Yesterday, the New Zealand Government announced the shift to Level 3 after this long weekend. Level 3 will last at least 2 weeks and will be reviewed on the 11th of May. Level 3 isn’t really the end of lockdown; it is more a case of easing workplace restrictions to allow further people to work. This will provide some much-needed relief for many businesses who have had little or no cashflow for 4 weeks. Not to mention that a bit of online shopping and takeaways will bring a bit of normal into our lives, which will be good for our mental wellbeing, but not so good for our credit cards.
While we remain in Level 4 for the remainder of the week, the Government is allowing business owners to make trips to their workplace to prepare for Level 3 trading. This, of course, must be done in a way where social distancing is strictly maintained.
Per our previous article, there are very strict conditions around being able to trade in Level 3. Social distancing must be maintained at all times and face to face interactions effectively cannot occur with customers. Further measures need to be put into place to ensure that all interactions between people must be able to be traced. Again, we stress that the health and safety requirements for trading through Level 3 are strict. Here is the thorough guidance that the construction industry is using (based on a Government template) and here are some posters and other material for workplaces.
The silver lining for the slight extension of Level 4 is that businesses have a few more days to prepare for trading under the new conditions.
For those of you looking to trade in Level 3, here are our thoughts on some of the things that you should be doing to prepare your business for level 3:
- First and foremost, businesses will need to prepare necessary health and safety procedures and to plan for trading under the new conditions. The starting point for this could be the Government guidelines we refer to above.
- Employees will need to be briefed on the new health and safety requirements and should sign-off that they have read and understood them.
- Businesses need to plan what trading will look like and then take appropriate measures to ensure compliance with Level 3 requirements. These requirements will differ for each business but they could include:
- Appropriate signage will be required for a physical worksite for staff, customers and other visitors to the site.
- Preparing their work sites to ensure that social distancing is maintained. For example, if customers will be collecting goods, there will need to be clear signage about where they can and can’t go and measures like one in, one out might need to be in place.
- Ideally visitors to a workplace will be kept to a minimum, however, steps will need to be put into place to ensure that all visitors are traceable. For a business that operates a click and collect model, the business will need to consider how it will be possible to track the identity of the person who collects the goods and the time they collect them.
- Businesses that sell products should be preparing, testing and refining their digital channels for sales.
- Businesses will also need to plan their distribution – will they use third parties, or their own staff for deliveries?
In a time of uncertainty, one thing we can be certain of, is that couriers and delivery drivers are going to have a couple of busy weeks.
Our message to everyone is to stay safe as we slowly work back towards normality. We want to see activity returning to the economy, we do not want to see activity returning to the spread of COVID-19. Let’s hope that everyone acts smart and save lives and jobs. The last thing we want is to have to return to Level 4.
Across the ditch
Some positive news yesterday that the New Zealand media did not widely report (if at all) is the continued positive data coming out of Australia. Queensland, which has slightly more people than New Zealand, reported NO new cases yesterday, and only 5 the day before. And New South Wales and Victoria, which both have significantly more people than New Zealand, had 7 cases each (compared to 9 in New Zealand). Overall, Australia has fewer cases per capita than New Zealand, a similar mortality rate, and a very good recovery rate. While Australia made a rocky start, it is doing at least as good a job of battling COVID-19 as New Zealand now.
What is happening across the ditch is good news for a couple of reasons, firstly Australia has achieved this in something that looks more like New Zealand’s Level 3, so that should alleviate the concerns that some people have about undoing all the hard work by opening up the economy to an extent. Secondly, this really does open up the possibility of a New Zealand and Australia being able to operate in a bubble of two sooner than might have been expected.