You are here:

COVID-19: Essential Service Areas

25 Mar 2020

Updates to essential businesses content – for updating 24 March 2020

Essential businesses

Only businesses that are essential to the provision of the necessities of life may reamin open during the Level 4 Alert period. If a business is unsure whether it provides such products or services, it should shut its premises.

Essential businesses, and those that support them, will continue to provide the necessities of life for everyone in New Zealand.

This means food, medicine, healthcare, energy, fuel, waste-removal, internet and financial support will continue to be available.

Alert Level 4 means New Zealanders not working in essential services must stay at home and stop all interactions with others outside of your household. The purpose of escalating our alert level to 4 is to stop the virus in its tracks and reduce contact between people. We need as many businesses as possible to close now if our one shot at beating the virus is to be successful.

The essential services list identifies work that can continue from business premises at Level 4, as long as it is done in a way that limits or eliminates the risk of spreading COVID-19.

It may be possible to deliver some essential services entirely with staff working remotely from home. However, if essential workers are required to leave home to work, then their business must:

  1. Minimise personal interactions, amongst staff and with customers and
  2. Ensure all appropriate health, hygiene and safety measures are in place.

It is for an industry or business to decide how best to meet these aims in a practical way – the approach must be workable. This could include the likes of:

  • Working from home as far as possible
  • Limiting staff intereaction through personal distancing and split shifts
  • Limiting interaction with and between customers eg through online or phone orders, contactless delivery and/or managed entry
  • Frequent cleaning of counters and EFTPOS terminals
  • Personal protection equipment for staff
  • Hygiene basics imcluding hand washing and sanitisers

Businesses who need more advice can contact

What are essential businesses?

The following services are considered essential. This 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 without which an entity cannot provide an essential service).

This list will evolve over time. It was last updated at 8 pm, 24 March 2020.


Entities 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


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
  • Any   entity involved in building and construction required immediately to maintain   human health and safety at home or work
  • Any   entity that performs or is involved in building and resource consenting   necessary for the above purposes

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

Only at COVID-19 Alert Level 3:

  • 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

  • Banks,   insurers and other financial institutions, including any entity that   contracts or provides services to them (eg secure money delivery services)
  • Securities   registries
  • NZX


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)
  • 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

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

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
  • 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, to be specified jointly by the Ministry of Social   Development and Oranga Tamariki

Transport and logistics

Lead agency: Ministry of Transport

  • 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 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)
  • Any   small passenger service vehicle driver (who holds the relevant licence)
  • Any   entity providing services to keep vehicles operational for essential work   purposes (eg vehicle testing, mechanics, tyre services)

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, waste water (eg sanitation), waste (eg rubbish   collection), fuel, telecommunication services, and any entity that is   contracted by these entities
  • News   (including news production) and broadcast media
  • Internet   service providers
  • Any   entity that provides maintenance and repair services for utilities and   communications, including supply chains
  • Any   entity supplying services to an essential workplaces that are required for   the safe operation of that workplace (eg cleaning, security services)

Decisions made by Cabinet, 24 March 2020

  • Dairies can remain open, with a one-in-one-out rule, and cannot sell cooked food.
  • Food delivery is prohibited, except meals-on-wheels and whole food delivery (eg subscription food boxes).
  • Every restaurant, café and bar must close all aspects of their operation.
  • Liquor stores must close, unless they are within Licensing Trust areas (in which case they can operate with a one-in-one-out rule).
  • Self-service laundries can stay open, with two meter physical distancing to be enforced.
  • Retirement villages are included as an essential service.
  • The Warehouse must close.
  • 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.

The entities listed above can continue to operate premises but must put in place alternative ways of working to keep employees safe, including shift-based working, staggered meal breaks, flexible leave arrangements and physical distancing.

Contact us at for more information.

More specific information for each sector will be published shortly.

Download the list of essential businesses

Essential businesses list as at 8 pm, 23 March 2020 [PDF, 137 KB]

Other businesses icon

Non-essential businesses

Non-essential businesses must now close their premises. All bars, restaurants, cafes, gyms, cinemas, pools, museums, libraries, playgrounds and any other place where the public congregate must close their face to face functions.

If you are a business or worker in a non-essential business, you may still work – as long as this is from home. If you cannot work remotely, you must stay home.

We need your support to protect New Zealand and eradicate COVID-19.

Enforcement measures may be used to ensure everyone acts together, now.