Last Friday, New Zealand left the Alert Level framework to adopt the Traffic Light system. Now that we have had a few days to adjust to the new system, we have a better understanding of the Traffic Light system and what it means for businesses.
However, the rules and regulations in this area and the generally accepted interpretation of them are rapidly changing. Additionally, these rules and regulations are necessarily complex and may require professional interpretation for your specific situation. We recommend for up to date general advice you check MBIE’s website, or if you have any specific questions about your situation you contact your usual advisor at Godfreys Law.
Red Traffic Light
At Red, action is needed to protect people at risk and the health system from an unsustainable number of hospitalisations. Record keeping and scanning are required. Face coverings are mandatory on flights, public transport, in taxis and ride shares, retail, education, and public venues.
Essential services will be able to operate without requiring vaccination certificates. Other places, like close contact businesses and gyms, will not be able to operate at Red without vaccination certificates.
Auckland, Northland and parts of the central North Island are currently in Red.
Orange Traffic Light
At Orange, there is pressure on the health system due to community transmission. Record keeping and scanning are required. Face coverings are mandatory on flights, public transport, in taxis and ride shares, education, and public venues.
Essential services will be able to operate without requiring vaccination certificates. The same as Red, other places, such as close contact businesses and gyms, will not be able to operate at Orange without vaccination certificates.
The rest of New Zealand are currently in Orange.
Green Traffic Light
At Green, community transmission is limited, and the health system is ready to respond.
Record keeping and scanning are required. Face coverings are mandatory on flights and encouraged indoor.
All businesses and services will be able to operate without vaccination certificates providing they implement other procedures to mitigate the risk of the spread of the virus.
COVID-19 Vaccination Certificates
Those who hold a valid COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate or are unvaccinated because they are under the age of 12 years and 3 months are COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate compliant.
At Red, Orange and Green, businesses that are COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate compliant must display their COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate status and have systems and processes to ensure that each person is carrying a COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate.
At Red, some COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate compliant businesses must adhere to some additional requirements. For example, cafés and bars will need to have a fixed capacity limit (either less than 100 people or the maximum number of people who could use the space while keeping 1 metre away from each other) and ensure that customers adhere to seating requirements. Other businesses that do not have seating requirements, such as gyms, will only need to have fixed capacity limits.
Businesses can choose to alternate between operating under COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate compliant rules and non-COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate compliant rules. These businesses must display their COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate status and ensure that each person is carrying a vaccination certificate, but they will also need to adhere to other requirements. For example, at Green, close-proximity businesses and services must ensure workers wear face coverings, have systems in place to comply with one metre social distancing. If social distancing is not possible, the business must implement procedures (such as regular cleaning of surfaces) to mitigate the risk of spreading the virus. At Orange and Red, close proximity businesses must have systems and processes to prevent customers entering the workplace due to higher risk of spread of the virus.
Recent Changes to Food and Drink Service Guidelines
Although staff at takeaway food and drink businesses were required to be vaccinated, changes have been made to the official Food and Drink Service Guidelines. These changes mean that a business that solely operates to provide takeaway food or drink, employees do not need to be vaccinated. Additionally, if businesses choose not to ask for vaccination certificates they can operate as a takeaway, provided they are able to operate contactlessly.
For all other businesses, employers will be unable to continue unvaccinated workers’ employment under the Traffic Light System unless:
- The employee has a legal medical exemption (as provided under the Vaccinations Order).
- The employee is not an “affected person.” An affected person is a worker who is employed to carry out specified work (s 5 (1) COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020).
- The terms and conditions of employment can be altered so that the employee will no longer be an “affected person.”
If these conditions cannot be met and redeployment is not possible, you must provide four weeks’ paid written notice.
Your usual employment law obligations still apply, and, as always, we recommend seeking professional legal advice before acting.
What Godfreys Law is doing
At Godfreys Law we are not currently enforcing vaccine certificates to enter our premises, however we reserve the right to change this at a future time. We therefore still require all visitors to our office to wear masks and sign in on entry. If you are unwell, or would prefer to meet remotely, we have Zoom and Microsoft Teams facilities available.
If you have any questions about your specific situation, or our service under the traffic light system please contact us on (03) 366 7469.