Is your business ready for the Traffic Light System?

Topics covered in this article: Business Owners, Employment

Peter Crombie

Partners

Partner

Phone: +64 7 927 0516
Email: pcrombie@clmlaw.co.nz

 

Bachelor of Laws, University of Otago

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Tania Reweti

Senior Associate

Senior Associate

Phone: +64 7 927 0543
Email: treweti@clmlaw.co.nz

LinkedIn

Bachelor of Arts,  Bachelor of Laws (Hons), University of Waikato

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Patrick Anderson

Associates

Associate

Phone: +64 7 927 0550
Email: PAnderson@clmlaw.co.nz

LinkedIn

Master of Laws (Distinction), Bachelor of Laws, Bachelor of Arts, University of Auckland

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New Zealand will move to the COVID-19 Protection Framework or “traffic light system” on 3 December 2021. Auckland will move to Red while the settings for the rest of New Zealand will be announced on 29 November 2021.

What does this mean for businesses?

The new framework will provide greater freedoms and less lockdowns. For businesses, it will mean that most workplaces will be able to operate at all levels of the framework, provided that they comply with the use of My Vaccine Pass where required.

Hospitality, Events, Gatherings, Close Contact Businesses and Gyms (Pass Required Businesses) must require all persons entering the premises to scan their My Vaccine Pass using the new verifier app that was released this week.

Businesses who are not excluded from doing so can opt in to using the My Vaccine Pass system for entry to their premises provided that they have undertaken a health and safety risk assessment to determine what work needs to be performed by vaccinated people, and implemented those requirements for employees at their workplace.

These businesses can then require anyone entering their workplace to provide their My Vaccine Pass as an entry requirement to the business as a health and safety control measure. Some businesses have already started contacting clients and suppliers to advise them that their My Covid Pass must be scanned in order to enter their premises when the COVID-19 Protection Framework comes into effect nationwide from 3 December 2021.

A number of high-profile businesses have already implemented a requirement for proof of vaccination to grant entry to their premises from 1 November 2021, providing an early example for non-mandated businesses who are considering whether to move to that position from 3 December 2021.

What do the different traffic lights mean for businesses?

GREEN: At the “green light” setting all workplaces and retail outlets can open. There are no limits on Pass Required Businesses provided they are using the vaccine certificate system. If they are not, limits of up to 100 people with 1m distancing apply.

ORANGE: Under the “orange light” setting all workplaces can open. Retail can open with capacity limits based on 1m distancing. There are no limits on Pass Required Businesses provided they are using the vaccine certificate system. If they are not using vaccine passes:

- Hospitality = cannot open, contactless services only;
- Gatherings = limits of up to 50 people with 1m distancing;
- All other close contact businesses, gyms and events are not allowed.

RED:  Under the “red light” setting all workplaces can open but working from home is encouraged. Retail can open with capacity limits based on 1m distancing.

Limits on Pass Required Businesses provided they are using the vaccine certificate system are:

- Hospitality and Events = up to 100 people seated, with 1m distancing;
- Gatherings and Gyms = up to 100 people, with 1m distancing;
- Close contact businesses = public health requirements in place;
- Tertiary education = 1m distancing.

If they are not using the vaccine certificate system:

- Hospitality = can’t open, contactless services only;
- Gatherings limits of up to 10 people;
- Tertiary education = distance learning only;
- All other close contact businesses, gyms and events are not allowed.

Who can’t use My Vaccine Pass Pass as an entry requirement for their business?

Basic needs services such as supermarkets, pharmacies, health and disability services and primary and secondary education facilities cannot ask for proof of verification status and will not require a NZ Pass Verifier.

New Risk Assessment Tool Coming

The current WorkSafe guidelines for deciding what work requires a vaccinated person will be clarified on 29 November 2021 when the Government releases a new risk assessment tool for businesses.

The tool will provide a legal framework to help businesses make decisions about vaccinations in the workplace. It will build on the existing guidance provided by WorkSafe and specifies 4 key factors, at least 3 of which must be met, before it would be reasonable to require vaccination for particular work. The key factors are:

1. Workers are in an area with less than 100m2 indoor space;
2. Workers work less than 1m apart from other people;
3. Workers are routinely near others for more than 15 minutes;
4. That the workers provide services to people vulnerable to Covid-19.

The new process won’t override risk assessments that businesses have already carried out under the existing health and safety guidelines. Businesses will be able to choose which tool they use, and any assessments performed to date remain valid.

What should you do if you are unsure about your options?

The current legal landscape for businesses dealing with vaccination issues is a potential minefield for the unwary. Legal advice should be sought as early as possible on the options that are best for your business, and how to manage the transition into the new framework.

For further information please contact our employment law specialists Peter Crombie,  Tania Waikato Reweti or Patrick Anderson.