sure social distancing guidelines are clearly labelled for visitors to see
  • Speak with employees about the measures you’ve put in place to encourage safety and hygiene, and outline the guidelines for them to follow
  • Keep records of who you and your employees are regularly in close contact with at work in order to assist with contact tracing if necessary
  • Encourage employees who report symptoms or sickness to stay at home

The Government is expected to make a new announcement about Level 2 restrictions today.