What are essential businesses?27 Mar 2020

The following services are considered essential. That means businesses carrying out these functions can remain open, including any critical suppliers in their supply chains, eg a firm repairing IT and data infrastructure for an essential service is okay to remain in operation.

This list, published by the New Zealand Government, will evolve over time. It was last updated at 9.20am, 2 April 2020.

SectorsEntities providing essential services (including their supply chains)

Lead agency: Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

  • Any entity that provides accommodation services for essential workers, isolation/quarantine, and emergency housing
  • Retirement villages
  • Backpackers accommodation (see Additional decisions and exemptions for more information)

Lead agency: Customs New Zealand

  • Customs New Zealand, Immigration New Zealand and the Ministry for Primary Industries.
Building and construction

Lead agency: Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

  • Any entity involved in building and construction related to essential services and critical infrastructure, including those in the supply and support chain
  • Any entity involved in any work required to address immediate health or life safety risks, or to prevent serious environmental harm, and relevant essential supply chain elements
  • Any entity with statutory responsibilities or that is involved in building and resource consenting necessary for the above purposes.
    Further detail on the construction sector on Building Performance website
Courts, tribunals and the justice system

Lead agency: Ministry of Justice

  • Courts of New Zealand, tribunals
  • Critical Crown entities (eg Electoral Commission).

Lead agency: Ministry of Education

At Alert Level 4:

  • Any entity or individual determined by the Secretary for Education as required to provide distance or online learning (eg printers, devices, IT)

At Alert Level 3 only:

  • Any person employed or contracted as teaching, nursery and childcare staff, including specialist education professionals and others who provide support (eg to disabled children)
  • Any person employed by or contracted to an educational facility
  • Any entity supplying educational facilities or educational materials (eg printers)
Fast-moving consumer goods

Lead agency: Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

  • Any entity involved in the supply, delivery, distribution and sale of food, beverage and other key consumer goods essential for maintaining the wellbeing of people.
Financial services

Lead agencies: Financial Markets Authority and Reserve Bank of New Zealand

  • Any entity that operates consumer and business financial services, financial services infrastructure including banking services, a stock exchange, broking services, payment and settlement systems, funds management including KiwiSaver, insurance services, financial advice, and support services such as administrators, supervisors and custodians.
    Reserve Bank guidance on essential financial services

Lead agency: Ministry of Health

  • District Health Boards (and all of their facilities), Pharmac, New Zealand Blood Service, Health Promotion Agency, Health Quality and Safety Commission
  • Any person employed or contracted as a doctor, nurse, midwife, pharmacist, paramedic, medical laboratory scientists, kaiāwhina workers, social workers, aged care and community workers, and caregivers more generally
  • Hospitals, primary care clinics, pharmacies, medical laboratories, care facilities (eg rest homes)
  • Emergency dental and optometry care services
  • Any entity providing ambulance services
  • Any entity involved with the deceased/tūpāpaku (eg funeral homes, crematories, cemeteries)
  • Any entity producing health sector equipment, medicines and PPE.(external link)
    The Ministry of Health has further information on essential services in the health and disability system
Local and national government

Lead agencies: Department of Internal Affairs (local government) and State Services Commission (national government)

  • Any entity involved in COVID-19 response, enforcement, planning or logistics or that has civil defence/emergency management functions (including any entity that supplies services for these purposes)
  • Key public services.
Foreign government

Lead agency: Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade

  • Maintaining critical operations at foreign missions based in New Zealand.
Primary industries, including food and beverage production and processing

Lead agency: Ministry for Primary Industries

  • Any entity involved in the packaging, production and processing of food and beverage products, whether for domestic consumption or export
  • Any entity involved in relevant support services, such as food safety and verification, inspection or associated laboratory services, food safety and biosecurity functions
  • Any entity providing veterinary services
  • Any entity whose closure would jeopardise the maintenance of animal health or welfare standards (including the short-term survival of a species).
Public safety and national security

Lead agency: National Emergency Management Agency

  • The Department of Corrections, Fire and Emergency New Zealand, Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Justice, New Zealand Defence Force, New Zealand Police, New Zealand Security Intelligence Service, Government Communications Security Bureau, and Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet
  • Courts of New Zealand
  • Any person employed or contracted in a public safety or national security role.

Lead agency: Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

  • ESR, GNS, GeoNet, NIWA, MetService
  • Any entity (including research organisations) involved in COVID-19 response
  • Any entity (including research organisations) involved in hazard monitoring and resilience
  • Any entity (including research organisations) involved in diagnostics for essential services like biosecurity, public health
  • Laboratories and Physical Containment level 3 (PC3) facilities that could provide essential services and products that could be used to respond to COVID-19
  • Other significant research facilities including animal facilities, clinical trials and infrastructure that requires constant attention (eg samples, collections and storage facilities) that are important to New Zealand.
Social services

Lead Agency: Ministry of Social Development/Oranga Tamariki

  • Those entities, including non-government organisations, that provide welfare and social services to meet immediate needs, in the following categories:
Transport and logistics

Lead agency: Ministry of Transport

  • The Ministry of Transport has provided specific advice for the transport sector. This may be updated as the response evolves.
    Ministry of Transport: Essential services
  • Customs New Zealand advice on essential and non-essential goods
  • Any small passenger service vehicle driver (who holds the relevant licence) such as ride-share or taxi drivers
  • Any entity providing services to keep vehicles operational for essential work purposes (eg vehicle testing, mechanics, tyre services)
  • Ministry of Transport, New Zealand Customs, New Zealand Transport Agency, Civil Aviation Authority (including Aviation Security Service), Maritime New Zealand (including the Rescue Coordination Centre), Airways NZ, MetService, KiwiRail (including Interislander), and any entity which is contracted by these entities
  • Any entity that provides, or is contracted to an entity that provides, logistics services, including New Zealand Post and courier services
  • Any entity providing, or that is contracted by an entity that provides, transport services to the Ministry of Health, a District Health Board, a Medical Officer of Health, or a Controller (as defined in section 4 of the Civil Defence and Emergency Management Act 2002)
  • Any entity which provides services related to the maintenance and ongoing operation of critical infrastructure (eg roads, rail, ports, airports)
  • Any entity which operates or is contracted by an entity listed in Schedule 1 of the Civil Defence and Emergency Management Act 2002, an aerodrome, a passenger and/or freight aviation service, a passenger and/or freight shipping service, a road freight service, a rail freight service, a vehicle recovery service; or a public transport service (under contract with a Regional Council).
  • The delivery of solid fuels (including firewood, pellets and coal) for immediate needs (eg home heating) or fulfilling existing orders is an essential service.
  • Disposal of waste, including recycling, is an essential service and may continue to operate during Alert level 4.  Individual operators have responsibilities to appropriately meet the health, safety, and security requirements of their staff and customers, and should not operate if they feel they cannot do so
Utilities and communications, including supply chains

Lead agency: Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, and Ministry for Culture and Heritage (for broadcasting)

  • Any entity involved in the production, supply, sale distribution or disposal of electricity, gas, water, wastewater (eg sanitation), waste (eg rubbish collection and recycling), liquid and solid fuel, telecommunication services, and any entity that is contracted by these entities
  • The delivery of solid fuels (including firewood, pellets and coal) for immediate needs (eg home heating) or fulfilling existing orders, is an essential service.
  • News (including news production) and broadcast media is considered essential. Daily delivery of newspapers is considered essential. Non-daily newspapers for communities that are hard to reach due to physical location and with limited access to digital connectivity, or for non-English language material audiences are considered essential. Non-broadcast news organisations are encouraged to deliver services online wherever possible. The physical delivery of printed magazines is not considered to be an essential service, as magazines are not considered to provide up-to-date critical news
  • Security and cleaning of GLAM institutions: All galleries, libraries, archives and museums will remain closed to the public. Essential security and maintenance is permitted.
  • Internet service providers
  • Any entity that provides maintenance and repair services for utilities and communications, including supply chains
  • Any entity supplying services to essential workplaces that are required for the safe operation of that workplace (eg cleaning, security services).
  • Commercial cleaners that clean common areas of apartment buildings may also continue to operate, where there is high-traffic (eg lifts, stairwells).
  • For further guidance visit the Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Additional decisions and exemptions – updated 8am, 1 April 2020

  • All supermarkets and dairies are considered essential services. A supermarket’s primary focus is selling food products, and is a retail store operating on a self-service basis, selling groceries, fresh produce, meat, bakery and dairy products, and sometimes an assortment of non-food goods. Dairies must operate a one-in-one-out rule, and cannot sell cooked food.
    You can download a ‘one at a time in our store please’ poster from our resources page
  • Essential consumer products other than food may be provided subject to conditions. If a business cannot meet these conditions, it must not offer goods for sale during the Alert Level 4 period.
    Details about essential non-food consumer products
  • Food delivery other than cooked prepared meals such as takeaways is allowed (eg supermarket home delivery, food parcels from charitable organisations, subscription food boxes, or any other whole-food delivery service). Meals-on-Wheels may continue to deliver prepared food. Ordering, payment and delivery must be contactless and the business must operate safely within the general health guidelines such as physical separation and hygiene.
  • Food banks are considered an essential social service. Food banks must operate a one-in-one-out rule, and cannot sell or provide cooked food.
  • Locksmiths can undertake essential work on emergency call-outs and essential activity to maintain the security of premises/personal properties.
  • Turf maintenance is not considered an essential service and should not be undertaken at this time.
  • Real estate services (the sale and purchase of houses) are not considered to be an essential service. All real estate business must be undertaken from home. For more information, refer to the Real Estate Authority’s guidance.
  • Some property management services may be considered essential, eg urgent maintenance to ensure the supply of essential services (gas, water, power, waste). All other property management activities are considered non-essential and therefore must be conducted remotely, or deferred until end of Alert Level 4. For more information, please see Tenancy Services information.
  • Pet care services are not considered to be essential, except where necessary to maintain existing boarding of animals in pet care, or for long-term care when no other alternatives are available.
  • Vehicle washing services must only be undertaken when supporting essential services to ensure they are complying with the necessary health and safety requirements. Eg washing off contaminated or biohazard materials.
  • Road safety equipment for road construction should only be used only where maintenance is essential.
  • Farmers markets are not considered to be an essential service, as alternatives are available.
  • Liquor stores must close to the public unless they are in Licensing Trust Areas and the liquor store is operated by the Licensing Trust in that area. Open premises in Licensing Trust Areas can operate with a one-in-one-out rule.
  • Pest management may be undertaken only where required for human health and safety, and it is essential during the Alert Level 4 period. However, operators must ensure people have somewhere safe to go while the process is underway, in particular where a property is being vacated.
  • Campgrounds may continue to operate under very strict protocols and management of access. Eg contact to be maintained only with people staying in the same abode/room; common social and recreation areas to be closed; split shift access to common areas.
  • Backpacker accommodation providers may continue to operate under very strict protocols and management of access conditions. Eg contact to be maintained only with people staying in the same room; common social and recreation areas to be closed; split shift access to common areas.
  • Airbnb is considered to be an essential service but must operate under very strict protocols, and management of access conditions (eg contact to be maintained only with people staying in the same abode / room; common social and recreation areas to be closed; split shift access to common areas). However, there must be no new non-emergency business. The above guidelines apply only for existing customers who were staying at the property at the start of the Alert Level 4 period, or people who need emergency accommodation.
  • Butchers, bakeries and similar small-scale food retailers are considered non-essential, as similar products are readily available in supermarkets.
  • Furniture moving, in general, is not considered to be essential. Anyone who was moving house before Alert Level 4 had until the end of Friday 27 March to complete their move.
  • Natural health services are considered non-essential.
  • Plant nurseries supplying primary industries are considered to be essential and may continue operating. Plant nurseries not supplying primary industries are not considered to be essential services and may not operate.
  • Recruitment services, while potentially for essential services, should be done entirely remotely.
  • Security is considered an essential service, even if security services are being provided in relation to a premise for a non-essential service.
  • Self-storage facilities can operate only to facilitate access for essentials. New sales or expiries of units are considered non-essential. Access to existing lockers is permitted for essential items or services only. Eg fridges.
  • Critical support services to ensure businesses and workers can continue working from home are considered to be essential. This includes functions such as IT and Payroll.
  • Rental cars may be accessed in some circumstances. Ministry of Transport has put out documentation on essential transport logistics and services.
    Please refer to the Ministry of Transport website(external link)
  • Every restaurant, café and bar must close all aspects of their operation.
  • Self-service laundries can stay open, with 2-metre physical distancing to be enforced.
  • Bunnings, Placemakers, Mitre 10 and other retailers essential to the supply chain for building and construction can stay open to trade customers for essential purposes only.
  • The Tiwai Point smelter is exempt from closure.
  • NZ Steel is to shut down in a way that allows for production to recommence easily.
  • Pulp and paper plants are to shut down their non-essential elements in a way that allows for production to recommence easily, and while maintaining essential production.
  • Methanex can remain in production, but at a scale consistent with the stability of gas supply.

For the avoidance of doubt, sectors and occupations specified in the following are also included in this list of essential services:

  • Schedule 1 of the Civil Defence and Emergency Management CDEM Act 2002 Schedule 1 of lifeline utilities AND
  • Employment Relations Act 2000 Schedule 1 of essential services.

These entities will continue working, but will put in place alternative ways of working to keep employees safe, including shift-based working, staggered meal breaks, flexible leave arrangements and physical distancing.

If you have any queries around essential services you can get in touch with our team at 0508 377 388 or email [email protected].