Are you an essential business?

Overnight, the Government has provided some clarity on what is considered an essential business.

Here’s what is considered essential in the retail sector:

  • Supermarkets
  • Pharmacies
  • Vet clinics*
  • Pet shops and pet services*
  • Dairies (with a one-in, one-out rule)
  • Self-service laundries (two-metre physical distancing rules apply)
  • Stores supplying the building/construction sector (but only for trade customers for essential purposes)
  • Uncooked food delivery services (subject to conditions)

*Special registration requirements apply.

Operating online

The Government has not made a decision about online retailing. It is still considering this point and we are not sure what the timing of the decision will be. In the meantime, unless your store features on the list above, we advise you not to trade online.






If your business is considered essential, you must operate in a way that minimises the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Businesses should:

  • Minimise, or eliminate if possible, physical interactions among staff and with and between customers
  • Ensure appropriate health, hygiene and safety measures are in place
  • Restrict activity to only what is essential during the Alert Level 4 period.

These practices may include:

  • Working from home as far as possible
  • Limiting, or eliminating if possible, physical interaction between staff e.g. through physical distancing, split shifts, staggered meal breaks and flexible working arrangements
  • Limiting, or eliminating if possible, physical interaction with and between customers e.g. through online or phone orders, contactless delivery or managed entry (while also avoiding crowding outside), and physical distancing both inside and outside the premises
  • Hygiene basics of hand washing and sanitisers
  • Frequent cleaning of premises, especially counters and eftpos terminals, and other high-touch surfaces (cleaning advice is available on the Ministry of Health website)
  • Protective equipment for staff as appropriate.

If you are unsure if you can operate in a manner that minimises the risk of transmission of COVID-19, you should close while you put in place appropriate measures.

If you are unsure if your business is considered essential, email or call 0508 377 388.

For questions related to primary industries, including food and beverage production and processing, email or call 0800 00 83 33.

During the four-week lockdown, we hope those who should stay at home do just that and help protect those working in essential services, along with the rest of their communities, from COVID-19. We are all in this together.

We know this can be a difficult time, so please let us know if there is anything else we can do to help support your business.