New Zealanders have a high expectation that the Government will lift the Level 4 lockdown from mid-night on 22 April 2020.
The Finance Minister has given an indication that under a Level 3 scenario “safe” businesses may be allowed to operate provided they can meet certain criteria.
On 16 April, at her daily briefing, the Prime Minister announced further details of what the country might look like under a Level 3 response to COVID-19. No decision has been made (at the time of preparing this blog) to move to Level 3.
Individual businesses should be well into their preparation for how they might operate under Level 3 and Level 2. The Government has indicated it will only be giving two days’ notice of any lifting of Level 4, so in order to move to a Level 3, or lower, operating model businesses needs to be ahead of the game with their preparation.
Under Level 3, there will still be restricted contact with others. While in certain circumstances a bubble may be extended to include another bubble, that extended bubble has to be exclusive and cognisant of any person who has been able to return to work and/or who may have contact with a vulnerable at-risk person. The message is still predominantly stay in your bubble and primarily we are still expected to stay at home and save lives.
The business model moves from one of essential work only to now being able to undertake “safe work”. However, even with “safe” work, where this can be done at home, the expectation is that the work is done at home. Otherwise, “safe” work is where workers are able to work while maintaining social distancing of 1 to 2 metres from each other, the business has a mechanism for recording who has entered the workplace, and there are good hygiene and cleaning practices in place.
Most, but not all businesses can start to open under Alert Level 3. They must take health measures to keep their workers safe.
Workers must work from home if they can
Workplaces must operate safely – keeping one metre between workers, recording who is working together, limiting interaction between groups of workers, disinfecting surfaces, and maintaining high hygiene standards
Retail and hospitality businesses can only open for delivery and contactless pre-ordered pick up – customers cannot enter stores
Supermarkets, dairies and petrol stations can continue to allow customers into their stores, with the same restrictions and measures in place as Alert Level 4
Businesses cannot offer services which involve face-to-face contact or sustained close contact (e.g. hairdressing, massage, house cleaning, or door-to-door salespeople)
Other in-home services can be delivered if it is safe to do so (like tradespeople for repairs or installations) – keep two metre separation from those in the house
Most workers will not require PPE to stay safe at work. Incorrectly used PPE can create more risk. Good hygiene measures like hand washing with soap and water, physical distancing, sneeze and cough etiquette, and wiping down surfaces is the best defence against COVID-19.
The Government will be providing more detailed guidance for sectors over the coming days. In the meantime it is recommended that you check the Government's Covid19 website for more information on Level 3 and also for information on what is expected under a Level 2 and Level 1 scenario.
Finally, the Prime Minister has indicated that when New Zealand moves to Alert Level 3, we can expect to stay at that level for at least one cycle (14 days). The Prime Minister also stated that it is better to stay at Levels 4 and 3 longer to ensure that we don’t find ourselves moving back to Level 4 again. On this basis we can expect a minimum of two to four weeks at Level 3.
Photo courtesy of Marten Bjork on Unsplash.com