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News and Media Services during COVID-19 Alert Levels

News: 14 September 2021

Auckland is at Alert Level 4. The rest of New Zealand is at Alert Level 2. This will be reviewed by the Government on 20 September 2021. The COVID-19 Public Health Response (Alert Level Requirements) Order (No 10) 2021 is in effect. The Order sets out requirements for regions of Aotearoa at Alert Level 3 and 4. The purpose of the Order is to prevent, and limit the risk of, the outbreak or spread of COVID-19 and to otherwise support the purposes of the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020. 

At Alert Level 4

New Zealanders are required to stay at home, apart from essential personal movement, which is defined in the Order. One of the essential personal movements allows people to leave their homes to provide Alert Level 4 businesses or services, operating in compliance with the Alert Level 4 requirements. 

The Order defines Alert Level 4 businesses and services. Organisations that are not Alert Level 4 businesses or services must close their premises and operate from home. This may include some media services. 

Relevant Alert Level 4 businesses or services covered in the Order are Key Communications, which:

  • means news (including news production) and broadcast media; and
  • includes delivery of newspapers for non-English-language material audiences or communities that have limited access to digital connectivity and are hard to reach due to physical location

For media that rely on physical delivery, Freight Services is also an Alert Level 4 business and service. Freight Services are defined as:

  • Freight Services (including those for transporting livestock) provided by means of road, rail, air, or sea
  • any other transport and logistics services, including those provided at or through an aerodrome or a port

Given the huge variety of content production operations and service delivery processes across media, individual organisations will need to make their own determination regarding their business and service relating to these definitions. If you are an Alert Level 4 business or service, workers may leave home to provide those services. They and the workplace need to adhere to the specific requirements in the legislation for operating in Alert Level 4, to limit the spread of COVID-19 and keep New Zealanders safe.

The Ministry of Health recommends that if an organisation has any doubt about whether it provides Alert Level 4 services and/or cannot meet the relevant public health requirements, then the workplace must close, and workers must work from home. 

Alert Level 4 businesses must comply with the workplace requirements of the Order. In summary that means the business must:

  • display a QR code and have other record keeping that allows contact tracing
  • have systems in place to ensure workers maintain the 1-metre physical distancing rule; and
  • take other appropriate steps to mitigate other risks (for example regular cleaning of surfaces).

The Key Communications category does not permit clients or customers to enter the workplace.

At Alert Level 2

Please refer to the official Governement information on what Alert Level 2 means for you. All businesses and services can open but legally must follow public health rules.

Public Health Order  

More detail can be found in the Order: COVID-19 Public Health Response (Alert Level Requirements) Order (No 10) 2021 or on the Unite against COVID website: Doing business at Alert Level 4

The consequences of failing to comply with the requirements of the Order is an infringement offence under the Act and could result in fines.

The Director-General of Health has the power to grant exemptions to persons, businesses, services or goods from the requirements of the Order. Exemptions to the Order are considered on a case-by-case basis. Details of criteria for exemptions can be found here: COVID-19 Public Health Response (Alert Level Requirements) Order (No 10) 2021.

If you have any questions, please contact [email protected]

Updated on 14th September 2021