Covid-19 Information

Covid-19 Information

Information for managing your business under the COVID-19 alert levels.

The New Zealand government has introduced a four-level alert system to guide behaviour as the country attempts to eliminate Covid-19.  Farming and the growing of food, production, transport, processing and sale of food and beverage is recognised as an essential service. This includes the provision of services essential to farmers and growers operating their businesses. Infection rates are dropping in New Zealand due to the measures put in place.  Everybody needs to continue to observe the requirements under each alert level to help eliminate the disease from New Zealand.  

Guidance for farmers: Safe working plans >>

What farm activities are permitted >>

Ways to maintain good hygiene >>

Essential Services Employee's Movement declaration >>

Market update >>

Guidance for farmers: Keep your family and your workers safe:

Please encourage your workers and your family to take this seriously. Avoid contact with people who are unwell, maintaining a 2-metre distance between staff at all times and increase personal hygiene measures.

Hand cleaning with soap products and surface disinfectants are very effective. Note that if using alcohol sanitisers, they need to be used on dry hands (not with water) to be effective.

Guidance for farm businesses on steps that should be taken to keep farmers and workers safe can be viewed here: Guidance for farmers: Safe working plans >>

What farm activities are permitted?

  • Alert Level 3: farming and other primary sector businesses and support services can operate, as long as they can do so safely. Businesses providing support services to the primary sector provided they can operate safely, include (but not limited to)
    • farriers, fencers, pest management operators (including vector control), rural contractors, farm advisors, research and science services, wholesalers, firewood suppliers, timber manufacturers and suppliers, farm property sales agents, construction of farm sheds, barns and herd homes, routine plant, farm and gear maintenance, manufacture, distribution and application of agricultural input products, production and installation of frost protection fans
    • Stock sales, wool sales and auctions (public must not attend) should be run online where possible.
    • Retail businesses can operate, only if they can offer contactless delivery or pre-arranged collection. Eligible businesses include agricultural supply stores, pet stores, butcher shops, bakeries and greengrocers, restaurants, cafes, takeaways and cellar doors
  • Alert Levels 1 and 2: farming and other primary sector businesses and support services can operate, as long as they can do so safely.
  • Restrictions on gatherings will also apply, but field days and other events may be held as long as travel is local, physical distancing is followed and contact tracing is applied.

Risk elimination

Like all businesses, farms are obliged to eliminate transmission risks where possible. Where elimination is not possible farms and businesses need to substitute work practices or provide as higher level of control as possible. There is an expectation that farms and businesses maintain, or create new, practices that meet or exceed the MoH guidelines as they are updated. Latest COVID-19 health guidelines can be found here.

Ways to maintain good hygiene


  • Staff should be given information on when and how to wash or sanitise their hands and should be given opportunities to do this regularly. This includes that they should wash or sanitise their hands at the beginning and end of the day, before and after breaks, and after coughing or sneezing. See more information on good hand-washing.
  • Staff working around surfaces also touched by others should be washing their hands at least once an hour. Ensure there are enough staff on hand to enable this to happen and that corners are not cut due to a lack of staff.
  • High frequency areas such as milking related areas, woolsheds or farm vehicles should have access to hand sanitiser to use between use.


  • Ideally workers should change overalls or work clothing at work.
  • Once home, before having any physical contact with others, workers should remove work clothing and put them into a hot wash.
  • Provide additional overalls or relax farm branded clothing policies in order to ensure this can be done practicably by workers.

Personal protective equipment

  • Gloves must be provided where they are required for tasks like cleaning or where workers are touching high touch surfaces. Staff may want to wear disposable gloves when touching high touch surfaces.
  • Although this is not a Ministry of Health requirement, providing masks for workers to wear on an optional basis might make them and other staff feel reassured.
  • Workers must be told how to use and dispose of PPE correctly. See the COVID-19 website

Essential Services Movement Declaration

If New Zealand reverts to Alert Level 4, Police have the power to stop people who are not undertaking essential business. Travel for workers and contractors will be helped if they are carrying a letter from their employer describing the nature of their business. A template of the letter can be downloaded here >>

Market Update:

DINZ will provide regular updates on the impact of COVD-19 on the markets for our deer products: 

20/5/2020 - Marketers of New Zealand farm-raised venison are making a concerted push to build sales through on-line outlets and through gourmet retailers. This gourmet product, normally sold mainly through food service distributors to chefs, has been particularly hard-hit by the sound of restaurant doors slamming shut around the globe.  Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) chief executive Innes Moffat says Covid-related restaurant shut-downs created a crisis for their food service suppliers and the farmers that supply them. Demand from chefs for NZ farm-raised venison – one of the industry’s greatest assets – overnight became a vulnerability. The full article is here>>

16/04/2020 - These are unprecedented, rapidly-changing times with some bumps occurring in our overseas markets. Deer Industry News writer Ali Spencer looks ahead at prospects for our main products.  Venison and velvet processors and marketers are dealing with disrupted routes and capacity issues. On the plus side, the situation has happened towards the end of the venison production season and at the tail-end of the velvet season. Foodservice and hospitality have been taking the most strain initially, including in European and US markets. Venison and velvet buyers are placing orders for delivery later in the year, but conditions remain very uncertain. The probability of a global recession is growing, along with a likelihood of a negative impact on consumer spending across all our markets. The full article is available here>>

27/03/2020 - Market conditions are tough for venison in March 2020. Restaurants in Europe, China and North America are being ordered to close so importers and distributors are winding back on their orders of chilled venison. Processing companies are implementing new regimes to operate safely according to the new guidelines, but this does mean a slow down of processing capacity. DINZ urges all farmers to be checking with their venison processors regularly to determine killing space for priority stock. Velvet marketers are hopeful of a resumption of trade as key outlets in China and North Korea appear to be reopening following their lockdown periods. But the situation is fluid and the scale of the resumption is uncertain. An in-depth market report can be read here >>

Above all

Keep safe and keep clear.

Make sure everybody in your and your employees’ house keeps a 2-metre distance from others as much as possible.

If you or someone you know needs some help with managing this stressful situation, we encourage you to reach out to your friends, networks, professional colleagues or support lines.

FarmStrong >>

Rural Support Trust >>