updated 9th June, 2020
previous updates: 29th May, 2020, 20th May, 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
We are at Level 1!
Download the Contactless delivery and pick up guide for Level 3 here and Download the Operating your business at Level 2 guidelines for hospitality businesses here
We are excited with the Government’s announcement that New Zealand’s move to Alert Level 1 is effective from midnight 9th June. The announcement was made on the back of the update that New Zealand has no active cases and it has been 17 days since our last case was confirmed.
For hospitality, at Level 1 the requirements around the 3 S’s, contact tracing and gathering restrictions have all been removed. Move the furniture back in and go back to your usual service styles!
Individuals are being encouraged to download the Government Covid tracer app to help record their movements and businesses are encouraged to display their QR codes at their doors so customers can continue to keep a “digital diary”. The Restaurant Association has organised for members to be sent their QR code poster and these should have been received via email.
A reminder of the golden rules under Alert Level 1:
- If you’re sick, stay home. Don’t go to work or school. Don’t socialise.
- If you have cold or flu symptoms call your doctor or Healthline and make sure you get tested.
- Wash your hands. Wash your hands. Wash your hands.
- Sneeze and cough into your elbow, and regularly disinfect shared surfaces.
- If you are told by health authorities to self-isolate you must do so immediately.
- If you’re concerned about your wellbeing or have underlying health conditions, work with your GP to understand how best to stay healthy.
- Keep track of where you’ve been and who you’ve seen to help contact tracing if needed. Use the NZ COVID Tracer app as a handy way of doing this.
- Businesses should help people keep track of their movements by displaying the Ministry of Health QR Code for contact tracing.
- Stay vigilant. There is still a global pandemic going on. People and businesses should be prepared to act fast to step up Alert Levels if we have to.
- People will have had different experiences over the last couple of months. Whatever you’re feeling — it’s okay. Be kind to others. Be kind to yourself.
COVID-19 ALERT SYSTEM
Jump to section:
- Covid-19 Alert System
- Government economic response package for Employers
- Government response / travel restrictions
- General health advice
- Business continuity support
- Idea hub
- Employment advice
- Food safety advice
- Health & Safety advice
- Health & Wellbeing
- Other business considerations
- Advice from Immigration New Zealand regarding visa applications
- Useful links
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 ongoing 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 recovery is https://uniteforrecovery.govt.nz/.
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 1.
More information is available here: https://covid19.govt.nz/government-actions/covid-19-alert-level/ .
Key member-only resources (login to view):
- Employer Obligations for Payments and Template letter to use for Employees
- Letter to PROPOSE payment options for employees, on temporary closedown of business
- Letter to CONFIRM payment options for employees, on temporary closedown of business
- Business interruptions guide
- Business restructure pack – 4 phase guidelines and letter templates
- Guideline for lease discussions and landlord letter template
- Closedown – practical checklist
Government economic response package
The Government has released an economic response package to help support the economy during the COVID-19 crisis and in recovery, making changes and additional measures since the package was first announced on 17th March.
Wage Subsidy and Leave schemes
Wage Subsidy Scheme
The initial Wage Subsidy Scheme aimed to help employers to keep their staff employed and ensures an income for affected employees for up to 12 weeks (through to 9th June, 2020), even if the employee is unable to actually work any hours. It is also available to sole traders and contractors. More information and how to apply(external link)
Wage Subsidy Extension
A Wage Subsidy Extension payment is available to support employers, including sole traders, who are still significantly impacted by COVID-19 after the Wage Subsidy ends.
The Wage Subsidy Extension is available to employers for eight weeks, between 10 June 2020 and 1 September 2020, so you can keep paying your employees. It will be paid to you as a lump sum at the same weekly rate as the Wage Subsidy:
- $585.80 for people working 20 hours or more per week (full-time rate)
- $350.00 for people working less than 20 hours per week (part-time rate).
Employers can apply for the Wage Subsidy Extension once you have finished paying your employees the original 12 week Wage Subsidy.
To be eligible, your business must have had a revenue loss of at least 40% for a continuous 30 day period. This period needs to be in the 40 days before you apply, but no earlier than 10 May 2020, and must be compared to the closest period last year. COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Extension(external link)
COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme
The COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme provides a payment to businesses to pay their workers who need to take leave due to COVID-19 public health guidance. COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme(external link)
Business Finance Guarantee Scheme
Small and medium-sized businesses may be eligible for the Business Finance Guarantee Scheme to protect jobs and support the economy to recover. Participating approved banks will provide targeted new loans or increase limits to existing loans for eligible businesses, to help them recover. Information about the Business Finance Guarantee Scheme(external link)
Business cash flow and tax measures
Inland Revenue has information on a range of measures to help businesses as they recover. These include:
- greater flexibility for taxpayers in respect of statutory tax deadlines
- changes to the tax loss continuity rules
- a tax loss carry-back scheme
- measures to support commercial tenants and landlords
- further business consultancy support.
Small Business Cashflow Loan Scheme
Inland Revenue will provide interest-free loans for a year to small businesses as they recover from the impacts of COVID-19.
The Small Business Cashflow Loan Scheme will provide assistance of up to $100,000 to firms employing 50 or fewer full-time equivalent employees.
Loans will be interest-free if they’re paid back within a year. The interest rate will be 3% for a maximum term of five years. Repayments are not required for the first two years.
Insolvency relief for businesses
The Companies Office offers relief for companies and other entities facing difficulties in complying with their statutory obligations, or obligations under their constitutions or rules, as they recover from the impacts of COVID-19.
The COVID-19 Business Debt Hibernation scheme allows businesses to place their existing debts on hold for up to seven months to help them start trading normally again.
Company directors facing significant liquidity problems can also seek a safe harbour from sections 135 and 136 of the Companies Act 1993.
Information on how you can access the insolvency relief and the requirements that you’ll need to meet is available on the Companies Office website.
Financial support tool
You can use the financial support tool to find out what financial help may be available to you.
The tool will take you, step by step, through a series of questions to find out your personal circumstances:
- your work status, for example, employer
- your situation, for example, business is unable to operate
- whether your workplace has reduced business.
The tool will then tell you what financial help and support you could access, and where you can apply or find more information.
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.
- 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
- 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) have been permitted to enter New Zealand. At Level 1, strict border restrictions remain in place.
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: https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus
The website includes information on:
- the current status in New Zealand,
- Latest advice: Symptoms, prevention, treatment, how it spreads & more
- Contact tracing
- Face mask and hygiene advice
- Home care information
- Managing your mental wellbeing
- Questions and answers
- and access to posters in English and Chinese.
- The Ministry of Health also have guidance for self-isolation: https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov/novel-coronavirus-self-isolation.
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:
- 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):
- Questions and answers https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses
- Emergency preparedness, response https://www.who.int/csr/don/en/
- WHO Twitter account https://twitter.com/WHO
- Advice for international travel https://www.who.int/ith/2020-0901_outbreak_of_Pneumonia_caused_by_a_new_coronavirus_in_C/en/
Business continuity support
Our mobilisation following Covid-19 to help members has included:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- #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 www.dineouttakeout.co.nz for more information.
- Dinefind – relaunched during lockdown, this dining directory website, www.dinefind.co.nz, exclusively promotes member businesses.
Other business considerations:
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: https://worksafe.govt.nz/topic-and-industry/work-related-health/workplace-preparedness-for-novel-coronavirus/
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.
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 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
Applies if New Zealand is at Alert Level 1-3 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
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.
Applies if New Zealand is at Alert Level 1-3: 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
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
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.
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?
Unfortunately, the legal and practical issues associated with coronavirus and employment are not straightforward. We are in an unprecedented environment but good faith still applies.
Below are some of the resources you will need at the different Alert Levels.
Key resources (these are member-only resources, so login before clicking on the links):
- Employer Obligations for Payments and Template letter to use for Employees
- Letter to PROPOSE payment options for employees, on temporary closedown of business
- Letter to CONFIRM payment options for employees, on temporary closedown of business
- Business interruptions guide
- Business restructure pack – 4 phase guidelines and letter templates – this pack contains information and guidance on restructuring situations and have prepared a package of information, including a guide and accompanying templates.
- Guideline for lease discussions and landlord letter template
- Closedown – practical checklist
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
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 www.mpi.govt.nz/coronavirus-and-food-safety/.
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
At Alert Level 1 most public health requirements for businesses and services to prevent COVID-19 spreading are no longer required.
What you need to do at Alert Level 1
You need to enable good hygiene practices for your workers. You can also choose to support good hygiene for your customers and clients by providing hand sanitiser for their use (always follow safety instructions on the label).
You don’t need to:
- maintain physical distancing between workers or workers and groups of customers or clients
- limit the size of gatherings
- keep contact tracing records.
The Ministry of Health is asking businesses to help workers and customers or clients maintain their own contact tracing records by displaying the Ministry of Health’s NZ COVID Tracer QR code at their premises.
Talk to your workers about operating safely at Alert Level 1
It’s a good idea to discuss your approach to operating safely at Alert Level 1 with your workers and their representatives. This gives them the opportunity to help identify how to manage work safely and their role in that.
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):
- a sample health & safety policy and email template to introduce the policy for COVID-19 .
- sample health & safety signage for customers (stay away if sick) for COVID-19
- sample health & safety signage for customers (what business is doing) – COVID-19
- a sample health & safety policy for suppliers for COVID-19
- COVID-19 cleaning and hygiene guidelines
- a sample email update for customers to outline what the business is doing – COVID-19
Other resources available:
- HPA infosheet – How to protect yourself and others
- HPA infosheet – What is contact tracing?
- HPA infosheet – How is COVID-19 spread
- Ministry of Health Poster – Protect yourself and others from coronavirus – Chinese
- Ministry of Health Poster – Protect yourself and others from coronavirus – English
- Business interruptions guide
- COVID-19: Guidelines for hospitality establishments on physical distancing and gathering size limits
- Guest Register template
- Guideline for lease discussion & landlord letter template – COVID-19
- Proposed temporary employment agreement variation for COVID-19
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.
Health & Wellbeing
This is continuing to be 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
- Spend time in places that feel safe and comfortable as much as possible.
- Tell yourself that how you are feeling is a normal reaction and will pass – it is nothing to be afraid of.
- Reach out to your usual supports – family and whānau, friends and workmates. Sharing how we feel and offering support to others is important.
- Keep to usual routines – mealtimes, bedtime, exercise and so on.
- 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.
Additional useful links:
- Ministry of Health
- MSD / Work & Income
- Mental Health Foundation
- Regional Tourism Organisations
- Tourism New Zealand
This continues to be an evolving issue and it is not possible to predict what will happen in the coming months. We do not know how long the country will be at different Alert Levels, of if we will go back into one of the other 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, firstname.lastname@example.org) 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.