Covid-19: Click here for the latest Covid-19 information for the horticulture industry.

Covid-19

Last updated: 14/9/2021

This webpage has the latest information about operating during Covid-19 for the New Zealand horticulture industry.

All of New Zealand outside of Auckland is now at Alert Level 2.

Auckland remains at Alert Level 4.

 

Sign up for HortNZ's Covid-19 newsletter                            View HortNZ's Covid-19 newsletters 

 

On this page:

Guidelines for operating at Alert Level 4
Guidelines for operating at Alert Level 3
Travel Documents / Exemptions
> MPI's Remote Verification Check Sheet
> Freight
> Financial support
Key links and resources

 

Guidelines for operating at Alert Level 4

Industry operating within Auckland are required to continue operating under Alert Level 4 protocol.

Previous protocols and expectations around workplace bubbles, 2 metre distancing and the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) are a minimum and must be followed. Essential workers seeking to cross either of the Auckland boundaries will also be required to provide proof of a Covid-test, effective 11.59pm, Thursday 9 September.

Below is a guide for the horticulture sector operating at Alert Level 4.

Click here to download MPI's guidance.  

Guidelines for operating during Alert Level 4

Auckland remains at Alert Level 4 until further notice.

Businesses detailed below can operate at Alert Level 4:

  • Primary industries (food and beverage production for both domestic consumption or export, plus the relevant support services) and veterinary and animal health and welfare services. It also includes businesses transporting freight.
  • Pest management services, key elements of pulp and paper plants and solid fuel.
  • Services involved in diagnostics for critical businesses or services like biosecurity, food safety, or public health.
  • Independent retailers and greengrocers cannot open at Alert Level 4, but are permitted to operate contactless delivery services. 

A complete list of businesses permitted to operate can be found here.

  • Wear a mask at all times for the greatest protection and effectiveness. Wear your mask to and from work, at work and any time you leave your home 'bubble'
  • Strengthen workplace bubbles. Be mindful of how staff travel to and from work and avoid congregations of staff during break times
  • Physical distancing is a minimum of 2 metres. Maximise the distance between staff where possible. If staff are within 2 metres of one another and are using Perspex screening, masks must also be worn
  • Consider reducing workplace density so that there are fewer people on site to help with social distancing and to mitigate risks
  • Clean and disinfect workplace surfaces regularly
  • Check and maintain ventilation systems to ensure optimum operation and safety
  • Temperature testing is recommended for on-site staff and visitors, along with contact tracing systems (e.g. QR codes, contact registrar). Staff with high temperatures must go home
  • If you are unwell, you must stay at home
  • Record keeping/contact tracing is now mandatory. Those responsible for businesses or events must ensure they have record keeping/contact tracing in place at all alert levels - either by having QR codes available to scan or by making a manual record. Read more here.

  • If you are an essential worker, you may use public transport to commute to your workplace, premises or worksite.

  • At Level 4, it is a legal requirement for everyone to wear a face covering on all public transport.

  • Employees who live within an Alert Level 4 region and are travelling to work within that region, are required to provide travel letters in the event that Police stop them. The letters must detail: who the employee is, their role, who they work for and the reason for travel (essential work). A travel letter template can be downloaded below.

  • If you are an essential worker that lives and works within a Level 4 region, you do not need to register with MBIE or carry QR codes.

  • If you are an essential worker that lives in a Level 4 region and needs to travel beyond the regional Alert Level 4 boundaries, you will need to apply for Business Travel Documentation (an exemption) through MBIE to do so. Each worker must carry their individual exemption documents, photo identification and associated QR code whenever they travel from one Alert Level to another.

  • From 11:59pm, Thursday 9 September, essential workers crossing an Alert Level 4 Boundary will need to show proof that they’ve had a test, not proof that they are COVID-19 free. They won’t need to wait for the test results before travelling. See below for more info.

 

Download the Travel Letter template here

Apply for a Business Travel Exemption here

View the Alert Level boundary map here  

Essential workers will need to supply proof of a Covid test before crossing either of the Auckland borders. 

  • Essential workers must provide proof of a Covid test from 11:59pm, Thursday 9 September

  • The test must be taken within the last seven days

  • Proof of this test is in addition to the Business Travel Document all essential workers need to carry when they travel in and out of Auckland

  • No stand-down period applies. That is; an employee is not required to self isolate while the test result is being processed. Employees can continue to work provided they have no symptoms

  • In the event an employee develops symptoms, they must get a Covid test as per Ministry of Health guidelines

  • Testing will be at no cost to the employer or employee

  • Employers must have systems in place to record when essential workers have crossed borders and when they have been tested for Covid-19

  • Employers must also facilitate essential workers to go and get tested during their work hours

  • Government are looking at placing additional testing sites near borders and ways to make the testing of freight truck drivers as easy as possible.

Find your nearest testing site here

 

Grace period

Given it will take time for essential workers to get testing before crossing borders, the Government has agreed to a grace period.

  • Essential workers will have until 11:59pm, Thursday 16 September, to provide evidence of a Covid test 

  • Police will begin their compliance checking on this date, which will involve spot checks and turning people around who do not have evidence of a test

  • Legislation states that testing ‘Proof needs to be written verification provided by the medical practitioner who carried out the test’. However, what form this proof may take is still under discussion. View the legislation here 

 

Anyone aged 12 or over can now book for a free Covid-19 vaccination.

DHBs are working directly with employers to help organise vaccinations for essential workers. 

Use the Book My Vaccine site below to find your nearest vaccination site, and to book a vaccine.

 

Book your Covid-19 vaccination here

If you are a member of the following groups, please visit your product group's site for more specific information on operating at Alert Level 4: 

NZ Apples & Pears

NZ Avocado

Kiwifruit growers

Potatoes NZ

Guidelines for operating at Alert Level 3

Protocols around workplace bubbles, 2 metre distancing and the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) are a minimum and must continue be followed. Movement outside of your region is not permitted. 

Below is a guide for the horticulture sector operating at Alert Level 3.

 

Guidelines for operating at Alert Level 3

The businesses listed below can open under Alert Level 3 so long as they can operate safely and offer services not requiring close personal contact:

  • Essential services are the only businesses that can have customers on their premises. For horticulture, these include: 
    • Supermarkets, greengrocers, butchers, fishmongers, dairies and food banks
    • Primary industries (food and beverage production for domestic consumption or export, plus the relevant support services)
    • Businesses transporting freight
    • Pest management services, key elements of pulp and paper plants and solid fuel
    • Services involved in diagnostics for critical businesses or services like biosecurity, food safety, or public health
    • Passenger services, including public transport by road, rail, air or sea
  • Retail can operate via click and collect, while places such as takeaways, bars and restaurants can operate via delivery, drive-thru or contactless pick up

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

  • Keep physical distancing to a minimum of 1 metre between employees. Maximise the distance between staff where possible
  • Record keeping/contact tracing is now mandatory. Those responsible for businesses or events must ensure they have record keeping/contact tracing in place at all alert levels - either by having QR codes available to scan or by making a manual record. Read more here.
  • Under Alert Level 3, face coverings are legally required:
    • On public transport 
    • On domestic flights 
    • If you are a taxi or ride-share driver. 
  • Encourage workers to wear a face covering if physical distancing is difficult
  • Have personal protective equipment (PPE) available for employees to use  
  • Provide hygiene and cleaning products so workers can clean and disinfect shared surfaces, and wash and dry their hands
  • Display your Covid QR code and have an alternative contact tracing system for people who cannot access a smartphone
  • Strengthen workplace bubbles. Be mindful of how staff travel to and from work and avoid congregations of staff during break times
  • Consider reducing workplace density so that there are fewer people on site to help with social distancing and to mitigate risks
  • If you or an employee are unwell, stay home. There is funding available to support people who have to stay home while awaiting a Covid test, click here for more details.

View the Alert Level boundary map here 

 

Business Travel Documents / Exemptions

  • Under Alert Level 3, your employees can travel locally to get to work (i.e. within the same region and alert level)
  • There is to be no travel across the Alert Level boundary unless the person is an essential worker and they have successfully applied and received Business Travel Documentation (an exemption)

  • Anyone seeking to travel across this boundary will need to apply for an exemption through MBIE

  • You must reapply for Business Travel Documents. You cannot use Travel Documents that you applied for during previous Alert Level changes.

Apply for a Business Travel Exemption here

 

 

Key things to note when applying for an exemption

  • You will require your NZ Business Number as part of the application process.
  • The horticulture industry will need to go through the MBIE system under the Food and Beverage sector
  • A Real Me login will be required
  • MPI has said it will be more difficult to receive an exemption due to the Delta variant being highly contagious.  If you do get declined, please let your product group or alternatively HortNZ know by emailing Covid@hortnz.co.nz 

Essential workers will need to supply proof of a Covid test before crossing either of the Auckland borders. 

  • Essential workers must provide proof of a Covid test from 11:59pm, Thursday 9 September

  • The test must be taken within the last seven days

  • Proof of this test is in addition to the Business Travel Document all essential workers need to carry, when they travel in and out of Auckland

  • No stand-down period applies. That is; an employee is not required to self isolate while the test result is being processed. Employees can continue to work provided they have no symptoms

  • In the event an employee develops symptoms, it is strongly recommended they seek a Covid test

  • Testing will be at no cost to the employer or employee

  • Employers must have systems in place to record when essential workers have crossed borders and when they have been tested for Covid-19

  • Employers must also facilitate essential workers to go and get tested during their work hours

  • Government are looking at placing additional testing sites near borders and ways to make the testing of freight truck drivers as easy as possible.

Find your nearest testing site here

 

Grace period

Given it will take time for essential workers to get testing before crossing borders, the Government has agreed to a grace period.

  • Essential workers will have until 11:59pm, Thursday 16 September, to provide evidence of a Covid test 

  • Police will begin their compliance checking on this date, which will involve spot checks and turning people around who do not have evidence of a test

  • Legislation states that testing ‘Proof needs to be written verification provided by the medical practitioner who carried out the test’. However, what form this proof may take is still under discussion. View the legislation here 

 

Anyone aged 12 or over can now book for a free Covid-19 vaccination.

DHBs are working directly with employers to help organise vaccinations for essential workers. 

Use the Book My Vaccine site below to find your nearest vaccination site, and to book a vaccine.

If you are a member of the following groups, please visit your product group's site for more specific information on operating at Alert Level 4:

NZ Apples & Pears

NZ Avocado

Kiwifruit growers

Potatoes NZ

Crossing Alert Level Boundaries

Anyone seeking to travel across the Auckland boundaries, even essential workers, will need to apply for an exemption through the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE). 

You must reapply for Business Travel Documents. You cannot use Travel Documents that you applied for during previous Alert Level changes.

Employees who live within an Alert Level 4 region that are travelling to work within that same region, should carry a 'travel letter' from their employer, stating who they work for, their job title and reason for travel. You can download a travel letter template below.

Apply for a Business Travel Exemption here

Download the Travel Letter template here

View the Alert Level boundary map 

Testing of essential workers crossing borders

NEW:  Guidance for Employers on Alert Level 4/2 Boundary Testing Regime

NEW:  View saliva testing information for employers here

Testing options (Online)

Testing options (Print)

Employer (Online)

Employer (Print)

Worker (Online)

Worker (Print)

Saliva testing (A3 poster)

Saliva testing (A4 poster)

Essential workers will need to supply proof of a Covid test before crossing either of the Auckland borders. 

  • Essential workers must provide proof of a Covid test from 11:59pm, Thursday 9 September
  • The test must be taken within the last seven days
  • Proof of this test is in addition to the Business Travel Document all essential workers need to carry, when they travel in and out of Auckland
  • No stand-down period applies. That is; an employee is not required to self isolate while the test result is being processed. Employees can continue to work provided they have no symptoms
  • In the event an employee develops symptoms, it is strongly recommended they seek a Covid test
  • Testing will be at no cost to the employer or employee
  • Employers must have systems in place to record when essential workers have crossed borders and when they have been tested for Covid-19
  • Employers must also facilitate essential workers to go and get tested during their work hours
  • Government are looking at placing additional testing sites near borders and ways to make the testing of freight truck drivers as easy as possible.

Find your nearest testing site here

Grace period

Given it will take time for essential workers to get testing before crossing borders, the Government has agreed to a grace period.

  • Essential workers will have until 11:59pm, Thursday 16 September, to provide evidence of a Covid test 
  • Police will begin their compliance checking on this date, which will involve spot checks and turning people around who do not have evidence of a test
  • Legislation states that testing ‘Proof needs to be written verification provided by the medical practitioner who carried out the test’. However, what form this proof may take is still under discussion. View the legislation here 

MPI Remote Verification

MPI is continuing with remote verification at Alert Levels 3 and 4. 

This is being scheduled for businesses that are normally verified by VS.This activity ensures that essential businesses are following protocols and keeping essential workers and the public safe.

With the Delta Covid variant, it is critical that the various horticulture industry protocols are seen as minimum standards. Please go to your product group’s website for your sector’s specific protocol. 

View MPI's Remote Verification Check Sheet here

 

Freight

Advice from the Ministry of Transport is that all freight can move under Alert Levels 3 and 4.

"Freight” refers to any goods that are being carried by road, rail, air or sea. Anything that is already in the transport system is allowed to be moved whether that is “essential” goods or not.

The “transport system” includes ports, distribution centres, freight hubs, postal services, couriers and any services necessary to maintain or service these activities. Premises of any kind are permitted to open to receive freight or stock, employing minimum basic operations only.

View MoT's freight guidance here

 

Financial support

Financial support

The Covid-19 Wage Subsidy August is a payment supporting businesses affected by the move to Alert Level 4 on 17 August 2021.

The Wage Subsidy Scheme allows eligible employers anywhere in the country to apply for support if they expect a loss of 40 per cent of revenue over a consecutive 14-day period between 17 August 2021 and 30 August 2021 (inclusive).

 

Payment rates paid for 2 weeks:

  • $600 a week for people working 20 hours or more.
  • $359 a week for people working less than 20 hours

The wage subsidy is not subject to GST.

 

Wage subsidy eligibility criteria

Revenue test:

  • Businesses must demonstrate at least a 40% decline over the period between 17 August 2021 and 30 August 2021 inclusive (this is the revenue test period), compared to a typical 14-day consecutive period of revenue in the six weeks immediately before the move to Alert Level 4 on 17 August 2021 (this is the default comparator period).
  • Businesses with highly seasonal revenue may compare their revenue over the revenue test period with the same fortnight in either 2020 or 2019 to determine whether they meet the required revenue drop to be eligible. Applicants will need to demonstrate why their revenue is seasonal and why they cannot use the default comparator period.
  • Employers cannot receive the Wage Subsidy for any employees receiving the Leave Support Payment or Short Term Absence Payment.
  • Start-up businesses: can include a fall in projected capital income as revenue for the purpose of an application if certain tests are satisfied.
  • Commonly-owned groups: Groups where one entity employs all the staff, but other entities generate the revenue. This broadly states that the employing entity must claim, and the revenue test must be considered across the business.

 

Evidence:

  • Businesses must prepare and retain evidence to support this declaration, such as records that demonstrate how the decline in revenue was attributable to the move to Alert Level 4 on 17 August 2021. This reinforces the need for businesses to maintain clear evidence of meeting the various requirements as had been noted in previous iterations of the scheme.

 

Employment Law:

  • Businesses receiving the wage subsidy may not make any changes to employment agreements (including to rates of pay, hours of work and leave entitlements), without the written agreement of the relevant employee.
  • Businesses will not unlawfully compel or require any of the named employees to use their leave entitlements for the period they receive the subsidy in respect of those employees. These requirements mirror the clarifications appearing in subsequent iterations of last year’s scheme
  • The applicant must have obtained consent from employees to include them in the application and the sharing of their personal details.
  • Each time an employer reapplies for the Wage Subsidy, they must renew the written consent from the employee
  • The applicant agrees to specific conditions regarding retaining and remunerating the employees for whom they have applied for the subsidy.
  • The employer must endeavour to pay the employee 80% of their usual rate of pay
  • Employers can pay employees a different or lesser rate provided it is agreed upon by the employee. It is suggested that terms are placed in writing, with both parties signing any new agreement
  • Minimum wage is the least you can pay someone who has a contract to work hours in your business
  • Applicants must immediately repay the subsidy if they are no longer entitled to it (e.g., if a predicted decline in revenue did not eventuate).
  • A public register will name those that receive the subsidy

 

How to apply:

The Wage Subsidy Scheme is open for a two-week period via Te Hiranga Tangata (Work and Income). Eligible businesses can apply online here.

The Resurgence Support Payment (RSP) is available to support viable and ongoing businesses or organisations due to a Covid-19 alert level increase toLevel 2 or higher.

The RSP has been reinstated and is now available for businesses that have experienced at least at 30% decrease in revenue or a 30% decline in capital-raising ability over a 7-day period.

Businesses can apply for both the Covid-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme and the RSP.

Payment rates:

  • Businesses can receive up to $1500, plus an extra $400 per employee up to a maximum of 50 full-time employees.
  • The RSP does not have to be applied directly to employees.

 

Tax on RSP:

The payment received is non-assessable for income tax purposes, but equally the expenses it covers are non-deductible.

Applicants that are registered for GST will need to return GST of 3/23rds of the RSP funds received but will be able to claim 3/23rds of any costs covered by the RSP that include GST.

 

RSP Eligibility Criteria:

  • Applicants must have experienced a decrease of revenue or capital-raising ability of at least 30% due to the increase in alert levels.
  • Commonly-owned groups: If the applicant is part of a commonly owned group this 30% decrease in revenue or capital-raising ability also needs to be satisfied across the group.
  • Businesses and organisations (including sole traders) must have been in business for at least 6 months.
  • The business or organisation must be considered viable and ongoing.
  • Charities and not-for-profit organisations may be entitled to the RSP, provided they meet the other eligibility requirements.
  • State sector organisations are excluded from the RSP but can apply to the Minister of Finance for an exemption to apply for the scheme.
  • Income that is received passively – such as interest and dividends, and all forms of residential and commercial rent – is excluded from the measurement of revenue.
  • Business must be physically present in New Zealand.
  • Applicants must be 18 years or older.
  • Businesses and organisations (including sole traders) must have a New Zealand Business Number.

 

Seasonal businesses: 

For highly seasonal businesses and organisations, the comparative revenue period should be a 7-day period that is at a similar point in the seasonal cycle for a year prior to the revenue drop.

Every business or organisation that receives the RSP will be publicly named in a register.

 

Calculating your drop in revenue:

Revenue refers to income generating activity by a business or organisation. Standard accounting principles relating to income recognition apply.

  • For a cashflow business, such as a restaurant, this is likely to be the daily takings.
  • For a business that invoices clients, this will be the activities the business carries out that would entitle it to bill or invoice either immediately or later.

To calculate affected revenue due to an increase in Covid alert levels, businesses and organisations need to measure their revenue over a continuous 7-day period where the first day is on or after the first day of the increased alert level. All 7 days must be within the period of the increased alert level.

 This affected revenue period then needs to be compared against a regular 7-day revenue period that starts and ends in the 6 weeks prior to the increased alert level.

Both the affected revenue period and the comparison period must be calculated retrospectively. The calculations must be based on what has happened, not a forecast of what might happen.

Make sure you keep a record of your calculations, including:

  • Dates of the affected revenue period and comparison period
  • Amount of revenue earned in each period
  • How the revenue drop has been calculated.

 

How to Apply:

The RSP is administered by Inland Revenue (Te Tari Taake). Eligible businesses can apply here.

As part of the application process, businesses will be required to provide their NZ Business Number (NZBN). All registered companies in NZ will have an NZBN but other types of entities may not. Check your NZBN number or apply here. Applications may take a few days to process, so we suggest commencing as soon as possible.

If your business has reduced revenue due to Covid-19 and you employ 50 or fewer staff, you may be able to apply for the Small Business Cashflow Loan Scheme

This is a one-off 5 year loan, with a maximum borrowing amount of $10,000 plus $1,800 per full-time-equivalent employee within your business.

  • When applying for the loan, you need to be able to declare that your business is viable.
  • Your business must have experienced a minimum 30% decline in actual or predicted revenue over the period of a month, compared with the same month last year. You can use the Revenue Estimator Tool to better understand your revenue.
  • Applications are open until 31 December 2023 through myIR. If your business does not have a myIR account, you will need to create one to apply.

Loans will be interest free if they are paid back within 2 years. The interest rate is 3% for a maximum term of 5 years. 

Eligible businesses can apply for the scheme here

The Covid-19 Leave Support Scheme is available for businesses to help pay employees who need to self-isolate and can't work from home. 

Payments are available to help pay employees who:

  • Are sick with Covid-19 and need to isolate until a doctor tells them they no longer need to 
  • Have been in close contact with someone who has Covid-19
  • Are at a higher risk of getting sick from Covid-19
  • Live with someone who is at high risk of getting sick from Covid-19, and a doctor or health professional has told people in the household to isolate to reduce the risk of transmitting Covid-19 to vulnerable household members
  • Have been asked to self-isolate by public health officials
  • Need to stay home and look after a dependent child who needs support to self-isolate.

 

The Leave Support Scheme is paid at a rate of:

  • $600 a week for full-time employees 
  • $359 a week for part-time employees 

 

Eligible employers and employees can apply for the Leave Support Scheme here

The Covid-19 Short-Term Absence Payment is available for businesses to help pay workers who need to stay home while they wait for a Covid-19 test result. 

The payment helps to keep paying employees who cannot work from home and:

  • Need to stay at home while waiting for a Covid-19 test result
  • Need to stay home and look after a dependent child who has been asked to get a Covid-19 test
  • Live with someone who has been at a location of interest and need to stay home while they wait for the person in the household to get a negative test result.

Employees on a casual contract are also eligible for the payment.

 

Short-Term Absence scheme payment rates:

  • A one-off amount of $359 for each eligible worker while they are staying home waiting for test results.
  • The amount is the same for both full time and part time employees.

You can apply for the Short-Term Absence Payment any time, not just when there is a risk of community transmission, or change in Alert Levels.

Apply here.

Wellbeing

During uncertain times like these, your wellbeing is of utmost importance.

If you are feeling overwhelmed about how recent events, announcements or decisions regarding Covid-19 may affect you, your family or business, please get in touch with your product group, or alternatively, reach out to us at: info@hortnz.co.nz, and we will connect you to a support network.

 

The following organisations can also provide support: 

 

How can you and your bubble keep well during Covid-19? 

  • Talk, talk talk. Reach out if you need support
  • Go for a 20 minute walk
  • Drink more water
  • Cook a favourite meal. Eat healthy
  • Write down something you are grateful for
  • Sleep. Establish a good routine and regular sleeping patterns
  • Take time out. Spend half an hour doing something you enjoy
  • Manage expectations. Ensure your expectations of yourself are reasonable during these challenging times. Focus on what you can control and manage
  • Connect. Socialise with your colleagues, friends and whanau in safe and creative ways - Zoom calls, FaceTime, email chains, online games.