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Guidance for media organisations during COVID-19 Alert Level 3

News: 23 April 2020

Information for media as an essential service in Level 4 is available. 

Media sector guidance during COVID-19 Alert Level 3

Key points

  • WorkSafe has created guidance about safe working during this pandemic.
  • The focus of the guidance below is now on working safely rather than on designating essential services. It reflects the principles and overall guidance outlined in the Government’s advice on Alert Level 3.
  • All media organisations (including community newspapers and magazines) may operate under Level 3, including the production and delivery of physical product, as long as they can meet the requirements for safely operating under Level 3.
  • Working from home remains the preferred approach for all staff wherever practical.
  • Online and broadcast delivery of content is still preferred given it is a contactless delivery method.
  • Travel restrictions remain under Level 3 and travel should be limited to minimum distances and minimal numbers of staff.
  • At-risk people involved in delivery should take extra safety precautions and discuss with their employer how they can work safely.
  • Delivery of physical products must be contactless.
  • Delivery of newspapers may be used to bundle other non-news items.

Level 3 Guidance

Important note

New Zealand will move to Alert Level 3 from 28 April 2020. All businesses must continue to operate at Level 4 until that time. During Level 3, media no longer have to be classified as an essential service to operate. All media organisations can operate, providing they follow the general COVID-19 guidelines for providing safety and hygiene measures.

At Alert Level 3, everyone must still work from home unless that is not possible. Workplaces can be reopened if the work cannot be done from home and the workplace can operate consistently with public health guidance. However, there cannot be contact with the public.

An overview of how Alert Level 3 will work can be found here at on the Covid-19 website.

WorkSafe has created guidance about safe working during this pandemic. All media organisations are encouraged to read the workplace safety guidance carefully. Particular attention should be paid to developing a Covid-19 safety plan.

The business.govt.nz website provides information regarding workplace restrictions at different alert levels. Businesses should carefully consider how to safely operate at each alert level based on their individual circumstances. This includes working from home wherever possible and meeting all safety requirements where working from home is not possible.

The Ministry of Health also has specific infectious disease control advice workplaces and guidance for all businesses operating under Level 3.

The following guidance is provided by Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage to help the media sector interpret Level 3 requirements.

Introduction

  1. News and broadcast media functions provide an important service during the COVID-19 response under all levels.
  2. Media play an important role in informing New Zealanders at a time when reliable and fast information is vital. The reporting of public health messages to the New Zealand public is critical in order to keep the public informed.
  3. This guidance aims to assist media organisations apply Level 3 requirements to their operations.
  4. This guidance applies during the Covid-19 Alert Level 3 period. It is intended to assist news and media organisations in acting responsibly during Alert Level 3. Further guidance may be issued from time to time as circumstances change.

Principles

  1. The following principles should be read in their entirety and in conjunction with the guidelines below. The principles are organisation neutral and apply to print, broadcast and online media organisations
    1. All news and broadcast media organisations are able to continue their services, but must take all practical steps to reduce movement and ensure safety of staff and public.
    2. Media organisations will abide by all public health measures that are in place at each Covid-19 alert level, as set out on the Covid-19 webpage and determined by authorising agencies.
    3. In providing news and media services, non-physical distribution and delivery (e.g. broadcast and online) is the most effective means of minimising covid-19 transmission and of reaching the majority of the population.  
    4. Where a media organisation can provide a service digitally but would normally provide a printed product, it should carefully consider whether a printed product is required before proceeding with physical delivery. Considerations should include the risk associated with increasing the movement of people and products during this period.
    5. Media organisations need to continue to operate within existing standards (e.g. media principles and broadcast and advertising standards) and are encouraged to be mindful of the mental health of viewers while New Zealand is at Covid-19 Alert Level 3.

Guidelines

Staffing

  1. Consistent with Government’s advice on operating under Level 3, media should maintain the minimum number of on-site staff required for the provision of their services  

Health measures to be vigorously enforced

  1. All media organisations must comply with Government requirements for operating under Level 3.
  2. Health measures must be rigorously enforced at all times for on-site and off-site activities, reporting staff, and production and delivery functions.
  3. Like other businesses, media organisations are obliged to eliminate transmission risks where possible, and where not, to substitute work practices or provide as high a level of control as possible. Businesses are expected to maintain, or create new, practices that meet or exceed the Ministry of Health guidelines as they are updated.
  4. Organisations should keep the mental of their staff in mind throughout this period. The construction industry has produced useful resource for staff on the Mates in Construction website.
  5. In developing a safety plan, organisations should consider the following seven questions (see Worksafe’s website for more information about safety plans): 

    •  Are there any risks arising from restarting your business or a business activity that has been shut down during alert level 4?
    •  How will you ensure all your workers know how to keep themselves safe from exposure to COVID-19?
    •  How will you gather information on the wellness of your staff to ensure that they are safe to work?
    •  How will you operate your business in a way that keeps workers and others safe from exposure to COVID-19?
    •  How will you manage an exposure or suspected exposure to COVID-19?
    •  How will you evaluate whether your work processes or risk controls are effective?
    •  How do these changes impact on the risks of the work that you do?

Reporting staff

  1. Media organisations are expected to follow Covid-19 guidance on domestic travel.
  2. News reporting staff will be allowed freedom of movement to allow for effective coverage and reporting provided they observe health guidance at all times. Numbers of reporting staff should be kept to a minimum.
  3. Health measures are critical for reporting staff. This is to protect both reporting staff themselves and all those they interact with, including key decision makers and other essential services personnel.

Contracted third parties

  1. Where broadcast programming is provided by a contracted third party (a production company), production must take place in accordance with Covid-19 guidelines.

Newspapers and magazines

  1. All newspapers – whether daily or non-daily – may operate under Level 3 and are expected to take strong measures to ensure the safety of staff and the public in accordance with Covid-19 guidelines.
  2. Magazines may operate under Level 3 and are expected to take strong measures to ensure the safety of staff and the public in accordance with Covid-19 guidelines.

Physical product delivery

  1. All practicable measures must be taken to minimise the risk of transmission via printed product.
  2. All usual forms of delivery (whether via bulk drops to supermarkets and dairies, via services like NZ Post, or direct to households) may be used in accordance with Covid-19 guidelines. 
  3. Delivery of physical product should be contactless.
  4. People at higher-risk of severe illness from COVID-19 (e.g. those with underlying medical conditions, especially if not well-controlled, and the elderly) are encouraged to take additional precautions if involved in product delivery. They may work, if they agree with their employer that they can do so safely.

Updated on 18th May 2020