We know there’s been a lot of confusion over the new traffic light system, and we’ve been fielding calls from many of our clients over the last couple of weeks.  We’ve set out some of the most common questions we’re being asked right now.


Do I have to use the My Vaccine Pass system and verify people?

Many businesses and organisations must use the My Vaccine Pass system to continue operating in orange and red, and others have chosen to opt into that system.

If you are mandated or have chosen to opt in, then you must display posters to let people know they need to show a vaccine pass when they enter your premises. You must sight all My Vaccine Passes and it is strongly recommended that you verify them. The NZ Pass Verifier is the New Zealand Ministry of Health’s official App for scanning and verifying My Vaccine Pass and can be downloaded from Google Play or the App Store.

Basic-needs businesses including dairies, supermarkets, pharmacies, petrol stations, health and disability services, public transport, schools and early learning service providers, and housing support services are not permitted to require vaccine passes from customers.


Do I have to require my employees to be vaccinated?

If your business or organisation is in a sector that is subject to a vaccine mandate order to allow members of the public into your premises, your employees must be vaccinated. Vaccination is also required for those workers in hospitality (unless it is takeaway only); close contact businesses (barbers, hairdressers, beauty parlours, nail salons, non-medical massage etc); entertainment, recreation, and exercise businesses; and healthcare practices (including pharmacies).

Useful information  on vaccination and employment can be found on the Worksafe website.


What do I do if someone refuses to comply with the vaccine pass requirements?

If someone refuses to provide their vaccine pass, you can refuse them entry. Plan how you will manage this process safely as refusing entry could cause some customers to become agitated.


What do I do if one of my employees has lied about their vaccination status?

You will need to follow normal employment procedure practices.  Lying about vaccination status could lead to misconduct allegations.

Can I ask my employees if they are vaccinated?

Employers are allowed to keep a register of employees’ vaccination status if they have reasonable grounds to do so. Employees can refuse to disclose their status, in which case, employers are allowed to assume the employee is unvaccinated - they must inform the employee of this assumption before taking any action.


What if my business is subject to the vaccine mandate?

If the work being carried out is subject to the vaccine mandate but your employee does not wish to be vaccinated, you can put the employee on paid notice and terminate employment.  Seek advice on the exact steps you need to take if you wish to do this. The Government has passed legislation that provides a minimum four-week paid notice period when employees have their employment agreements terminated because they are not vaccinated.

What if I can’t afford to have someone on the door checking vaccine passes?

Record keeping and scanning is required at all levels of the traffic light system, and you must comply with the new rules if you want to keep operating.

If you do not want to use My Vaccine Passes, then you must clearly communicate what settings you are operating under and display any required signage and follow the rules relating to not requiring My Vaccine Passes.


How do I calculate how many people I can have in my premises?

If My Vaccine Passes are used, most hospitality and close contact businesses can operate with public health requirements if the region is at red. Capacity is restricted to up to 100 people based on 1 metre distancing (or whichever is the lesser) per defined space. This means the maximum number of people who could occupy the space if each person was 1 metre apart. Customers must be seated and separated in bars, cafes, community clubs, nightclubs, and restaurants.


Can I hold a staff Christmas event?

Some larger companies have chosen not to have staff Christmas parties this year as vaccine passes must be used by everyone to get into bars and restaurants.  If you are holding a Christmas party with more than 50 people, and you are inviting partners, all people attending must be vaccinated.  You might like to consider whether having to require this will be divisive to your team.


What do I have to do if one of my team gets Covid-19?

If one of your team is sick with Covid-19 or is required to self-isolate, the first thing you need to do as an employer is look after people, contain Covid-19 and protect public health.

Employers should not knowingly allow a worker to come into work if they are sick with Covid-19 or required to self-isolate – to do so would be a breach of your duties under the Health and Safety at Work Act, which could result in a prosecution or fine.

You may be told by your employee directly or notified by the local Public Health Unit (PHU) and should take the following steps:

  • Inform any Health and Safety Managers in your organisation
  • Isolate spaces that this person may have spent time in
  • Ensure cleaning is undertaken before the spaces are used again
  • Follow PHU advice on communication to employees and customers
  • Assist as required with the contract tracing process
  • Support any other staff identified as a contact of a confirmed case who needs to self-isolate or stay at home
  • Consider store or site closure – in conjunction with advice from a PHU official
  • Follow PHU advice on any additional requirements
  • You may be able to apply for the Covid-19 Leave Support Scheme to support your employee.


Where do I find accurate information about all these rules and any changes? has some useful information on the Covid-19 traffic light system. The framework summary provides more clarity specifically for businesses in accommodation services; close contact services; entertainment/recreation/exercise; events; food and beverage; manufacturing; primary industries; public facilities; retail; services; and transport/freight/logistics. also has some good information to help businesses navigate their responsibilities.

Business & Commercial Business advisory