COVID-19 Alert Level update

Parts of Waikato are at Alert Level 3. This will be reviewed on Friday 22 October.

Auckland is at Alert Level 3, Step 1. This will be reviewed on Monday 1 November 2021.

Standard Alert Level 3 restrictions for public sector workplaces apply. All those in an Alert Level 3 area who can work from home should work from home.

The rest of New Zealand is at Alert Level 2.

See some frequently asked questions about this guidance and further guidance on vaccination roll-out.

Find out more about the current Alert Levels on the Unite Against COVID-19 website.

Overview

These workforce guidelines assist public sector agencies to comply with the public health and social measures being taken in response to COVID-19.

In applying these guidelines, it is important that public sector agencies take a consistent approach and model what is expected for the rest of New Zealand.

Complying with all required public health and social measures is the bottom line for all agencies while continuing to provide public services to the fullest extent possible for all New Zealand.

Agencies should continue to engage with staff and unions on planning for complying with the public health and social measures of the COVID-19 response.

Agency chief executives are responsible for deciding how to apply these guidelines in the particular context of their agency.

Guidance on the health and safety and workplace considerations is available from the Government Health and Safety Lead and Government Property Group.

These guidelines will be updated as further decisions are made. Check this website for the latest version.

Current situation

On 18 October 2021 the Government announced:

  • Northland moves to Alert Level 2 effective from 11.59pm on Tuesday 19 October 2021.
  • Parts of Waikato will remain at Alert Level 3. This will be reviewed on Friday 22 October 2021
  • Auckland remains at Alert Level 3 Step 1. This will be reviewed on Monday 1 November 2021
  • Schools in Alert Level 3 areas will not reopen for Term 4 on 18 October 2021. Distance learning continues and students who are currently able to access education facilities will continue to do so. A further announcement will be made on Wednesday 20 October 2021
  • Anyone conducting high risk work in the health and disability sector must be fully vaccinated by 1 December 2021 and have received their first dose by 30 October 2021
  • School and early learning staff and support people who have contact with children and students must be fully vaccinated by 1 January 2022 and have received their first dose by 15 November 2021.

Find out about mandatory vaccinations at the border and in managed isolation, and in the education and health and disability sectors.

Standard Alert Level 3 restrictions apply in parts of Waikato(and Northland until 11.59pm on Tuesday 19 October 2021). Check the Alert Level boundaries for updates.

The rest of New Zealand is at Alert Level 2. This will be reviewed weekly.

The presence of the Delta variant has been a significant development in the COVID-19 pandemic. It is more than twice as infectious as the original virus and appears to be more liable to cause severe disease, requiring admission to hospital. This requires increased vigilance around adherence to public health measures and high levels of vaccination.

All agencies must support the vaccination effort. Our COVID-19 Vaccination Roll-out Guidance supports agencies to give effect to the expectation that all public servants who can be vaccinated are vaccinated.

The Unite Against COVID-19 website provides comprehensive information on all aspects of the COVID-19 response.

Key principles to apply at Alert Level 3 – Auckland region and parts of Waikato

See the boundary map on the COVID-19 website for details.

The priority is to support efforts to restrict the spread of COVID-19. Workers should work from home if they can. Where work is unable to be carried out from home, workplaces can open as long as customers do not enter the premises and there is no physical contact, and all Alert Level 3 public health requirements are met. Limited numbers of workers may be needed in a workplace for work or services that cannot be delivered from home and where this can be done within the requirements of Alert Level 3.

Travel across an Alert Level boundary is restricted. Ensure workers required to travel across an Alert Level boundary have had a COVID-19 test within 7 days of travel. When traveling to a lower Alert Level area you should act as if you are carrying your Alert Level with you.

For those in the Waikato Alert Level area, the current travel restrictions in force at the Auckland boundary apply. However, the testing regime in place for travellers out of Auckland do not apply.

The COVID-19 website has further details on travel across Alert Levels.

Operating safely is critical to stopping the spread. Agencies must meet Alert Level 3, WorkSafe NZ and public health requirements. Agencies will need to self-assess their own ability to do this, just as they would to meet duties under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Operating safely includes physical distancing of one metre in the workplace and two metres if the workplace is open to the public, good hygiene practices such as wearing face coverings, and contact tracing, including use of the COVID-19 tracer app QR codes.

Consistency of safe operation across agencies is important. This gives workers and the public clarity of what to expect from public sector organisations. When assessing your ability to have a workplace open and operating safely, consider the following:

  • The nature of the work and whether any close physical contact with clients or customers is required on the premises. Workers should not be in the workplace if their work requires close physical contact (other than essential services or in emergency or critical situations).
  • How much work can be done from home. Where it can be, it should be.
  • The scale of operational changes that may be needed to meet WorkSafe NZ and public health requirements for work that cannot be done at home. Consider whether these changes are reasonable for your workplace.
  • How you will be able to meet all your usual health and safety obligations.

See further details for Alert Level 3.

Key principles to apply at Alert Level 2 – rest of New Zealand

Workplaces should be open and operating safely. It is important that public services continue to be delivered and to have workplaces open and operating according to Alert Level 2 requirements. Agencies may continue Alert Level 3 arrangements for a short time while planning a careful and progressive return to the usual place of work. Safe operation may need to be different from previous times at Alert Level 2. Consider alternative ways of working to support safe operation.

Agencies must meet Alert Level 2, WorkSafe and public health requirements. Agencies must adhere to legislative and government requirements to operate safely, including implementing controls and measures to meet Alert Level 2 standards for workplaces. This includes having systems in place to ensure each person who enters the workplace scans the QR code or provides a contact record, wearing face coverings in public facing roles or where physical distancing requirements can’t be met, physical distancing of one metre between workers in the workplace, and two metres for other people on the premises, including visitors from other agencies.

Continue to take account of individual employee circumstances. At Alert Level 2 we need to continue to ensure that employees’ personal circumstances are taken into account. This includes being, or caring for someone who is at higher risk of severe COVID-19 illness, or someone affected by public transport limitations. In these circumstances consider alternative ways of working such as remote or shift-based working, rotation of staff, staggering meal breaks and flexible leave to address any pressures on public transport.

Wear a face mask or covering: If you leave your home, please always wear a face covering. Face coverings are legally required to be worn in the public areas of courts and tribunals, local and central Government agencies, and social service providers with a customer service counter. They are also required in businesses and services that involve customer contact, arrival and departure points for public transport services, and on public transport and flights throughout New Zealand. The COVID-19 website has further details.

Agencies should require face coverings to be worn in any public-facing areas and support people to wear face coverings when they choose to. Face coverings should be provided where their use is required in the workplace.

Travel across an Alert Level boundary is restricted. Ensure workers required to travel across an Alert Level boundary have had a COVID-19 test within 7 days of travel. When traveling to a lower Alert Level area you should act as if you are carrying your Alert Level with you.

For those in the Waikato Alert Level area, the current travel restrictions in force at the Auckland boundary apply. However, the testing regime in place for travellers out of Auckland do not apply.

The COVID-19 website has further details on travel across Alert Levels.

Vaccinations: All public servants who can be vaccinated should be. Continue to educate, expect and support workers to get vaccinated in line with our guidance. Agencies should continue to encourage workers who are permitted to work at Alert Level 4 to get priority access to vaccinations.

Special leave: For employees who test positive for COVID-19, or who are identified as a contact of a COVID-19 case and required by public health advice to self-isolate (and cannot work from home) special leave should be provided while they are self-isolating.

See further details for Alert Level 2.


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