COVID-19 Alert Level 3: What travel is permitted

One of the consistent questions I have been getting is what travel is and isn’t allowed under Alert Level 3.

The guidance on some government sites has ambiguous or conflicting information, which has caused some confusion.

So, I thought it best to clarify our understanding. The government’s site says you can travel for work at Alert Level 3 as follows:

  • everyone can travel for work within their region, or to a neighbouring region

  • you should only travel if it is necessary

  • essential workers can travel outside of their regions, where it is necessary to do so

For the avoidance of doubt “Regions” means the area of the Civil Defence Emergency Management Group (under the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2002) of which the relevant territorial authority is a member. View a map of the regions

Seems pretty simple right?

While this initial interpretation is relatively simple, it’s slightly different to what is stated on the Ministry of Transport’s site, which is somewhat more restrictive. See the Ministry of Transport’s guidance

So, what’s the correct position? 

To ensure clarity of guidance for members, we took a look at the Health Act (COVID-19 Alert Level 3) Order 2020. Special thanks to Geoff Milsom from Pattle Delamore Partners for bringing this to our attention. The order is the authoritative legal source and says:

Permissions for essential personal movement or recreation

A person is permitted to do any of the following as essential personal movement:


leave their home or place of residence for the purpose of providing a business or service that has the relevant infection control measures in operation (or to do necessary work at any premises under clause 9(3)) if the business or service is—

(i)                  in the same or an adjacent region; or

(ii)                 in another region to the extent that doing so is necessary for the purpose of a business or service listed in Part 3 of Schedule 2 (and, if necessary, stay in temporary accommodation in that region), and then return”

In short, this means:

Your staff can travel:

  • Within the same region for any business or service work;

  • To and within an adjacent region for any business or service work; and

  • To and within a non-adjacent region where doing so is necessary for providing a service to clients that are listed in Part 3 of Schedule 2 of the Health Act Order

The majority of work done by ACE New Zealand members would be for clients listed in Part 3 of Schedule 2. However, before you travel, you should:

  • Check to see if your client organisation comes under the businesses or services listed

  • Check directly with your client to confirm their interpretation

Ensure you play your part

As we have previously outlined, new industry health and safety standards and protocols for operating under COVID-19 alert levels have been developed and released by Construction Health and Safety New Zealand (CHASNZ). View the standards and protocols

So, in any work, please ensure that you are working in-line with the protocols.

If we all support and comply with the protocols, we can avoid returning to Alert Level 4 and give ourselves the best chance of moving back to Alert Levels 2 and 1 as soon as possible.

Paul Evans
ACE New Zealand Chief Executive