This update shares key information about the Government’s response to COVID-19. There are some key things to note:

• Aotearoa New Zealand will move to Phase 2 of the Omicron plan from 11:59pm today.

• The close contact exemption scheme commences at Phase 2.

• Booster rollout completed in all aged residential care facilities.

• At Phase 2, the period of self-isolation for people who test positive for COVID-19 reduces from 14 to 10 days. The period of self-isolation for their household contacts reduces to 10 days too, unless they themselves test positive.

• The period of self-isolation for close contacts reduces from 10 to 7 days. That includes at MIQ, noting that there will be a transition period.

• Asymptomatic, vaccinated, close contacts working in registered critical service businesses can keep going to work instead of isolating if they return a daily negative rapid antigen test.

• Once a business is signed up to the close contact exemption scheme, an employee who is a close contact without symptoms will be able to go to a provider such as a community vaccination clinic and secure a pack of 10 rapid antigen tests.

• For answers to frequently asked questions about Omicron phase 2 please click here.

There are several updates with regards to the Close Contact Exemption Scheme as follows:-

 • This is for vaccinated critical workers only. Critical work is that which is required to be undertaken in person at a workplace, and which must continue to avoid immediate impacts to life and health.

 • There is risk involved in bringing close contacts into your workplace as they may have Covid-19 and infect other workers. This could further compromise business continuity. 

 • Businesses will be able to self-assess using the tool on Business.govt.nz website. The tool walks you through a series of questions regarding the sectors served, and the impacts of closure (economic, social or physical) on the community.

 • Registration for the scheme requires a RealMe login

 • Businesses will receive a letter from the Critical Services Register, recording that they have declared themselves as a critical service. It will contain a unique identifier for the business. 

 • RAT tests can be provided to the worker by the business or collected from a Ministry of Health Distribution Hub (will be listed on Healthpoint).  

To access MoH tests workers will need two documents from the business; a copy of the letter from the Critical Services Register and an authorisation letter. The authorisation letter must include the following: 

  • A declaration that the business and worker are critical, with a rationale (businesses may include the output of the self-assessment tool).  
  • An outline of the protocols the worker will need to follow to mitigate transmission risks.
  • The business’s unique identifier from the Critical Services Register letter. 
  • The worker’s workplace identification (if they have one). 

Workers receiving RAT tests from their employer should still be sent the critical worker authorisation letter, as this is evidence that the worker has an exemption from their self-isolation requirements for the purposes of working.  Workers must remain in isolation outside of work hours and follow all applicable isolation and testing requirements. 

 There are also updates around the ‘bubble of one’: 

• Vaccinated and asymptomatic close contacts may be allowed back in their workplace if a ‘bubble of one’ can be maintained (including travel to and from work). 

• RAT tests are not required as part of this, and businesses do not need to register (or be critical).

• Detailed requirements around the protocols that the worker must follow can be found here at Bubble of One for Workers who are Close Contacts. 

• As with the critical worker scheme there is an elevated risk of bringing covid into your business, that could further compromise business continuity. We recommend only using this where necessary for business continuity.