Covid-19 FAQ’s

We’ve compiled some of the most frequently asked questions from during the Covid 19 pandemic. This page is currenlty being updated to include curent information for the Omicron surge in 2022

The FaQ’s on this page are in the following sections:


Covid-19 Support & Payments – 2022

What is considered a “highly seasonal business” in relevance to the CSP?

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We’ve had a number of members considering the ‘highly seasonal business’ criteria when applying for the new Covid support payment. IRD say that highly seasonal is considered to be “where a business has obvious season(s) in their business activity. It is not considered that a business that has income that ebbs and flows but that is earned throughout the year is highly seasonal.”

Members will need to consider the nature of their business, plus how and when income is earned to determine if they are highly seasonal and be prepared to show this if required.

If a business is not highly seasonal you must use a typical 7 day period in the comparator period available (currently 1 January 2022 to 15 February 2022, with the additional date period comparing to last year due to be available for comparison by 14 March). 

[APPLY FOR THE CSP HERE]

In February 2022 the Government announced that the Small Business Cashflow Loan (SBCL) will increase to $20,000. Is it true that only businesses that have applied and repaid the original $10,000 would be eligible to apply for the additional amount?

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This is correct,  employers that have drawn down through the original SBCL can draw down a second loan, if they still meet eligibility criteria and have repaid the original loan in full. New SBCS borrowers, and those that have already paid back their loan in full before 31 December 2023, can borrow up to the new maximum amount as a lump sum, or, as up to 4 instalments before the end of the scheme. The first 2 years of the loan will be interest-free from the date the loan is made available to them (further draw downs do not start a new interest-free period).

Can I apply for the Short-Term Absence Payment if my employee is taking a RAT?

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You are not eligible for the Short-Term Absence Payment when your employee takes a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) because the results are quick. The Short Term Absence payment is only for when awaiting the results of a test that require you to isolate, such as a PCR test. However, if your employee tests positive you will be able to consider applying for the Leave Support Scheme.

Mask Wearing

Are all staff required to wear medical grade masks?

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At this stage, only public facing staff must wear medical grade masks.

What about chefs and back of house staff? 

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Any employees who are working in the back of the house, in areas that are closed to the public, do not need to wear a mask. All other employees who are working in public facing roles must wear a medical grade mask. 

Are three layered cloth masks sufficient?

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All public facing staff must wear medical grade masks.

Do mask exemptions still apply in regard to the new mask rules?

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Yes. People who have a physical or mental illness or condition, or disability that makes wearing a face covering unsuitable are exempt from the requirement to wear a mask. Businesses may ask whether customers are able to wear a face covering and view any mask exemption document. However, it is inappropriate to ask people to provide personal health information. More information on mask exemptions is available on Unite Against COVID-19 website. You can also find more of our  FAQ’s on the Covid-19 Hospitality hub here.

Financial Support

What financial support is available for staff who are self-isolating?

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You will need to apply for the Covid-19 Leave Support Scheme. To be eligible for a one-week payment of Leave Support Scheme your employee will have been advised to self-isolate for at least four consecutive calendar days. If your employee needs to keep self-isolating for at least 11 calendar days or more and can’t work from home, you can apply for a second week payment of the Leave Support Scheme. You can apply for third and subsequent Leave support payments for every further seven days of self-isolation.

If your business is unable to operate due to the large number of staff isolating, does the subsidy cover all staff, including those without covid?

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The Covid-19 Leave Support Scheme is available for anyone who has been told to self-isolate. This doesn’t depend on returning a positive Covid test. We continue to ask for further support for our industry for this situation – should this happen. We are also putting together some resources to allow businesses to share staff when able. We will send you these as they become available. 

Can we ask employees to provide written evidence of the request to isolate?

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It is reasonable to request an employee provide some form of evidence as to the direction by the government/health care practitioner/Healthline to self-isolate. This will ensure that you apply for the right leave for them.

What if an employee decides to get tested of their own accord?

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They may have symptoms or been advised by their medical health practitioner to take a test. You can apply for the short-term absence payment while they are waiting for a result.

When do I pay sick leave?

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When an employee is sick, they use sick leave entitlement. Sick Leave is not paid in addition to any other Covid-19 related payments (such as the Covid-19 Leave support scheme).  Sick leave is deducted if the employee is sick, regardless of whether the pay is from the Covid-19 Leave scheme or any other government assistance, or from the employer themselves. 

Traffic Light System

Are guests required to wear masks at gatherings/private events?

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Face masks must be worn when attending a gathering — except where you have exclusive use of the venue, including weddings.

Can we serve buffets for gatherings with exclusive use of the venue?

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Hospitality rules do not apply to gatherings in an exclusive venue. You can serve buffet’s if the guests have exclusive use of the venue and have hired the venue for a purpose. 

Are dancing and music allowed for exclusive use of venue gatherings?

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Yes

Must takeaway only customers present a vaccine passport when picking up orders?

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No. Takeaway customers who are unvaccinated, must pick up their order from a separate entry/place from those that are vaccinated but do not need to show their vaccine pass.

Vaccinations

When does the booster mandate apply to the Hospitality industry?

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The booster is not currently mandated, we will keep you informed if this changes.

Q. What changes have been announced on mandatory vaccinations in business?

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Cabinet decided (26 October 2021) that vaccinations will be mandated for everyone who
works in any workplace where a vaccine certificate is required for entry. This includes hospitality and events businesses. This came in to force on December 3 2021.

Q. Will an employee be required to inform their employer of their vaccination status?

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Workers can choose whether they want to tell their employer if they are vaccinated.
However, if they do not share this information, and they are doing work that requires
vaccination, this could have employment consequences. This is because their employer can
then treat them as unvaccinated. In these situations, employers must inform workers of this
assumption, and what it would mean for a worker’s employment.

Q. What happens if an employee is unvaccinated, but is doing work that will require
vaccination?

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Employers must consider options like redeployment before giving an employee notice of
termination. However, there may be instances when there are no options for redeployment,
and other options like taking leave or working from home are not realistic. In these situations, the government has introduced a requirement for unvaccinated employees to be given four weeks’ paid notice. Employers must still go through a formal process and consultation. Employees must be provided a reasonable chance to be vaccinated before the end of this notice period.

Q. When will mandatory vaccinations for workplaces come into being?

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The mandate came into force on December 3 2021, all staff had until January 17 to have their second dose to become fully vaccinated.

Q. Are we required to provide paid time off for workers to get vaccinated?

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Yes, the new legislation includes provisions for paid time off for employees to get vaccinated. This change ensures all employees can get vaccinated during work hours. It will help any employees for whom time off is a barrier to getting vaccinated.

Contact Tracing and Record Keeping

Q. Do I need to have a contact trace register if I am displaying the QR code poster?

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Yes, you must have systems and processes in place to otherwise support contact tracing for people who do not scan in with the NZ COVID Tracer app (such as a pen-and-paper private drop box or a digital sign-in system).

Q. What happens if a business doesn’t have the poster on display?

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From 19th August 2021 a Business can be fined for not displaying an official COVID Tracer App QR Code.