COVID-19 Alert Level Two – what you need to know

Thursday, May 7, 2020

As the number of new COVID-19 cases remains low, details have been released about what COVID-19 Alert Level Two will allow. A decision on whether or when New Zealand will move out of Alert Level Three will be made on Monday, 11 May.

The main message is that Alert Level Two should be a “safer normal”, designed to get as many people back to work as possible and the economy back up and running in a safe way.

Personal responsibility

Bubbles will not be required under Alert Level Two.

However, everyone is expected to exercise a high degree of personal responsibility. People who are unwell, regardless of whether they consider it serious, should stay at home. Physical distancing, good hygiene and contact tracing will be essential.

Anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 should contact her or his doctor or Healthline and get tested. People who are probable or confirmed cases of COVID-19, or who are a close contact of a case, will have to self-isolate for 14 days, or until cleared by a doctor.


Businesses that have been closed will be able to reopen, for both staff and customers. Businesses must maintain hygiene measures, including physical distancing, hand washing and regularly cleaning surfaces.

Businesses that have customers returning to their premises should:

  • have a contact tracing system in place to record everyone on the premises; and
  • maintain physical distancing of 1 metre between groups of customers.

Those businesses that require close contact, such as hairdressers, will need PPE such as masks and gloves.

Restaurants, cafes, and bars can reopen, but must follow the three S’s:

  • Seated: customers must be seated;
  • Separated: each group of customers must be separated; and
  • Single Server: where possible, each customer should have a single server.

Businesses are encouraged to use alternative ways of working if possible. However, this will be up to the workplace. Some businesses may decide to continue to have staff work from home.

Services that are provided on the customers’ premises, for example, cleaning and home help will also be able to resume.


All early learning centres and schools will be physically open under Alert Level Two, including years 11 to 13. Distance learning will be available for those unable to attend school, for example where people are self-isolating.

Tertiary education facilities will be open, but may need to maintain distance learning capability to help manage the physical distancing requirements.


Domestic travel will be permitted under Alert Level Two. Anyone travelling must keep records of what travel services she or he has used, and must keep track of who she or he has been in contact with. Travellers should keep their distance from groups of people they don’t know.

International borders will still be closed. New Zealanders returning home from overseas will continue to be placed in managed isolation for 14 days, or quarantine if they are showing symptoms.


Home gatherings will be able to take place under Alert Level Two, but should be kept small. Public gatherings, whether indoors or outdoors, are limited to 100 people.

Public venues, such as libraries, museums, playgrounds and markets can all reopen, provided that maximum numbers are limited, and physical distancing is enforced.

Events such as weddings, funerals, family events, concerts, religious services and public meetings can all take place, provided public health measures can be maintained. This means that, as well as the limit of 100 people:

  • indoor gatherings should be seated if possible, and should be no more than two hours long;
  • food and drink consumption is permitted, so you can have food at wedding receptions or after a funeral or tangihanga, however, it should be served individually, not from a buffet;
  • physical distancing and infection prevention and control requirements must be met;
  • all gatherings should record attendees to ensure contact tracing can be conducted if necessary; and
  • hospitality guidelines regarding alcohol consumption need to be strictly adhered to.

Any person who has COVID-19 symptoms, or who needs to be in isolation or quarantine for any reason, must not participate in any gatherings or events.

Sport and recreation

Under Alert Level Two, any usual exercise, sport and recreation activities are permitted, provided they can be done safely. This includes activities that were restricted previously, including:

  • walking, biking and hunting on public conservation land;
  • swimming at a public swimming pool;
  • going to the gym;
  • boating and motorised watersports; and
  • hunting during duck shooting season (a start date will be announced).

For sports where it is possible to maintain physical distancing, such as tennis and golf, you should try to keep two metres from other people. Sports that involve close contact are permitted, but only if good contact tracing is maintained for both training and games and good hygiene practices followed before and after.

High-level sporting events, such as Super Rugby and ANZ Premiership Netball can take place at Alert Level Two. Initially, they will happen without crowds at the venues, but they can be broadcast.

An updated summary of the alert levels is available here.

If you have any questions about what an alert level means for you, please contact your Duncan Cotterill lawyer. Click here for contact details.


Disclaimer: The content of this article is general in nature and not intended as a substitute for specific professional advice on any matter and should not be relied upon for that purpose. While we make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this article, this is a rapidly changing environment and the information will be subject to change

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