Covid-19 Local Government Response Unit Update - Wednesday 16 February 2022

Local Government Response Unit main page

Here is today’s update:

Phase Two

With the Country now being in Phase Two of the Omicron Management Strategy we have a reminder of what to expect in Phase Two

  • Isolation periods for cases of COVID-19 are reduced to ten days
  • Isolation periods for contacts are reduced to seven days
  • Rapid Antigen Testing will be used for critical workers who are close contacts of cases
  • The prime focusing of testing and tracing will be to ensure protection of this critical workforce as well as those most vulnerable to becoming severely unwell
  • In Phase Two we will see widespread use of the Close Contact Exemption scheme
  • We have included a reminder of who is defined as a close contact below
  • We have included a tool that can be used by councils/workplaces to help determine close contacts, here contact_categorisations_spreadsheet_for_workplaces.xlsx (XLSX, 35KB)

A reminder of the definitions of close contact

Household close contact if you:

  • All household members who live with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 (a case) are household Close Contacts.

All other close contacts

You are considered a close contact if you have:

  • Been close (within 1.5 metres) to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 for more than 15 minutes and they were not wearing a mask or was not wearing it properly,
  • Had direct contact with respiratory secretions or saliva from the person with COVID-19 (eg, kissing, shared a cigarette, vape or drink bottle, or if the person coughed or sneezed directly on you) 
  • Spent time in an indoor space for more than 1 hour with the person with COVID-19 AND at least one of the following: 
    • the person with COVID-19 was singing, shouting, smoking, vaping, exercising, or dancing
    • the person with COVID-19 was not wearing a mask or wasn’t wearing it properly
    • the indoor space was poorly ventilated (i.e., there were no windows or doors open)
    • the indoor space was smaller than 100m2 (about three double garages)

A reminder about the critical service worker contact exemption

  • The close contact exemption scheme is to assist in keeping critical supply chains running through the Omicron outbreak
  • This exemption to the close contact self-isolation requirements does not apply if the person is a confirmed case or if the person is displaying Covid symptoms.
  • Businesses and organisations need to register online as a critical service, if they think that they will meet the criteria when New Zealand enters Phase 2 of the Omicron outbreak.
  • It is important that Councils complete the registration for critical workers and Rapid Antigen Tests allocation and distribution. The self-assessment tool/registration link is under the ‘Close Contact Exemption Scheme’ at the website here
  • During Phases Two and Three of the Omicron response, workers at registered critical services who are vaccinated and asymptomatic close contacts of a COVID-19 case will be able to continue to work, as long as they return a negative rapid antigen test prior to each day/shift they are at work during the isolation period and follow specific health protocols. They will only be allowed to go to work – not anywhere else.

Critical services include: 

  • Food production and manufacturing
  • Distribution and sale of basic food (eg supermarkets, dairies, food banks)
  • Principal accommodation (eg providing people with their primary residence, such as their home, an apartment in a hotel, social/emergency housing, or a self-isolation location)
  • Health services, including pharmacies and services provided for deceased persons
  • Central and local government services and decision making
  • COVID-19 response services
  • Managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) services
  • Justice sector and key regulatory functions
  • Emergency services
  • Other critical public services that will cause significant social, economic or physical harm to the community if temporarily closed
  • Lifeline utilities (including waste)
  • Transport and logistics
  • Critical financial services
  • News media
  • Social welfare services
  • Businesses or organisation involved in the maintenance of the following critical sector businesses or services (e.g. part of the supply chain, a necessary ancillary service, or supervising dependants of workers in critical sectors in a childcare or education context)
    • Basic human needs - Food production and manufacturing, distribution and sale of basic food, provision of principal accommodation, or health services, including services provided for deceased persons
    • Key public services - Central and local government services and decision making, COVID-19 response services, Managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) services, Justice sector and key regulatory functions, Emergency services
    • Support systems and services - Lifeline utilities, transport, critical financial services, news media, and social welfare

Important things business need to know and consider when registering

  • If they are a sole trader and do not have an NZBN, they can simply add their business name
  • Address details are required for each location that they may have critical workers at (select a region, can add multiple locations
  • Businesses may need to select a sub category. They will need to know which category they fit into and the reason they fit into that category. Business can also upload supporting PDFs
  • Businesses need to include the total number of workers in the business (not just the ones who might be critical workers
  • The number of critical workers at each location that has been listed
  • There is a summary screen and they will have to digitally sign a declaration confirming their details. Followed a confirmation screen
  • They will receive an email advising that they are on the register. This will contain a unique ID. This email will be one of the documents that is required when a worker is collecting a RAT

To access the Close Contact Exemption Scheme:

  • Councils can use the self- assessment tool at  to see if they meet the criteria for being critical (more info on criteria below). 
  • Councils should nominate a person to start the applications process for their organisation and register through the Close Contact Exemption Scheme Registration Portal at
  • Once registered, the Council will be issued with a letter that, when New Zealand shifts to Phase Two of the Omicron response, will enable eligible workers to either use rapid antigen tests that the Council may hold (unlikely), or collect rapid antigen tests from a collection site (most likely).
  • Not all roles in Councils will be identified as critical and cannot be undertaken from home so Councils will need to work through a process to determine what roles qualify.
  • Councils will then be able to supply their critical workers with an authorisation letter for the worker to be able to collect their RATs if required.
  • Workers will get enough testing kits to cover the period they would have been isolating, and the places they can pick them up from will be put on the Healthpoint website.
  • There is more information attached and on the Ministry Health website about Critical Worker Guidance and Rapid Antigen Testing (RATs) critical_worker_guidance_final_v.2.pdf (

While the worker is in the workplace the following safety protocols must be complied with:

  • Daily symptom check and daily RAT testing is required before entering the workplace.
  • Strict use of a medical mask, donned -  before entry to the workplace, changed as needed during the day and strictly complying with any infection prevention and control protocols at work.
  • When mask is removed (e.g., for eating and drinking) physical distancing must be maintained; eating alone in a well-ventilated space, outdoors where possible.
  • Travel solo, to, from and around work or between jobs where possible.
  • Ensure good ventilation when in small spaces and masks must be worn by everyone present.
  • Continue regular workplace surveillance testing if this is already in place.
  • If symptoms develop at any stage, follow the public advice for close contacts with symptoms:
  • The worker must self-isolate at home, away from other household members, as per standard close contact advice, including testing if applicable:

Bubble of One

  • ‘Bubble of one’ Allows workers to return to work if they can remain isolated while working. It is likely to be less relevant to Councils unless you have staff that work on their own in a defined space where no others are present.

To use ‘Bubble of One’:

  • All services and businesses can use the “Bubble of One’ for any worker (regardless of whether they are critical workers or not). They must however meet the following criteria:
    • Vaccinated
    • They are asymptomatic
    • Able to maintain an individual “Bubble of One” at work, indoors or outdoors (they cannot be customer facing and they cannot use public transport)
  • Workers must be working in an indoor or outdoor defined space under the order, where no others are present in that space.

What do workers need to do while at work?

  • Strict use of a medical mask, donned before entry to the workplace, changed as needed during the day and complying with any infection prevention and control protocols at work.
  • The worker must eat alone in a well-ventilated space, outdoors where possible
  • The worker should use a dedicated bathroom. If this is not possible no others should be present in the bathroom.
  • If symptoms develop at any stage, follow the public advice for close contacts with symptoms 
  • Continue regular workplace surveillance testing if this is already in place

What do workers do when not at work?

  • If you are a close contact and have returned to work under either the close contact exemption scheme or the bubble of one scheme you must self-isolate at home when you are not at work as per standard close contact rules, including testing if possible
  • Current requirements are available at   

Taituarā webinar

Thank you to those who have attended today’s webinar hosted by Taituarā. We will endeavour to get information from the webinar out to you as soon as it is available