Covid-19 Local Government Response Unit Update - Thursday 24 February 2022

Local Government Response Unit main page

Today’s update:

Key messages for today are:

The Government announced earlier today that the country will shift into Phase Three of the Omicron Management Strategy at 11:59 tonight

The rest of this “5:15” repeats the information that we provided yesterday.  We also have had a few queries about contradictory information on websites, this is due to how quickly things have moved so if you do come across official Government websites that are contradictory then please let us know so we can pass this onto the website owners to have fixed.

There is no change to the Covid Protection Framework or traffic light system. New Zealand remains in the red light setting, businesses can operate as normal at red with some additional measures in place. People are encouraged to work from home if practicable at phase three.

At phase three the system moves into increasingly self-management of COVID-19 with increased reliance on self-reporting and changes to who needs to self-isolate.

Councils should be focussing on strong infection control process and measures (masks and distancing) especially as close contacts will no longer need to self-isolate.

In Phase Three

Confirmed cases are required to isolate for 10 days and will self-release after day 10, providing that testing requirements are met.

Close contacts are not required to self-isolate under phase three. As such, they will no longer use the close contact exemption scheme or have the same use for Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs).

Household contacts who live in the same house as infected cases will still be required to self-isolate.

Household contacts will need to get tested on day three and day ten. If they develop symptoms, they are encouraged to test sooner. Their entire household should be symptom free before being able to self-release. 

Because household contacts are required by law to self-isolate they can use the close contact exemption scheme to return to work if they are asymptomatic and meet the requirements of the scheme (i.e. are critical workers)

Additional information can be found at the Unite Against Covid website. If you need health advice contact your normal health provider such as your GP or ring Healthline on 0800 358 5453

Continued key health messages and infection control

With the increased number of Omicron cases in the community it is important to remember key health messages to help keep your staff safe from infection

Stay home if you are sick. This applies regardless of any exemption – if you have cold, flu, or COVID-19 symptoms, you should get tested. You must stay home until you get a negative result. Call your doctor or Healthline on 0800 358 5453

Councils are encouraged to use physical distancing where possible to ensure that staff remain safe. Also ensure that surfaces such as desks, door handles, phones, and light switches are cleaned and sanitised regularly.

Continue to wear face masks whenever you leave the house. The Ministry of Health notes that as a rule, face masks should be used whenever you are inside, with exceptions for your home and place of work if you are not public facing. Public facing employees are encouraged to wear masks. Informal advice from the Ministry of Health has recommended that as part of good infection control processes, people working in open plan offices with others should consider wearing masks.

If you are not symptomatic you do not need a test Positive RAT results do not need to be confirmed with a PCR test unless advised.

Millions of RATs now distributed around the country to testing sites, GPs, pharmacies and within workplaces, RATs will become the primary form of testing.

You can now access a RAT from hundreds of locations around the country, making getting a test much easier and over coming days the number of access points will increase significantly.

You can report your RAT result on My COVID Record or call 0800 222 478.

Approved RATs will soon be able to be sold to the public for purchase through retail outlets.

PCR test results are notified by text and directed to the online self-investigation tool. There is additional support for those who don’t have access to digital tools.

Changes to the Close Contact Exemption Scheme

The Close Contact Exemption scheme will still be in place under phase three but will only apply to household contacts

The government has simplified the documentation required by critical workers assessing rapid antigen tests under the Close Contact Exemption Scheme. This includes changes to the email that businesses receive after they self-register as a critical service through The email registration now includes a declaration template which businesses can complete for each critical worker who will need to access Rapid Antigen Tests

Self-identification as a Close Contact or Household Contact will become more important.  You can self-identify by going to the Location of Interest visit form, and typing ‘Critical’ in to the ‘Find a Location of Interest’ box. When you have found the corresponding date you were last exposed and select critical Worker exposure (self-identified) option. You will receive a text confirming your registration as close contact (usually within three hours)

Assistance and support available should you or your staff need to isolate

The Care in the Community approach aims to assist people with COVID-19 through the illness and reduce the risk of transmission.

Most people will be able to manage self-isolation with help from friends and whānau, however for those who require extra support if you have COVID-19 or are self-isolating - there is help available.

MSD also has a range of financial assistance through the COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme and the COVID-19 Short-Term Absence Payment which local government staff can apply for if they are required to isolate and miss work