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Information on COVID-19 Alert Level 2

Moving to Alert Level 2 for social sector organisations

The Government has provided information on what will be required of people and organisations at COVID-19 Alert Level 2. The decision on when the country will move to Alert Level 2 is expected to be announced on 11 May 2020. Until then, the country will remain at Alert Level 3 and we expect organisations to operate in keeping with the Government’s requirements and the guidance we have previously shared.

Our country’s goal is to eliminate COVID-19 from Aotearoa New Zealand. At Alert Level 2 the disease is contained but the risk of community transition remains. Our national response to this involves maintaining infection control measures and some restrictions to address sporadic cases or a cluster in New Zealand.

Additional information around the shift to Alert Level 2

As the Government’s funders of social services, Oranga Tamariki, the Ministry of Social Development (MSD), the Department of Corrections, the Accident Compensation Corporation, Te Puni Kokiri and the Ministries of Justice, Health and Education would like to collectively provide you with the following information around the shift to Alert Level 2.

Alert Level 2 allows for businesses to open and services to be provided as normal where this can be done safely.

Operating safely under Alert Level 2 involves:

  • maintaining physical distancing of one metre in the workplace unless other mitigating measures are in place
  • keeping your distance from people you don’t know in public (ideally two metres)
  • maintaining high levels of personal hygiene and workplace cleaning
  • keeping accurate contact records to enable contact tracing if required
  • checking with clients whether they are unwell or know of any COVID-19 risk
  • appropriately using the personal protective equipment as required by the guidelines
  • meeting all health and safety requirements.

The above applies to OSCAR, which can open under Alert Level 2.

Oranga Tamariki has developed a number of resources to enable it to operate in keeping with these requirements including client screening and contact tracing tools, which you are welcome to reference in developing your own guidance and tools.

Applying Level 2 requirements

At Alert Level 2, the Government is trusting individuals and organisations to exercise appropriate judgement when applying the requirements to their circumstances. As you look to embed public health and other measures into your operations, we recognise that you will be taking a number of considerations into account including the following.

In terms of organisations:

  • you may choose to take a phased approach to how you transition from how you have been operating at Alert Level 3
  • you will want to seek the views of staff and will need to balance staff wellbeing alongside your operational requirements
  • you will need to look at alternative ways of working to address the requirements (e.g. the need for one metre distancing), which may include remote working, shift-based working, marking out workplaces to promote physical distancing, staggering meal breaks, flexible leave
  • people at higher-risk of severe illness from COVID-19 (e.g. those with underlying medical conditions, especially if not well-controlled) may work, if they agree with their employer that they can do so safely.

In terms of how we deliver services:

  • we recognise the socio–economic impacts of COVID-19 will continue to be seen and felt in our communities and need to be prepared to identify and respond to these. These impacts are likely to be disproportionately experienced by Māori and Pacific communities
  • we need to actively protect the health of the people we work with – particularly kaumatua, kuia and vulnerable people in households
  • we should consider, respect and be responsive to the fears, anxieties and worries that people may have developed or have been compounded as a result of COVID-19, and this may impact on how they wish to engage with you.

We would like to see any gains from how we have worked collaboratively during previous alert levels sustained into the future. For example, it would be good to see people:

  • working with whānau and other service providers to identify a lead worker who is best placed to carry out home visits (for example because they are already undertaking visits or have an existing trusted relationship with the whānau)
  • connecting with their local network of partners, particularly iwi and Māori organisations who have a unique role in supporting their communities, to maximise collective impact and make shared decisions to support sustainable solutions to the needs of the communities you work with.

Individual government agencies may also have their own requirements around how the services they fund should operate under Alert Level 2. They will be in touch with further information if this is the case.

COVID-19 Public Health Response (Alert Level 2) Order 2020

The Government passed legislation, which came into force on 14 May 2020, that sets out the requirements for businesses and services, gatherings, funerals and tangihanga at COVID-19 Alert Level 2. This Order is important because it specifies the requirements (including for physical distancing) when people come together in different contexts.

We note that the Order includes ‘voluntary and not-for-profit services’ within the definition of ‘businesses and services’. We also see that the Order has different provisions relating to different types of businesses and services.

Please note that there are specific exclusions from this order, which include the provision of health services, education entities, and custodial or detention services managed by the New Zealand Police, the Department of Corrections, or the Ministry of Justice, or within a courthouse. See section 21 for all the exclusions. Other health and safety obligations will continue to apply.

Social service organisations

We envisage that most social service organisations would fit within the description of businesses and services that ‘largely have a consistent group of workers and usually have a fixed workplace’, i.e. section 11 (1) (a) (i). Where this is the case, organisations need to meet the following requirements:

  • ensure that all people who enter the workplace or use its services remain 1 metre away from each other and from workers (to the greatest extent practicable); and
  • keep records to enable contact tracing of people who enter the workplace or use its services.

An exception to this is where a group of family and friends of less than 10 enters the workplace. They may be less than 1 metre away from each other. However, if the group is larger than 10 they must remain 1 metre away from each other.

Please note that the other requirements for operating safely at Alert Level 2 also apply including:

  • maintaining high levels of personal hygiene and workplace cleaning
  • checking with clients whether they are unwell or know of any COVID-19 risk
  • appropriately using the personal protective equipment as required by the guidelines
  • meeting all health and safety requirements.

These requirements would apply when organisations are conducting group therapy or support sessions, meetings and training sessions.

Food and drink requirements

The Order also contains specific food and drink requirements for businesses and services (section 12 of the Order). These apply to a soup kitchen or other place where customers or clients enter the premises and food or drink is provided without charge.

Businesses and services must:

  • permit no more than 100 customers or clients to be in the workplace at any 1 time; and
  • ensure that each customer or client is seated at a table (other than when entering, using a toilet or bathroom, paying, or departing); and
  • ensure that no more than 10 customers or clients are seated at a table together; and
  • ensure that adjacent tables are arranged so there is at least a 1-metre separation between the seated customers or clients at adjacent tables; and
  • ensure that only 1 worker serves at any table; and
  • keep records to enable contact tracing of customers or clients who enter the workplace or use its services.

Help with operating at COVID-19 Alert Level 2

You can find up to date information on Alert Level 2 on the Government’s COVID-19 website.

You will see there is now information specifically for NGOs and charities.

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