News & Views
Aug 20

COVID-19: Can your business operate at Alert Level 4?

The COVID-19 Public Health Response (Alert Level Requirements) Order (No 9) 2021 (Order) came into force at 11:59 pm on Tuesday, 17 August 2021. Returning all of New Zealand to the strictest level of lockdown.

Last year, the essential business list, published by the Government and updated frequently, caused a degree of confusion. This time, the Government’s “Doing Business At Alert Level 4” guidance provides additional details and seeks to mitigate the confusion caused last time.

Businesses must close during Alert Level 4 unless the business is an “Alert Level 4 business or service” and operates in compliance with the Alert Level 4 requirements. There are thirty (30) categories of “Alert Level 4 businesses or services” (which are able to continue operating) listed in Schedule 2 of the Order. The Schedule helpfully specifies, in respect to each category, whether clients/customers are allowed in the workplaces, whether a reduced physical distancing rule applies (i.e. 1 metre) and any other additional conditions. These provisions are subject to certain exemptions, which is discussed further below.

Guidance on the Government’s COVID-19 website has clarified that of the 30 categories listed in Schedule 2, only the following businesses can remain open to the public during Alert Level 4 and have customers on their premises:

  • Court or tribunal
  • Pharmacy
  • Supermarket
  • Dairy
  • Emergency service
  • School hostel
  • Liquor store
  • Petrol station
  • Foodbank
  • Accommodation service
  • Self-service laundry
  • Hardware store, for trade customers only
  • Health service, or an entity involved with the deceased or producing health sector materials
  • Parliamentary services
  • Transport and logistics service, including passenger transport by road, rail, air or sea


The Order does not prevent a business from continuing “minimum basic operations” required to:

  • Care for animals
  • Maintain the condition or value of, or clean, the premises, or any plant, equipment, or goods in the premises;
  • Receive stock or freight (including livestock)
  • Enable workers to work, or to continue to work, remotely from their homes.

The Order also does not prohibit businesses from preparing the premises for opening (and to meet public health guidance).

Support for businesses

There are various financial support packages available for businesses at this time. If you need assistance understanding or identifying how any of these support programmes may apply to your business, with making applications or the compliance requirements that may follow, please get in touch with our Commercial team or your usual Timpany Walton contact. 

Helpful links:

  • South Canterbury COVID-19 Support Team Business AssistanceThe South Canterbury Chamber of Commerce is the official South Canterbury Covid-19 Response Team for business advice and funding support.
  • Official COVID-19 website – This website has everything you need to know about Covid-19 in one place. Find out what help is available and get the latest updates.
  • Ministry of HealthThis section provides the latest updates, information and advice on COVID-19, as well as information in other languages and formats.