Tuesday, 25th January, 2022

Dear Member,

With more cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 in the community we find ourselves in Red under the Covid Protection Framework (traffic lights). 
Is your business ready for Omicron?
Get your business prepared for Omicron in the community by reducing the risk of COVID-19 infections in your workplace and planning for potential staff shortages and supply chain issues.

Business at Red
Red is not a lockdown. Businesses can stay open at the Red setting but will need to take extra measures to ensure they are operating safely within public health requirements. Workplaces that can allow people to work from home are encouraged to do so where appropriate. 

The team has been fielding calls on what does 'where appropriate' mean.  Essentially, you need to consider your business continuity by thinking about the different functions performed in your organisation and how would you operate with people either getting sick or being required to isolate in the event of case or close contact at work. 

This might not mean everyone who can works from home all the time, but it might mean being physically at work is staggered so not all members of a team are in the office at one time or it might mean that people who share households with vulnerable people work from home for the next few weeks.  Even if you are spaced in your office, if you spend long periods indoors together you are likely to be considered close contacts in the event of a case.  Whatever you choose to do we know that this will be a period of high sensitivity for both you and your employees and with rules and guidelines likely to change and sometimes quickly, we will endeavour to keep you informed.

At present, if your workplace does not fall into one of the categories listed here, you need to follow general workplace rules:

  • Workplaces may open at all levels, provided they are not undertaking activities that are otherwise restricted. At red, workplaces are open, working from home may be appropriate for some staff.
  • Workplaces must display NZ COVID Tracer app QR codes, but vehicles are not required to do this.
  • In general, workers do not need to scan NZ COVID Tracer app QR codes if it is their usual place of work. However, all other persons on the premises are encouraged to scan or use alternative record keeping.
Learn more about what your business needs to do at Red – UniteAgainstCovid19 to keep yourself and others safe while operating.
Here are the guidelines from TIA (Tourism Industry Aotearoa) for operating accommodation and tourism activities at the different settings:
Here are the guidelines from CHASNZ (Construction Health and Safety New Zealand) for construction operating under the protection framework.  CHASNZ provides a range of useful resources in managing your business from site operation through to what to do if you have a case on site.

COVID testing sites will be using rapid antigen tests (RATs) alongside the usual PCR tests where necessary. Many businesses already have access to their own stock of RATs and can order their own, and the Government will be working on provision - particularly to SMEs.

More information on the use of RATs as well changes to isolation requirements is expected from the Government tomorrow, and we will keep you updated.
All domestic travel can still occur under the Red setting.
Economic support
The Government’s initial response to an Omicron outbreak is targeted at supply chain and workforce disruptions, based on overseas examples of the variant’s impact. Government will make changes to support as appropriate, and see if more targeted support measures are needed.
  • The COVID-19 Short-Term Absence Payment is available for businesses, including self-employed people, to help pay their employees who cannot work from home while they wait for a COVID-19 test result.
  • The COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme is available to employers, including self-employed people, to help pay their employees who have been advised to self-isolate because of COVID-19 and can’t work at home during that period.

As always, the Chamber team is here to help. If you have any questions please contact us on admin@queenstownchamber.org.nz or phone 03 441 8254. 

Take care
Ruth Stokes
Chief Executive