COVID-19 update for horticulture - 18 August

10 Aug 2020 COVID-19 update for horticulture - 18 August image

Table of contents:

-   HortNZ updates
-   Key links and resources
-   Who to contact at HortNZ

- Operating safely in the field and packhouse
      -  Growers in Auckland
      -  MPI guidance
      -  Movement declaration - NZ Police
      -  Essential Services Information
      -  QR Code Posters
      -  Contact tracing register
      -  Health and Safety
-  RSE workers

-  Seasonal worker update
      -  Visas
      -  Translated Pacific Resources
-  Wellbeing
      -  Food safety
      -  Mental health
-  Advice for employers
      -  Government Support
      -  Business advice and support
      -  Wage subsidy
      -  Business cashflow and tax
      -  Jobs


Covid information summary 

Throughout the Covid lockdown, HortNZ worked with product groups and government departments to ensure that growers could continue to grow, harvest, process and sell fruit and vegetables, in New Zealand and overseas.  This page is a summary of information that is still relevant.   

The weekly HortNZ newsletter publishes the latest industry news, including any Covid updates. Click here to signup to the HortNZ newsletter. 

12 August:
Click here
to view the 12 August update.


Key links and resources

The New Zealand Government’s official Covid website has been renamed to 'Unite for the Recovery' from COVID-19. Click here to access this site.
The government's COVID-19 website contains all the latest government announcements and health information. Click here to view the current alert level information.

Immigration New Zealand is regularly updating its website. Click here to access their site. 

Click here to go to Ministry of Health Covid information. This includes symptoms and how to identify COVID-19, self-isolation, signs for workplaces in various languages, and more.

Identifying symptoms:
Click here to view a chart to help identify COVID-19 from a cold or the flu.

Who to contact at HortNZ:
Click here to view the list of Horticulture New Zealand staff contacts.


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Operating safely in the field and packhouse

Growers in Auckland

For growers in the Auckland region, there are two letters which all essential horticulture workers should carry with them in order to work during Alert Level 3 and to cross the Auckland border.  NZ Police are advising that you must have documentation to show Police officers and to support why you need to leave or enter Auckland.

Please note, the online form that HortNZ sent out on 17 August requesting business details of those in the area for Ministry of Health does not confirm exemption. HortNZ is using these details to provide a list of core growing businesses directly involved in growing fresh vegetables and fruit, who have staff that need to cross the Auckland border.  Once checked by the Ministry of Health, this list of businesses will be gazetted and used by NZ Police when they check people crossing in or out of Auckland. 

When the Ministry of Health has scrutinised and approved the final list for gazetting (passing into regulation), we will ask them if we can advise businesses of their status.

Confirmation letters 

There are two letters that all essential horticulture workers must carry with them in order to work during Alert Level 3 and cross the Auckland border.  NZ Police is advising that workers must have this documentation so they can prove to Police officers that they need to enter or leave Auckland.

Letter 1: Ministry of Health Exemption Letter

This letter from the Ministry of Health provides the exemption for horticulture (and dairy factory) workers to enter and leave Auckland during Alert Level 3. 

The letter can only be used for horticulture essential services and is to show to police that horticulture is considered as an essential service and workers are allowed to travel across the Auckland border when necessary.

The letter was sent to growers through the HortNZ newsletter. If you did not receive this, please email


Letter 2: Movement declaration form

Employers are advised by NZ Police to provide employees with this form for staff travelling to and from work. The declaration letter declares who you work for, where you are travelling, as well as employer information. Please adapt the letter to your needs.

Click here to download this declaration form.


MPI guidance

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has issued guidance for the horticulture industry on operating under Alert Level 3. 

New Zealand Apples and Pears and New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated have worked closely with MPI to produce this guidance. 

Click here to view the guidance on operating under COVID-19.

Click here to access the MPI COVID-19 information portal.

Click here to view the diagram on social distancing and transport.


Movement declaration - NZ Police

The NZ Police has issued the recommendation that people working in essential services should carry with them their driver's licence and a letter that declares who you work for, where you are travelling, as well as employer information.

Click here to download the essential service employee movement declaration form.


Essential Services Information

Horticulture, the production and harvest of fruit and vegetables, as well as necessary associated services, are considered as essential services for COVID-19 Alert Level 4. All orchards, farms, packhouses, cool stores, export entities are essential services.


QR Code Posters

The Prime Minister announced on Wednesday 12 August that all businesses must display an NZ COVID Tracer QR code from 11:59am on Wednesday 19 August. This is in addition to any other sign in protocols that you may have on your sites.

Click here to get your QR code poster.

You will need your NZ Business Number and an NZ drivers licence to complete the application. 

You will need to create a separate poster for each of your sites or unique locations but can print as many copies of each poster as you need. Print your posters in A4 and in colour (if possible). Posters should be displayed in prominent locations next to EVERY site entrance. Place them where it easy for people to reach them to scan the code without creating an obstruction. Click here for more tips from the Ministry of Health.

Contact tracing register

You should also have a contact tracing register at your business for people who cannot use the NZ COVID Tracer app.

Click here for more free COVID-19 posters for your workplace.


Health and Safety

Learn more about the Health and Safety responsibilities of employers operating essential service businesses during COVID-19 Alert Level 4, and the consequences of not meeting health and safety obligations.

Find out more here.  


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RSE workers

Click here for up-to-date information for RSE workers from Immigration NZ.

Seasonal worker update

The combined horticulture groups continue to hold meetings with Government Ministers, Immigration New Zealand and Ministry for Social Development (MSD) to ensure there is maximum flexibility to access New Zealand and seasonal workers for this season. This includes other categories of visa holders such as working holiday scheme and student visas.

You are advised to:

  1. Submit ATRs on the basis the borders are open with the Pacific (or open sufficiently with employer provided quarantine) as you have in previous years. (This does not include Asian RSE workers as no one knows when these borders will effectively open for RSE workers.)
  2. Submit ATRs and Visa extension applications for RSE workers who have not been able to get home that you have work for.

The Work the Seasons website is being updated to include a page for the employment of RSE workers who have not been able to get home. This is to facilitate finding work for those still in the country.

The issue that both Government (Immigration and MSD) and us face is the uncertainty as to how many New Zealanders will be available and willing to work in horticulture and viticulture, and how much movement there will be across the border. Planning is underway with the Government and updates will be provided through this weekly HortNZ newsletter.



Holders of an RSE Limited Visa with an expiry date of 2 April to 9 July 2020 inclusive who are in New Zealand on 2 April 2020 have had their visas automatically extended to 25 September 2020.

Confirmation of extensions were emailed to all visa holders. The conditions on the visa at the time of the extension still apply.


Translated Pacific Resources

The Ministry for Pacific Peoples has put together a range of translated material for Pacific workers which can be view here.    


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Food Safety

New Zealand Food Safety Science and Research Centre (NZFSSRC) and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) have stated that there is no evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted by food or food packaging. 

Click here to view the findings of NZFSSRC.  NZFSSRC and United Fresh continue to monitor available scientific literature.  You can view United Fresh's 8 April update here.


Mental Health

These continue to be uncertain times for many New Zealanders.  It is important to stay connected and talk about how things are going, and how you and the people around you are feeling.

The Mental Health Foundation has put together some practical advice. Click here to view.  

The Ministry of Health has also launched the Getting Through Together mental health promotion campaign, which is focused on things we can all do to maintain our mental health and wellbeing. 

Where to get help with how you or others are feeling: 

If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call the Police immediately on 111.

If you feel you are not coping, it is important to talk with a health professional. For support with grief, anxiety, distress or mental wellbeing, you can call or text 1737 – free, anytime, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – to talk with a trained counsellor.  

Other options include: 
RURAL SUPPORT: 0800 787 254
LIFELINE: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
SUICIDE CRISIS HELPLINE: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633
KIDSLINE: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
WHATSUP: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
DEPRESSION.ORG.NZ: 0800 111 757 text 4202


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Advice for employers

Click here to view the summary of business support available - as at Tuesday 18 August. 

Government Support

The Government has put together financial support packages and other support measures to help businesses through these uncertain times.

HortNZ has collated available information, which it will update when things change or are altered. 

Covid financial support tool
The tool will take you, step by step, through a series of questions to find out what financial help may be available to you. Employers, employees, self-employed and people who have lost their job due to Covid can all use this tool.


Business advice and support

Free specialist support (up to $2000) is being offered to businesses with 50 fulltime employees or less. This covers areas such as business continuity planning, finance and cash flow management, HR and staffing.

This initiative is being managed by the Regional Business Partner Network, the Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA) and the Canterbury Chamber of Employment and Commerce. 

Registration is by online application. Click here to access.

New helpline for businesses 
There is now a free helpline service for all New Zealand businesses. It can offer:
• specific advice and access to Government-funded business support
• advice on what Alert Level 3 means for your business
• general business advice and access to online resources and webinars
• connections to business advisory services
• HR, employee relations, and health and safety advice.

To find out more call 0800 500 362 (North Island), or 0800 50 50 96 (South Island).


Wage Subsidy Extension

The wage subsidy is to help keep businesses going if they facing revenue reductions because of COVID-19. If you’re an employer, contractor, sole trader or are self-employed you may qualify.

Click here to view more details.


Business cashflow and tax

Accounting support measures have been created to help with businesses cashflow and taxation. These measures include depreciation on commercial and industrial buildings; deductions for low value assets; increase in the threshold for small businesses having to pay provisional tax, and waiving interest and penalties on late tax payments for businesses affected by COVID-19. 

Click here to view more details.



Seasonal Work: Employers can list their seasonal vacancies on Work the Seasons, and anyone looking for seasonal work, should check the listings:

The Work the Seasons website is being updated to include a page for the employment of RSE workers who have not been able to get home.  This is to facilitate finding work for those still in the country.

Horticulture Careers: A new job board has been rolled out as part of the new GoHorticulture website.  The job board is free for businesses to list their vacancies.  Click here to view job listings and to post a vacancy.

For people wanting to know how they can join the horticulture industry, check out GoHorticulture:


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