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Advice for members on the coronavirus outbreak, COVID-19

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updated 20th May, 2020

previous updates: 15th May, 11th May, 6th May, 20th April, 16th April, 28 March, 26th March, 24th March, 23rd March, 21st March, 20th March, 19th March, 18th March, 17th March, 15th March, 12th March, 5th March, 4th March, 3rd March, 2nd March, 24th February, 17th February, 14th February, 12th February, 9th February, 4th February, 29th January

Download the Operating your business at Level 2 guidelines for hospitality businesses here

Click here to jump to our FaQ’s post

Click here to view our Covid-19 templates & guides

Download the Contactless delivery and pick up guide for Level 3 here

Our latest news section also includes updates on Covid-19

The COVID-19 Public Health Response Act (Alert Level 2) Order 2020, which commenced on 14th May, has required a number of updates to the original guidance. Members are encouraged to phone the Association for clarification on any points. Further information:

For restaurants and cafes, a number of new measures have been put in place. Refer to Clause 12 of the Order.

From 14th May 2020, Clause 12 of the Order specifies:

Businesses such as restaurants or cafes must:

  • Permit no more than 100 customers (or clients) to be in the premises at any one time (excluding staff)
  • Ensure that each customer or client is seated at a table (other than when entering, using a toilet or bathroom, paying, or departing)
  • Ensure that no more than 10 customers or clients are seated at a table together
  • Ensure that adjacent tables are arranged so there is at least a 1-metre separation between the seated customers (or clients) at adjacent tables
  • Ensure that only 1 person serves at any table
  • Keep records to enable contact tracing of customers (or clients) who enter the business to consume their food / drink on the premises.

In addition, from 14th May until 8am on 21st May, in the case of on-licence premises, the business needs to ensure that  –

  • No alcohol is supplied on the premises unless the buyer is a customer or client present on the premises to dine. While there is no definition of what constitutes “ to dine”, it is considered that the food should be something more than snack food.

For businesses like those offering takeaway services, a different measures have also been put in place. Refer to Clause 10 of the Order.

From 14th May 2020, Clause 10 of the Order specifies the business must:

  • Ensure that all people who enter the workplace or use its services remain 2 metres away from each other and from staff (to the greatest extent practicable)
  • Ensure that if food or drink is sold or provided for consumption on the premises that the measures listed above (outlined in Clause 12 of the Order) are followed.

Customer contact details are not required to be collected for customers only on the premises for ordering / picking up a takeaway order.

Please note that members have indicated a number of Police / enforcement officers have been in touch since the Order was released. An enforcement officer who has reasonable grounds to believe that a business is not operating to the requirements outlined in the Order may issue an infringement notice, or impose conditions on the business’ operation and may direct any person who appears to be in charge of the business to close and cease operation. This will be for a period that does not exceed 24 hours after it is given.

Information from the Government on operating at this Level is available here:

A reminder of the rules for hospitality under Alert Level 2:

  • Workers should also stay one metre apart from each other, where practicable.
  • Use a single server per group.  This means each group has one server, though servers can each serve more than one table.
  • Hospitality businesses should keep groups seated.
  • Different groups should be kept one metre apart.
  • Limit the number of people inside at any time so that physical distancing can be maintained – no more than 100 guests.
  • Make sure that people don’t need to queue near other people to enter, pay, or go to the bathroom.
  • Provide good facilities for people to wash their hands thoroughly and regularly.
  • Maintain a contact tracing register with details of everyone that has entered your premises.
  • Delivery, drive-through or contactless pick up by customers is still permitted. Businesses must aim to avoid having people queue, and if they are queueing make sure they’re able to maintain physical distancing.

Jump to section:

In January 2020, Chinese authorities confirmed a new type of coronavirus, known as COVID-19. The World Health Organization declared a global health emergency as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, which is a global pandemic affecting millions.

The outbreak has caused significant challenges and hardship for our members and our aim is to update and provide information and support to members. This support package of information provides some general guidance, however, members can also contact our Helpline on 0800 737 827 with specific questions.

The Government website for COVID-19 is

Covid-19 Alert System

New Zealand has a four-level COVID-19 alert system that specifies public health and social measures to be taken against COVID-19. Our current alert level is 3.

More information is available here: .

Key member-only resources (login to view):

Key points:

  • Employers need to meet/communicate with staff to advise them:
    • what is happening with your temporary business closure
    • timeframes
    • what employees will be paid
    • leave entitlements
  • You will still need to operate in good faith – consultation with your employees is imperative
  • Keep the conversation going with your employees while you are in close down.

We understand this is a distressing time for you, your staff and your families. We are here to help and do what we can to assist you at this time.

Government economic response package

The Government has released an economic response package to help support the economy during the COVID-19 crisis, making changes and additional measures since the package was first announced on 17th March.

Find out more about the Government’s Economic Response Package here.

Wage subsidy scheme

  • The government removed the $150,000 cap per business so that businesses could apply for a wage subsidy for all staff.
  • For businesses that had already applied prior to 23rd March, and had received the wage subsidy at the capped amount, MSD will top this up for the rest of your staff. You do not need to do anything.
  • If you only applied for the wage subsidy up to the capped amount, you can reapply once you have finished using this amount.

Wage subsidies are available for all employers that are significantly impacted by COVID-19 and are struggling to retain employees as a result. The wage subsidies are available for businesses in all sectors and all regions that can show a 30 per cent decline in revenue for any month between January and June 2020 compared to the year before (including projected revenue).

The subsidy is $585.80 per week for a full time employee (20 hrs or more) or $350.00 per week for a part time employee (less than 20 hrs). The payment will be made as a lump sum for a period covering 12 weeks. This means employers will receive a payment of $7,029.60 for a full time employee and $4,200 for a part time employee.

To qualify:

  • your business must be registered and operating in New Zealand
  • your employees must be legally working in New Zealand
  • the business must have experienced a minimum 30% decline in actual or predicted revenue over the period of a month when compared with the same month last year, and that decline is related to COVID-19 
  • your business must have taken active steps to mitigate the impact of COVID-19
  • Businesses accessing the scheme must still undertake best endeavours to pay employees 80% of their pre-COVID income. Where that is not possible – in particular where a business has no activity whatsoever due to the shutdown and workers are not working any hours – they must pass on at least the whole value of the wage subsidy to each affected worker.
  • Businesses must undertake to keep employees in employment for the period of the subsidy.
  • The original sick leave scheme has been folded into the wage subsidy scheme from 27th March.
  • More information on the qualifying definitions is available HERE

Businesses can apply online for the COVID-19 Wage Subsidy HERE. MSD are processing and approving applications as quickly as they can. They aim to make payments five working days after they have all the information they need from you – but this will depend on the volume of applications received. More information, including FaQ’s can also be found on the Work and Income website. 

Leave and self-isolation support – as of 27th March this original sick leave scheme has been being folded into an updated wage subsidy scheme.

Business cash flow and tax measures

More information on tax changes to support businesses is available on the IRD website here. Further tax measures announced on 15th April can be found here:

There are a number of business cash flow and tax measures that have been announced, including:

  • The ability for the Inland Revenue to write-off the interest charged for late payments, also known as use-of-money interest (UOMI).
  • Increasing the provisional tax threshold from $2,500 to $5,000 from 2020/2021.
  • Increasing the small asset depreciation threshold from $500 to $1,000 — and to $5,000 for the 2020/21 tax year.
  • Allowing depreciation on commercial and industrial buildings from 2020/2021.
  • Removing the hours test from the In-Work Tax Credit (IWTC) from 1 July 2020.
  • Measures to support commercial tenants and landlords
  • A tax loss carry-back scheme
  • Changes to the tax loss continuity rules
  • The Government, retail banks and the Reserve Bank announced a major financial support package for businesses and home owners affected by the economic impacts of COVID-19. The package includes a 6 month principal and interest payment holiday for mortgage holders and small to medium sized businesses whose incomes have been affected by the economic disruption from COVID-19.
  • The Business Finance Guarantee Scheme for small and medium-sized businesses was released at the beginning of April. Under the scheme, New Zealand’s major banks are offering Business Support Loans to help businesses meet urgent liquidity and bridging financing requirements due to disruption caused by Covid-19. Because of the risk of taking on additional debt to individuals and small businesses, it is strongly recommended that members speak to their accountant before applying.

Other support for employers:

There is a range of support available for businesses. Here are some useful links:      
Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE)
Ministry of Health

MSD may be able to help in other ways. There are various ways they can help, whether you’re an individual or an employer.

MSD can: 

  • meet with you to talk about your situation,
  • discuss ways to help you retain your staff,
  • co-ordinate with other agencies, eg. Inland Revenue or Careers New Zealand,
  • meet with your employees to talk about what support is available (either one-on-one or group sessions),
  • help your employees with:
    • finding another job 
    • re-training
    • skills assessment
    • financial support. 

MSD have also set up rapid response teams in various regions, and have a fact sheet which includes Labour Market Managers contact information. Please let us know if you need help contacting MSD, call us on 0800 737 827.

Government response / travel restrictions

In response to growing concerns about the spread of the virus, the New Zealand Government closed New Zealand borders. Since 11.59pm 19 March 2020, only New Zealand residents and citizens (and their children and partners) will be permitted to enter New Zealand. 

This includes the Realm countries, Australian citizens and permanent residents ordinarily resident in New Zealand, airline and marine crew.

There will be some exceptions, on a case by case basis, for example for essential health workers, humanitarian reasons, and others. Find out more here.

Since 9th April the requirement for 14 days of quarantine or managed self-isolation in a government-approved facility, is a prerequisite for anyone entering the country.

All New Zealanders who were traveling overseas have been encouraged to return to New Zealand. As international air travel is currently at significantly reduced levels, and as most other countries have border restrictions on foreign nationals entering the country, it is now both very difficult to travel, or return to New Zealand. For information on COVID-19 related border restrictions, please check the International Air Transport Association (IATA) website

General health advice

The Ministry of Health website is your best source of information about the Coronavirus:

The website includes information on:

For any coronavirus health advice and information and any questions you have about coronavirus, the Ministry of Health has established a dedicated 0800 Healthline number for health advice and information. The number is 0800 358 5453 – it is free and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

What are the signs and symptoms of COVID-19? Symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to a range of other illnesses such as influenza and do not necessarily mean that you have COVID-19. Symptoms include:

  • fever
  • coughing
  • difficulty breathing.

Difficulty breathing is a sign of possible pneumonia and requires immediate medical attention.

If you have these symptoms and have recently travelled to any country, or have been in close contact with someone confirmed with COVID-19, please contact Healthline (for free) on 0800 358 5453 (or +64 9 358 5453 for international SIMs), or your doctor immediately.

How does COVID-19 spread? Like the flu, COVID-19 can be transmitted from person to person. The scientific evidence confirms that COVID-19 is spread by droplets. This means that when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks, they may generate droplets containing the virus. These droplets are too large to stay in the air for long, so they quickly settle on surrounding surfaces.

Droplet-spread diseases can be spread by:

  • coughing and sneezing
  • close personal contact
  • contact with an object or surface with viral particles on it and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes.

That’s why it’s really important to practice good hygiene, regularly wash and thoroughly dry your hands and practice good cough etiquette.

How do I protect myself and others from COVID-19? You should always practice good hygiene by:

  • covering coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues
  • washing hands for at least 20 seconds with water and soap and drying them thoroughly:
    • before eating or handling food
    • after using the toilet
    • after coughing, sneezing, blowing your nose or wiping children’s noses
    • after caring for sick people.

People with symptoms of acute respiratory infection should practice good cough etiquette (maintain distance, cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues, and wash hands). If you have concerns, you can contact the dedicated COVID-19 Healthline for free on 0800 358 5453.

Additional up-to-date information is also available from the World Health Organization (WHO): 

Business continuity support

Our mobilisation following Covid-19 to help members has included:

Public Advocacy

  • Minister briefings – we are have been in continual contact with Government, frequently meeting with Ministers, MP’s and Government officials to voice our industry’s challenges and inform at the highest levels of the Government.
  • Steering group representation – through representation on several key steering groups, including the MSD Business Leaders Group, we are helping to advise on the industry’s needs.
  • Epidemic Response Committee – in April, CEO, Marisa Bidois, presented to Parliament’s Epidemic Response Committee, outlining the current issues facing the sector, calling for immediate financial assistance and providing recommendations for the government to adopt in the coming weeks.
  • Lobbying – the Restaurant Association has been vocal, calling for support for hospitality businesses devastatingly affected by Covid-19. Our key messages have included:
  • A call for Government to provide relief for business in the form of a business continuity package.
  • Advocating for food businesses to be able to continue to operate in Level 4 for contactless food delivery to help with the overloaded essential services provided by the supermarkets
  • Urgent action requested on leases and rent relief for small businesses
  • Temporary variation to alcohol licences request, to allow businesses with on-licences to have off-licence sales with food delivery
  • Call to cap third party delivery party commission rates.

Industry voice

  • Media coverage – we have been speaking to the media every day on the needs and challenges of our industry. Since February the Restaurant Association has appeared in over 400 articles and news items.
  • CEO, Marisa Bidois has conducted more than 100 interviews for radio and TV and has also featured on facebook and Instagram live sessions.

Restaurant Association hospitality recovery taskforce

  • The Restaurant Association Hospitality Recovery taskforce brings together leaders in the industry to help formulate a direct response to the current crisis, helping to rebuild a strong and resilient industry.

Increased on the ground support

  • Legal and business advice – the Restaurant Association’s 24 hour/7-day helpline has undoubtedly been the biggest source of ongoing hospitality-specific support in New Zealand during the COVID-19 pandemic, experiencing an increase in demand of up to 500% in some periods of the emergency. Additional Restaurant Association membership services include legal support, human resources, payroll, business mentoring and marketing advice.
  • Access to on-the-ground support – to ensure our member businesses who indicated they were struggling, could get in-house support as soon as possible we increased the mobilisation of our ground support staff – initially on the road, but through remote assistance once lockdown started.
  • Emergency memberships – the Association instigated the roll-out of emergency Restaurant Association memberships for member businesses that are severely impacted by COVID-19.

Industry insights and research

  • Covid-19 survey series – since February, the Restaurant Association has been gauging industry sentiment and the challenges members are facing through our series of Covid-19 member surveys. These surveys provide a direction from the industry, helping us to identify the industry’s immediate needs and the development of new resources and support material. Member feedback also provides us with clear direction in our discussions with the media and the Government, strengthening our ability to advocate for the best outcomes for our members.
  • Regional MeetMe / member briefings have been held throughout the lockdown as an opportunity for the industry to connect with others, discuss the regional challenges and help to plan for the future.

Training & Webinar series

  • Lockdown online training academy – over the lockdown period and into Level 3 and 2, the Restaurant Association has been offering free online learning. We have featured both local and international experts from the industry.
  • Leveling up your Service – this 2 week online training series included topics like dealing with tricky customers, service training basics, maintaining calm in a busy section and wine list secrets from a Sommelier, through to creating an excellent guest experience.
  • Covid-19 webinar updates – our weekly Covid-19 Updates provide essential information on the current operating environment with guest speakers from MSD, Immigration NZ, IRD, MBIE, MPI, Mental Health Foundation and the Restaurant Association’s helpline.

Information support

  • Covid-19 support package – a dedicated online resource bringing together key information for members, the Covid-19 support package has essential up-to-date guidance on navigating through Covid-19.
  • Member resources – over 40 new resources – essential guides, signs and templates to help members to manage their businesses and their employees throughout this time, located here.
  • Daily e-updates – provided throughout the Covid-19 emergency, daily Covid-19 member e-updates keep members informed.
  • Operating guidelines – the Worksafe–endorsed Restaurant Association Operating guidelines for Hospitality businesses at Level 3, and Level 2 guidelines were created through collaboration with key industry stakeholders and Government agencies.
  • FaQ’s – an online portal houses weekly FaQ’s in topic areas that include, the wage subsidy, tax, immigration, rent / landlord discussions, employment and more.

Member Marketing

  • #DineoutTakeout campaign – launched at Level 3 for #takeoutnz, and continued into Level 2, the #DineoutTakeoutnz marketing campaign encourages the public to eat local and continue to support their local hospitality businesses. Go to for more information.
  • Dinefind – relaunched during lockdown, this dining directory website,,  exclusively promotes member businesses.

Government assistance:

Businesses affected can access government support through the Regional Business Partners programme to help businesses around the country with practical advice on issues such as payroll and liaising with Inland Revenue on tax payments. Cabinet has also established up to 16 rapid response Ministry of Social Development teams to assist with immediate needs such as helping move workers into other employment and referring those in need of further support to other government agencies.

The Government announced the implementation of a Business Continuity Package on 17th March to help support the economy through the disruption caused by COVID-19. Since then they have made a number of additional measures. Click here for more information about the Government’s full economic recovery package.

Other business considerations:

Our business mentor, Tony Adcock recommends:

Banks: Get in contact with your bank if you’re experiencing cash flow issues, especially in regards to loans repayments or lack of funding. They might be able to help or put you in touch with someone who can.

Mortgage Holiday Repayment Scheme: Retail banks have agreed to a mortgage holiday repayment scheme for those affected by Covid-19. The six-month principal and interest payment holiday for mortgage holders and small business customers whose incomes have been affected by the economic disruption from Covid-19 is available now. Talk to your bank for more information.

Westpac support for coronavirus affected customers: ​​Westpac NZ is offering support to customers financially affected by the global outbreak of coronavirus. The relief package features a range of possible support options for both business and personal customers. These may include:

  • deferring capital repayments on business loans (interest only) for 3 months
  • temporary overdrafts to address immediate cash flow issues and
  • deferred payment of business Credit cards to assist businesses. (COVID-19 Policy)

In addition to the above, Customers experiencing loss of income, reduced income or illness as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic are able to apply for a (Choices) home loan or personal loan repayment deferral for six months.

Customers requiring access to term deposit funds should also get in touch to discuss options.

As part of the Government’s Business Finance Guarantee Scheme, Westpac is offering Business Support Loans (BSL’s). Key details about Westpac’s BSL’s to be aware of:

  • Business Support Loans are available to existing customers only
  • Customers must have an annual turnover $250,000 – $80,000,000
  • Customers can register to apply for a loan under the scheme from tomorrow – eligibility, and terms and conditions will apply. Details can be found here
  • Registrations will be subject to a credit approval process

Anyone who has been affected should call Westpac on 0800 606 606 to discuss their individual needs. Small Business Customers can check their eligibility and complete a registration form for the Business Support Loan on Westpac’s website here.

Insurance: Unfortunately standard business insurance offered by local and offshore insurers usually have a specific policy exclusion called “Infectious / Contagious Disease” which means that any loss or damage or business interruption loss in connection with a notifiable infectious disease is specifically not covered.  Some exceptions include travel insurance where the policy was in place prior to public notification. Check with your insurer if you need clarification.

IRD: Tax relief and income assistance is available to people affected by the downturn in business due to the Coronavirus COVID-19. There are a range of ways the IRD can help, depending on your circumstances. You may be able to make an estimate or re-estimate of provisional tax or if you’re having difficulty paying outstanding tax, you may be able to set up an installment arrangement. Find out more here.

Worksafe: Advice on workplace readiness for novel coronavirus is available on the Worksafe website:

WorkSafe expectations about COVID-19: The emergence of COVID-19 across the globe has created a new work health and safety risk that businesses need to manage. Worksafe expect all businesses to:

  • follow the latest Ministry of Health advice about preventing COVID-19 and to promote good hygiene practices at work
  • identify and manage any emerging risks brought about by the COVID-19 situation. For example, changes in consumer demand may impact worker health and safety, and supply issues for worker personal protective equipment (PPE).

Worksafe also expect workers to take care of their own health and safety, and the health and safety of others, while at work. This means following and cooperating with any reasonable health and safety instructions, policies and procedures they’re given.

You can also view the Health & Safety section of this page for more information.

Idea hub:

Requiring hospitality businesses to close currently has created incredible challenges for the industry. At Level 1 or Level 2 alert, there are still some opportunities in the market and with the view that we will return to these levels at some point in the future, below, we look at some of the ways you could instigate change and potentially tap into a new market of customers.

LEVEL 1, 2 or 3 opportunities:

Takeaway Options / Sidewalk pick-ups

Only applies if New Zealand is at Alert Level 3 or below and must be contactless delivery or kerbside pick up at Level 3. If you’ve not had a takeout menu available before, this is potentially an opportunity. Think about what items in your menu could translate into a takeout menu, or you may need to think about adding new items specifically targeting this market. Customers still want to eat out but, enable them to take it away with them.

Restaurant businesses responding to these fears and restrictions are also implementing ‘kerb-side’ pick-up and/or drive-up options for takeaway orders. This encourages people to still head to their favourite local without the need to leave the perceived protection of their own surroundings, like their car, and limit their interactions with others.

Heat and Eat Meals

Only applies if New Zealand is at Alert Level 1 or 2: Heat and eat meals could be a great way to reach those that are self-isolating, or those who don’t want to cook every night in an attempt to avoid public spaces or ‘unhealthy’ takeaway meals. This could be the start of a new venture or at least diversifying your business to help you through this disruptive period. In Seattle, fine dining restaurant, Canlis, did this, diversifying and creating three new dining options including a family meal service. In New Zealand, we are also seeing restaurants adapting for this market, including Auckland restaurant, Paris Butter, which is creating Paris Butter To Go meals – French classics to enjoy at home.

Delivery Services

Only applies if New Zealand is at Alert Level 3 or below: One of the first things that comes to mind when deciding how to respond for those that are avoiding being in public spaces, is delivery. If you are not already using a delivery service, consider whether you can redeploy existing staff temporarily to create your own delivery service. This will help to keep your staff busy even if your reservations are down. There are some steps to take to implement, but the Restaurant Association can provide guidance and has sample templates, for instance a vehicle policy template, that you can utilise.  Download the Restaurant Association Sample Motor Vehicle Policy here (This is a member-only resource, so login before you download)

It’s also not overly expensive to print removable decals, or magnetic signs, for cars and can be a cheap and new way to market your establishment.

Consider marketing options to generate demand initially, eg. free delivery over $X.

Implement a clear table policy

Only applies if New Zealand is at Alert Level 1 or 2: Emphasize all that you are doing to ensure the health and safety of your customers and communicate this. Reduce the perception that items in your restaurant could have been exposed to viruses. Leave tables empty (no cutlery, serviettes, salt and pepper, etc.) till guests have sat down. Bring cutlery to the table with the meal. This shows customers the handling process of these items and removes some of the unknowns around whether they could have been contaminated by other guests.

Look at changing the layout of the room to remove some tables, or increase the distance between them, to show you’re adapting to allow for social distancing.

Specials for those who dine in

Only applies if New Zealand is at Alert Level 1 or 2: Promote dining in specials to encourage people to come in, increase awareness of your off-peak dining times to encourage customer to break out and dine in. Work with your suppliers to create special offers and add-on’s for diners.

Increase your digital presence

Many initiatives rely on social channels to help spread the word. If you are not already an expert in this space, now is the time to increase your online marketing. Tempt all those staying at home scrolling on their social feeds with irresistible pics of your dishes and menus. Promote your delivery or takeaway service. While you are closed, use your database of previous customers to remind them of your restaurant and their past enjoyment.


Offer customers the opportunity to purchase digital gift vouchers, this will get you cash in the bank and see customers returning in the future. Vouchers are a great gift idea, so there are still opportunities for voucher sales even when the number of people dining out is currently reduced.

Invite ideas

Involve your team members as they may have some great ideas as well. You could also talk to other businesses and see if there are any opportunities to collaborate with them on initiatives. At times like these all ideas are worth considering, and someone might have a little gem of an idea they just need a little bit of encouragement to voice. Consider upcoming dates like Mother’s Day – is there anything that your business can do this year, so that people can still celebrate occasions in this different world?

Employment advice:

Unfortunately, the legal and practical issues associated with coronavirus and employment are not straightforward. We are now in an unprecedented environment but good faith still applies, however, time will now be of the essence for your communications and process.

You need to communicate with your employees to advise and discuss the temporary closure and stay connected with them. We know you will be worried about your businesses, your staff and what happens next. Below are some of the resources you will need at this time. Keep the conversation going with your employees when you are in close down.

Key resources (these are member-only resources, so login before clicking on the links):

Other key considerations:

  • Keeping talking to staff and provide information if they request it.
  • Stay in touch with employees over the period of the lockdown.
  • Make sure that there is a clear point of contact within the business for employees to address queries
  • Record any agreements made with employees in writing

Questions regarding the wage subsidy: Many questions to the Helpline currently are around the Wage Subsidy scheme and this guideline answers many of those questions: Employer Obligations for Payments and Template letter to use for Employees. Further information is also available on our FaQ’s page and on the Work and Income Covid-19 Employer Support page here.

What if I need to look at restructuring my business? The Restaurant Association Helpline team can provide information and guidance on restructuring situations and have prepared a package of information, including a guide and accompanying templates. Download the Restaurant Association restructure pack here (this is a member-only resource, so ensure you login to the website first).

Please remember that the Restaurant Association is here to support you and your business as well. This includes the Helpline advice, as well as business mentoring and marketing advice.

Members are encouraged to call the Restaurant Association Helpline on 0800 737 827 for advice on managing the current situation, or planning for the future, in your business.

Food Safety advice

While hospitality businesses are currently required to be closed, the following information provides useful background to managing food safety around the COVID-19 outbreak.

New Zealand Food Safety, in conjunction with the wider Ministry for Primary Industries, Ministry of Health and international organisations, is closely monitoring developments around the COVID-19 outbreak. For information and updates about food safety and 2019 Coronavirus (COVID-19), and New Zealand Food Safety’s guidance for food handlers and food businesses, visit

Can the virus be transmitted through food? Experience with recent acute respiratory diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) suggests that people are unlikely to be infected with the virus through food. There isn’t evidence to date of this happening with the 2019 Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Coronaviruses cannot grow in food – they need a host (animal or human) to grow in. Cooking for at least 30 minutes at 60°C kills SARS, which is a similar coronavirus.

Coronaviruses are most commonly passed between animals and people and from person-to-person contact.

The source of the COVID-19 virus is believed to be animals, but the exact source is not yet known.

The virus is commonly transmitted through direct mucous membrane contact by infectious droplets, e.g. breathing in airborne virus from the sneeze of someone who is infected, or through hand to mouth/nose contact after fingers have touched a contaminated surface.

Investigations in China are continuing to identify the source of the outbreak and ways it can be transmitted to people.

What can food handlers do? It is possible that infected food handlers could introduce the virus to the food they are in contact with by coughing and sneezing, or through hand contact. However, this is unlikely to occur if food handlers in food businesses and in the home follow standard, good personal hygiene practices that reduce the risk of transmission of most foodborne illnesses. These practices include:

  • proper hand hygiene
  • safe food practices
  • cough/cold hygiene practices
  • avoiding close contact, when possible, with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.

Food handlers must wash hands (even if they have no disease symptoms):

  • before starting work
  • before handling cooked or ready-to-eat food
  • after handling or preparing raw food
  • after handling waste
  • after cleaning duties
  • after using the toilet
  • after blowing their nose, sneezing or coughing
  • after eating, drinking, or smoking
  • after handling money.

Good hygiene and cleaning will also prevent cross-contamination between raw or undercooked foods and cooked or ready-to-eat foods in the kitchen or service area.

It is important that food handlers inform their employer, avoid preparing food for other people, and seek medical advice if they think they have symptoms of respiratory illness.

Employers may ask staff to stay home until after medical advice is given. Similarly, if staff have been overseas to affected regions or in contact with persons who have, they should inform their employer and seek appropriate medical advice.

What can food business owners/managers do? It is unlikely that COVID-19 can be transmitted through food, and there isn’t evidence to date of this happening. Usual good hygienic manufacturing practices and thorough cooking for cooked products will minimise the risk of transmission for any foodborne illness.

Employers still have an important role to play in preventing foodborne illness. They should:

  • ensure staff are aware of the COVID-19 issue
  • stay informed of staff who have been overseas to affected regions or in contact with persons who have, and seek appropriate medical advice
  • ensure that food handlers are trained appropriately in food hygiene practices appropriate to their premises
  • ensure effective supervision of food handlers to reinforce hygienic practices
  • ensure that appropriate facilities are provided for hand washing or sanitation (e.g. alcohol gels/wipes) to enable food handlers to practice good hygiene
  • ensure that food handlers and external contractors are aware that they must report any signs/symptoms of respiratory illness before or during work
  • keep vigilant and ensure that food handlers and other staff are not ill and are fit to work
  • ensure that staff with symptoms stay home until medical advice is obtained
  • fully support staff through access to medical advice and during convalescence.

Health & Safety advice

Covid-19 Safety Plan – WorkSafe Requirements: You need to self-assess your ability to operate safely at Alert level 2. This includes thinking about how you’re going to manage risks and protect workers and customers. You also need to discuss and share the plan with everyone at work – including workers, contractors, and suppliers.

The Alert Level 2 key controls for work and workplaces are to:

  • keep people with COVID-19 symptoms off the premises
  • maintain physical distancing
  • enable good hygiene practices
  • keep track of people who enter the premises.

The purpose of planning is to ensure:

  • effective implementation of COVID-19 controls, and
  • the health and safety of workers and other people isn’t put at risk from changes that are made to work arrangements because of this pandemic.

As you’re thinking about what working at Alert Level 2 means for how you operate, you need to consider how you’ll implement these infection controls. Remember that you must continue to meet HSWA requirements as well as COVID-19 public health requirements.

It’s important that you discuss your approach to operating safely at Alert Level 2 with your workers and their representatives. WorkSafe recommend you talk with workers about which controls you’ll use at this level and how this may differ from what you did at Alert Level 3. This means your workers will understand how you intend to manage work safely and what they need to do to help. Think about what processes you might put in place to update and implement suggestions from workers and their representatives.

Covid-19 Safety Plan Content: You are no longer required to have a COVID-19 safety plan. But WorkSafe recommend you document your Alert Level 2 approach so it can be shared with others, including customers or clients.

Note: the questions and prompts are general and apply for all businesses. You may also need to consider other things depending on your circumstances and the nature of your business.

  1. How will you manage the risks of restarting part or all of your operations at Alert Level 2? Key things to consider include:
  • Will you have the right people with the right skills to operate safely? This could be affected by having some workers unavailable to work or needing to use different team rostering arrangements.
  • Will you need to clean or ensure appropriate hygiene arrangements before occupying work spaces?
  • Will there be maintenance required for machinery and tools that haven’t been used for weeks? For example, vehicles’ warrants of fitness may have expired, or equipment may require a new compliance certificate or servicing.
  • When did you last have your ventilation system or air-conditioning checked? Are you confident that it is working efficiently? Now is a good time to schedule cleaning and maintenance.
  • What else needs to be done at work before you can safely restart all or part of your operations?

You might not identify anything that needs to be addressed, but it’s important your workers can see that you’ve thought this through. Talk about it with them – they may think of something you’ve overlooked

2. How will you ensure all workers are able to keep themselves safe from exposure to COVID-19? Your workers will be able to suggest effective ways to share information with them. This is particularly important if you have workers for whom English isn’t their first language.

3. How will you gather information on your workers’ wellness to ensure they are safe and well to work? At Alert Level 2 you still need to be vigilant about the possibility of COVID-19 transmission at work. You continue to need to ensure workers who are unwell or suffering symptoms consistent with COVID-19 don’t come into contact with other workers or customers/clients. If workers have COVID-like symptoms, they shouldn’t come back to work until they have either recovered or have been tested and cleared from having COVID-19 and are no longer symptomatic. 

The symptoms are:

  • a new or worsening cough
  • a high temperature (at least 38°C)
  • shortness of breath
  • sore throat
  • sneezing and runny nose
  • temporary loss of smell.

Check in regularly with workers to ensure they’re well. You could supplement this with a system that provides a self-symptom check for workers and other people before they enter the workplace. Your system needs to ensure that other people who don’t routinely work there are also screened. WorkSafe recommends daily checks.

4. How will you operate your business in a way that keeps workers and others safe from exposure to COVID-19? At Alert Level 2 PCBUs should continue to manage the risks of COVID-19 transmission at work by:

  • keeping people with COVID-19 symptoms off the premises
  • maintaining physical distancing
  • enabling good hygiene practices
  • keeping track of people who enter the premises.

5. How will you manage an exposure or suspected exposure to COVID-19?

6. How will you check to see if your work processes and risk controls are effective?

7. How do any changes impact on the risks of the work you do?

More information and guidance on helping to answer the above questions, and a WorkSafe Template Covid-19 Safety Plan template can be found here.

Numerous obligations are owed by a Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU), which includes an employer. This requires you to protect workers health, safety and welfare from hazards and risks that arise in their workplace.

Obligations, include, but are not limited to, PCBUs owing a duty of care to eliminate where possible, and if not minimise, risks to health and safety, so far as reasonably practicable, for workers that undertake work for the PCBU, where it is directed by the PCBU.

A worker is someone who does work, in any capacity, for a business. This includes someone who does work as:

  • An employee
  • A contractor or subcontractor, or someone employed by one
  • Someone employed by a labour hire company who is assigned to work in the business
  • An apprentice or trainee
  • An outworker
  • Someone getting work experience or doing a work trial
  • A volunteer worker

You need to manage the risks you create as part of the work of the PCBU. If you use a contractor, then you must consult, cooperate and coordinate activities and agree on who will take the lead on managing risks based on who has the ability to control and influence.

Duties can overlap in a shared workplace where more than one business and its workers control and influence the work on site. Example: A small coffee cart business operates inside a garden centre. Because the coffee cart operates on the same premises as the garden centre, the two businesses will have overlapping health and safety duties. Duties cannot be transferred from one person and/or business to another.

Duties can also overlap in a contracting chain, where contractors and subcontractors provide services to a head contractor or client and don’t necessarily share the same workplace.

The Restaurant Association helpline team has produced the following resources which are available for members (note these are member-only documents and you will need to be logged in to access). They will need to be updated as situations change and some of these health & safety resources will only be applicable again after the lockdown and businesses have reopened (eg the guidelines for customers and cleaning guideline):

Other resources available:

Practical member resources relating to the closedown:

Please note that our resources are templates only, and that you need to consider the individual requirements of your business, risks that are specific to your workplace, and eliminate these risks so far is reasonably practical. In the event that it is not reasonably practicable to do so, then the PCBU needs to minimise the risks so far as reasonably possible.

Posters and other assets, including social media images available on the Ministry of Health website here and the HPA website here.

Health & Wellbeing

This is a very difficult time for many people and it is important that we all take note of our own health and wellbeing, as well as those of your staff. Many of us are feeling distressed and it is normal to experience symptoms of stress in this time. However, if over days and weeks your distress or stress symptoms are escalating or you feel you are not coping, help and professional support is available:

  • Restaurant Association members and your staff can access a professional service to help if they are experiencing personal or work-related difficulties. This service is provided by an independent company called EAP Services Limited, and their professionals are all qualified, registered and experienced EAP specialists. Find out more here.
  • The Restaurant Association has also created, in collaboration with the Mental Health Foundation, specific resources on mental health and wellbeing, which are available here. Resources available include:
  • Tip card: A How-To on having mental health conversations in your workplace
  • Why talk about mental health at work?     
  • How to have a conversation about mental health
  • Helplines and Local Mental Health Services
  • A Guide for Managers: Let’s make mental health part of the conversation
  • Frequently asked questions about mental health
  • Managing Employees’ Mental Health Issues
  • Incorporating Wellness into your Life in Hospitality
  • Five Ways to Wellbeing at Work Toolkit
  • For support with grief, anxiety, distress or mental wellbeing, you can also call or text 1737 to talk with a trained counselor at the Mental Health Foundation, for free, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Tips for managing your own mental wellbeing

  1. Spend time in places that feel safe and comfortable as much as possible.
  2. Tell yourself that how you are feeling is a normal reaction and will pass – it is nothing to be afraid of.
  3. Reach out to your usual supports – family and whānau, friends and workmates. Sharing how we feel and offering support to others is important.
  4. Keep to usual routines – mealtimes, bedtime, exercise and so on.
  5. Keep active – going to work, doing usual leisure activities and seeing friends can improve general wellbeing and help distract from distressing feelings.

Advice from Immigration New Zealand regarding visa applications:

Immigration New Zealand understand visa applicants and current visa holders may have some questions about their specific circumstances. Please click here for information and FaQ’s around work visas that may address your concerns.

An Epidemic Management Notice relating to immigration matters came into effect from 2 April 2020. This may have some impacts on visas of people in New Zealand and rules around detention.

People with a work, student, or visitor visa with an expiry date of 1 April 2020 or earlier and who are unable to leave New Zealand must apply online for a new visa. An interim visa will be issued. 

People with a work, student, visitor, limited or interim visa with an expiry date of 2 April to 9 July 2020 inclusive who are in New Zealand on 2 April 2020 will have their visas extended to 25 September 2020. Confirmation of extensions will be emailed to all visa holders. Find out more here.

Food Banks

If you have perishable food please see your local food bank:

What foods do we rescue?

  • Fresh produce
  • Frozen or fresh meat (excluding raw chicken)
  • Dairy products, including milk
  • Eggs
  • Frozen foods
  • Pre-packaged foods or meals in unopened, original packaging
  • Catered food that has not been served
  • Sandwiches, bread and bakery products
  • Non-alcoholic beverages

What food don’t we rescue?

  • Food that is no longer fit for human consumption due to decay or spoiling
  • Food that is past its ‘Use By’ or ‘Expiry’ date
  • Cooked food not prepared in a commercial kitchen
  • Catered food that has been served (on a buffet or similar)
  • Shellfish and other high risk seafood
  • Raw chicken
  • Food in damaged or open packaging which may compromise food safety
  • Foods or beverages containing alcohol
  • General rubbish e.g. cut scraps, vegetable peelings


KIWI HARVEST –  – 0800 601 609

LOVE SOUP – Auckland, Whangarei, Tokoroa and Rotorua 

SALVATION ARMY – – Contact with the local centre will see the food being distributed to local communities where it will be of the greatest support.

CLICK HERE for a list of contacts for various food banks across the country

This continues to be a rapidly evolving issue and it is not possible to predict what will happen in the coming weeks. We do not know how long the country will be at different Alert Levels or how long the disruption to international visitation is likely to last. We don’t know how long the recovery period might be but the Association is here to support you throughout.
Please stay in touch with the Association (0800 737 827, if you have concerns or questions regarding your business.

The Restaurant Association has taken all reasonable care to ensure that the information materials contained on our website are true and correct at the time of publication. The information provided is general information only, and is not intended to constitute legal advice. Therefore, the Restaurant Association accepts no responsibility for any loss, errors or omissions which may arise pertaining to such reliance.

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