Q&A: What does Alert Level 3 mean for your business?

The Government’s Alert Levels are here to stay in 2021, so it’s important that businesses familiarise themselves with the ins and outs.

Unite Against COVID-19 has provided rules and parameters for businesses to ensure they are prepared. We also have a Q&A on Alert Level 2 here.

Looking for COVID-19 Financial Support? Click here. 

Who can open?

  • At Alert Level 3, everyone should work form home if they can.
  • Businesses that require close physical contact cannot open. 
  • All other businesses can operate, but with restrictions. This includes physical distancing, having extra hygiene measures and contactless options for ordering, pick-up, delivery and payment. If your business does not have measures in place to operate safely, then you should close.

Businesses that cannot open at Alert Level 3

  • Farmers markets
  • Nightclubs
  • Entertainment and tourist facilities — for example, museums, cinemas, libraries and outdoor adventure activity operators
  • Hairdressers and beauty salons
  • Gyms and exercise facilities
  • In-home cleaners
  • Door to door sales
  • Driving instructors.

Golden Rules for business at Alert Level 3

  • If your business requires close physical contact it cannot operate.
  • We recommend staff work from home if they can.
  • Businesses need to display a QR code and have an alternative contact tracing system. We recommend you make sure that people either scan in or provide their contact details. 
  • Customers cannot come onto your premises — unless you are a supermarket, dairy, butcher, fishmonger, greengrocer, petrol station, pharmacy or permitted health service.
  • Your business legally must be contactless. Your customers can pay online, over the phone or in a contactless way. Delivery or pick-up legally must also be contactless.
  • Basic hygiene measures legally must be maintained. Physical distancing, handwashing and regularly cleaning surfaces. Workers legally must stay home if they’re sick.
  • Staff legally must remain a minimum of 1 metre apart at all times where practical. We recommend other measures, such as PPE including face coverings, be used where appropriate.
  • Different advice applies to essential healthcare workers, border agencies, courts and tribunal staff, first responders and corrections staff. You can get further advice from the Ministry of Health.
  • You legally must meet all other health and safety obligations.

Be contactless

Your business legally must be contactless. Your customers can pay online, over the phone or in a contactless way. Delivery or pick-up legally must also be contactless. 

Customers cannot come onto your premises — unless you are a:

  • supermarket
  • dairy
  • butcher
  • fishmonger
  • greengrocer
  • petrol station
  • pharmacy
  • a health service
  • bank or financial institution —  in person customer transactions can only happen if online or phone banking options are not possible.
  • hardware or DIY store— these can open to trade customers only.

Customers cannot eat or drink on your premises.

If you own or run a business where staff cannot work home, make sure:

  • employees keep 1 metre apart. 
  • you provide hygiene and cleaning products so workers can clean and disinfect shared surfaces, and wash and dry their hands.
  • you display your QR code and have an alternative contact tracing system for people who cannot access a smartphone.
COVID-19 Resurgence Support Scheme

How to do business safely

Under Alert Level 3, there are restrictions to keep workers safe, limit interaction with customers and help prevent the spread of COVID-19. We recommend staff work from home if they can.

We recommend businesses self-assess their ability to meet these restrictions and operate safely, just as they would normally to meet their duties under the Health and Safety at Work Act. Government agencies will not make these decisions for businesses.

Travelling in or out of an Alert Level 3 area for business

Travel across Alert Level boundaries is strictly limited to stop the spread of the virus. You may need to seek additional permission to complete travel across Alert Level areas.

If there is an Alert Level boundary, we will publish information on this website about which travel is permitted.

Businesses providing necessities

Businesses providing necessities, such as supermarkets, pharmacies, dairies and petrol stations can operate under Alert Level 3.

Any business providing necessities should minimise, or eliminate if possible, physical interactions among staff and with and between customers ensure appropriate health, hygiene and safety measures are in place.

For example, dairies and petrol stations can remain open at all Alert Levels, if they can operate safely. At Alert Level 3, prepared food and drink can be bought and sold, but we recommend not allowing customers consuming these onsite.


All goods can be delivered, including food. We recommend the delivery be contactless. Alcohol can be delivered if the business has an off-licence.

In-home services

You can provide certain services in home, provided physical distancing and other public health guidance is observed. However, we recommend not having house cleaning.

Contact tracing at your workplace

On 22 August, 2021, the Government announced that recording keeping will become a requirement for people aged 12 and over at all Alert Levels for busy places and events. This is so contact tracing can happen quickly and may help prevent Alert Level changes. Learn about mandatory record keeping here. 

To enable contact tracing all businesses, workplaces and public transport operators legally must display an NZ COVID Tracer QR code for each location and provide alternate contact tracing systems. 

Get more information about what your business needs to do

Get your QR poster

Business support

The Government has a number of options for businesses affected by COVID-19 and the ensuing Alert Levels. 

You can view all the options on our COVID-19 page here. 

Scroll to Top