Now that Omicron is in the country and we have moved to the Red traffic light system, it’s recommended, if you haven’t already, that your business has a policy/plan about how you will protect and manage COVID-19, to ensure the least amount of disruption. It’s the best thing you can plan for because it will help you stay open for longer and have fewer employees away from work, which will help keep your productivity and cash flow going.
The biggest concern is if one person gets Covid, this could potentially make you all close contacts and you will all need to self-isolate for 10 days (depending on the phase), so how is your business going to run? Even worse, if your whole team gets Covid you could all continually be away from the business with a mix of either close contacts or sick employees.

Business.Govt.NZ has some great tips on how you can manage the impact of COVID-19 cases at your business that you can add to your Policy/Plan. The below link includes:
• Dealing with Omicron – Preparing for possible workforce shortages due to staff being sick, needing to self-isolate and supply chain issues
• How to can reduce the risk of COVID-19 infections at your business – ways you can reduce the spread of the virus amongst employees, suppliers, customers and other visitors
• How to plan ahead for COVID-19 cases affecting your business – what you can put in place in advance so that your business can continue to operate if your employees get sick or need to self isolate. Also planning for advance for how businesses you work with may affect you.
• How to follow public health advice if you, your employees or someone else who visits your premises has COVID-19. The Ministry Of Health website will always contain the latest advice and requirements around this.
• Looking after yourself and your mental health – Includes some resources that can help.

You can find all this information here. We also have a template you can use to put your plan together which can be found here
Once you have created your plan we recommend this is communicated with your employees to ensure you are all on the same page with your approach, and they might like to help you add to this.

Further Updates:

To help ensure sufficient workers are available to maintain critical infrastructure and supply chains, Government Agencies are currently in the process of putting together a system and register to help prioritise the allocation of Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) for businesses. There will also be a ‘test to work’ approach, meaning critical workers that are close contacts will be able to return to work early, as long as they return a negative RAT result every day they are at work during their required Isolation period.
For more details, click here.

New Phases For Managing COVID-19 Cases In Your Business
As part of the Omicron response, the Government has announced 3 new phases for cases and close contacts which include different isolation and quarantine requirements. They are:
Phase One
– Cases need to isolate for 14 days (release by health official)
– Contacts need to isolate for 10 days (test days 5 and 8, if symptomatic, then test immediately).
Phase Two
– Cases need to isolate for 10 days (self-release after day 10 if asymptomatic for 72 hours)
– Contacts need to isolate for 7 days (test on day 5).
Phase Three
– Cases need to isolate for 10 days (self-release after day 10 if asymptomatic for 72 hours)
– Contacts need to isolate for 7 days (test if symptomatic).
You can read more details about this here.

Face Masks
There are some changes to what type of masks are required and where they need to be worn. These changes come in force at 11:59pm on Thursday the 3rd of February 2022. You can read more here.

Current Business Support Available:

At this stage no further support has been announced for those who are impacted by the red alert setting for an extended period of time. However the following support still remains:
• The COVID-19 Short Term Absence Payment – Available for businesses and self employed people to help pay those who cannot work from home while they await a COVID-19 Test result. This is a one-off payment of $359 per eligible worker, and you can only apply for this once in any 30-day period unless a health official or doctor tells your employee to get another test. For more information click here.
• The COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme – Available for businesses and self employed people to help pay those who have been advised to self-isolate because of COVID-19 and can’t work from home. This is a one week (previously 2 weeks) payment of $600 for full-time workers who work 20 or more hours per week, and $359 for part-time workers who work less than 20 hours per week. Your employee would need to have been advised to isolate from home for at least four consecutive days to be eligible. If the employee needs to keep self-isolating for at least 11 days or more you can apply for a second payment, then every 7 days after this you can apply for a third and subsequent payment. For more details and eligibilty criteria click here.

A Reminder of The Red Light Framework:
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You can also view more details here.

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