Government releases list of essential services

The Government has released a list of essential services which will continue to operate as New Zealand ramps up to alert level four.

It comes after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has raised New Zealand to alert level three immediately and the country will move to level four in 48 hours.

Ardern said New Zealand faced the potential for devastating impacts, but there was a "small window to get ahead of it". 

The measures associated with the alert levels will be in place for four weeks.

Schools are to be closed for all except children of essential service workers. Schools will close to all pupils after Wednesday. 

"Now is the time to put our plans into action. We are fortunate to be in some way behind the majority of overseas countries in terms of cases ... but act now or risk the virus taking hold."

She said the situation was moving at pace "and so must we".


Entities providing essential services (including their supply chains)


  • Accommodation services for essential workers and people who need to be isolated/quarantined


  • Customs New Zealand, Immigration New Zealand and the Ministry for Primary Industries

Building and construction

  • Building and construction related to essential services, critical infrastructure, or immediately needed to maintain human health and safety at home/work

Courts, tribunals and the justice system

  • Courts of New Zealand and tribunals

  • Critical Crown entities (eg Electoral Commission) 


At level 3 only:

  • Schools and educational facilities (e.g. ECE centres)

Fast-moving consumer goods

  • Businesses involved in the supply, delivery, distribution and sale of food, beverage and other key consumer goods (but not takeaway shops)

Financial services

  • Banks, insurers and other financial institutions


  • Hospitals, primary care clinics, pharmacies, medical laboratories, care facilities

  • Ambulance services

  • Mortuary services

Local and national government

  • Any entity involved in COVID-19 response or that has civil defence/emergency management functions

  • Key public services

Primary industries, including food and beverage production and processing

  • Packaging, production and processing of food and beverage products

  • Food safety and verification, inspection or associated laboratory services, food safety and biosecurity functions

  • Veterinary and animal health/welfare services

Public safety and national security

  • Emergency services

  • Security and intelligence services

  • Justice system

  • Public safety and national security roles


  • Any entity (including research organisations) involved in COVID-19 response, hazard monitoring, resilience, diagnostics for essential services

Social services

  • Welfare and social services, including NGOs, which meet immediate needs (further guidance will be provided)

Transport and logistics

  • Transport services

  • New Zealand Post and courier services 

  • Any small passenger service vehicle driver – including taxis and ride-share services

Utilities and communications, including supply chains

  • Electricity, gas, water, waste, fuel, telecommunication services, internet providers and media


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