As of 11:59pm on Sunday 23rd January 2022, New Zealand shifted to the red traffic light setting following confirmation of community transmission of the Omicron variant.
The red traffic light setting is similar to the orange setting which we entered on 3 December 2021. We have summarised the differences below:
- Face covering rules now apply to tertiary education premises, registered schools (for visitors and students in years 4 – 13), and licenced early childhood services (for visitors);
- Covid-19 Vaccine Certificate (“CVC”) rules now apply to tertiary education providers (except for secondary-tertiary programmes and school learning programmes) with the 1-metre physical distancing rule applying if the tertiary education provider uses CVCs and the 2-metre physical distancing rule applying the tertiary education provider does not use CVCs;
- Capacity limits for events, gyms, and food and drink businesses have reduced to a maximum of 100 people (subject to the 1-metre physical distancing rule) if CVCs are used
- Capacity limits for gatherings have reduced to
- a maximum of 100 people (subject to the 1-metre physical distancing rule) if CVCs are used; or
- a maximum of 25 people (subject to the 1-metre physical distancing rule) if CVCs are not used; and
- Food and drink businesses must comply with seating requirements.
Aside from these changes, and upcoming changes to the face covering rules announced yesterday, the settings at Red are the same as they were under Orange.
We understand that the upcoming changes to the face covering rules will come into force at 11:59pm on Thursday, 3 February 2022. However, the Government has not yet published the Order that will create these rules.
Preparing for Omicron
We encourage employers to prepare for cases of Omicron in their workplace. Preparation could involve:
- Reviewing your Covid-19 health and safety risk assessment and reconsidering your risk mitigation strategies and controls in light of any changes to your risk assessment;
- If you have introduced a COVID-19 vaccination policy, considering what your policy says about booster doses in light of the latest public health advice;
- Contingency planning for staff members becoming infected with COVID-19 or being required to isolate for up to 24 days (including considering working from home arrangements, how you could prioritise and reallocate work, and how employees will be paid during isolation).
Of course, it is important to engage with your workers while developing the risk assessment, risk mitigation strategy and controls, and contingency plan for your business.
If you would like to know more about how this shift from level orange to red may affect you and your business specifically, please get in touch with our Employment Team.