New Zealand is at Alert Level 1.
Auckland City is at Alert Level 1, effective midday on 12 March 2021.

Here is where you can find information about:

 


Trading at Alert Level 1

Hygiene protocols: these remain important. Staff need to stay home if they are unwell. You will need to maintain good in-store hygiene and cleaning practices.

Social-distancing: Physical distancing requirements have ceased. You do not have to limit the number of customers in store, beyond the usual common sense and safety considerations. You are able to re-install any seating that you previously took away and remove any stickers and labels on the floor that you used to indicate 2-metre separation requirements.

Contact tracing: As under Level 2, you do not have to contact-trace customers. However, you must display a QR code for the government’s Covid-19 tracer app, which you can find here. The Ministry of Health has launched a quick way for businesses to generate NZ COVID Tracer QR code posters. All you need is a valid New Zealand driver licence to get started. Do it now if you haven’t already. Staff should continue to keep track of their hours for contact-tracing purposes.

Travel: Borders remain closed. This is be the most significant difference between Level 1 and the old normal. Until a Trans-Tasman “travel bubble” is implemented, we expect that this will continue to affect airfreight and supply chains.  Face masks are required on public transport for everyone over the age of 12 years.


Trading at Alert Level 2

Under Alert Level 2, you may operate if you can do so safely.  Alternative working arrangements are encouraged.

Gatherings are limited to one hundred people or fewer.

Social distancing rules apply.  Keep a 2 metre distance from people where possible.

The wearing of facemasks is recommended where physical distancing is not possible and mandatory on public transport.

Health & Safety requirements under Alert Level 2 
As a “person conducting a business or undertaking”, you have obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 to ensure the health and safety of workers and other people in the workplace so far as is reasonably practicable. 

Face masks are not required but are recommended when you are out and about in public. The Ministry of Health has guidance here on safe use of face masks.

Trading at Alert Level 2
We’ve done this before.  We can do it again.  Here are some reminders of what trading at Level 2 looks like:

Customers: You should manage customer entry and exit to achieve physical distancing. Customers must be kept at a 2-metre distance from other customers and from your staff. Contact tracking records are not required for customers but encourage them to use the Government’s Covid Tracing app and ensure you have your QR code obviously displayed.  Here is the info on how to generate a QR code poster for use at your shop: https://www.business.govt.nz/covid-19/contact-tracing  You will need a RealMe login and your NZ Business Number (NZBN).

Staff and other visitors: Staff must be kept at a 1-metre distance from each other and contact tracing records must be kept. This applies to other visitors such as reps and couriers.

This should be accompanied by good hygiene measures (such as hand hygiene and regular cleaning).

We have compiled the following advice for safe trading, based on advice given to bookshops by the UK Booksellers Association, a webinar by Retail NZ, and guidance from the NZ Government about Alert Level 2.  This guidance should be implemented in addition to all legal requirements for example the Health and Safety At Work Act 2015.

Social distancing outside and around your store

  • Place clear signage outside of the store explaining social distancing measures in place that customers should follow.
  • If your customers will need to wait or queue outside, place markings outside the store to assist correct queue spacings.
  • Consider whether temporary barriers should be available in case it is necessary to stop people joining a queue.
  • Speak to nearby premises to work together to manage possible shared queuing areas.
  • Shops in malls and shopping centres should discuss queue management with centre management to determine the best way to avoid congestion.
  • Consider whether security staff may be required to support staff.
  • Control entry and exit points from your store but remember to allow for emergency exits.

Social distancing inside your store

  • Limit the number of customers in the store. Assess the size of your store and its layout, this will enable you to calculate the number of customers who can reasonably follow 2 metre social distancing.  Retail NZ has advised that a good rule of thumb is to allow the number of customers instore at one time to be equivalent to 25% of your floor space (for example, a 100 square metre store could allow for 25 customers at one time).
  • Use a staff member to meet customers at the door, explain the social distancing requirements and control the number of customers entering store at any one time. 
  • Ensure you can contact trace all visitors (staff, and other workers, but not customers) to your store.  There is a register template available online here.  Ensure that registers are kept private, retained only for health purposes (not marketing), and in accordance with the Privacy Act.
  • Consider what steps will be taken by managers and staff where customers are not following social distancing measures.
  • Use floor markings inside to facilitate compliance with the social distancing advice of 2 metres, particularly in the most crowded areas and where queueing is likely.
  • Place clear signage throughout the store reminding customers of the social distancing measures and asking them to follow these rules.
  • Review the layout of the store to ensure aisles/walkways are as clear as possible to accommodate 2 metre social distancing, including the removal of promotional fixtures if necessary.
  • Consider one-way systems using floor markings and signage to highlight system and direction.
  • To limit congestion, consider restocking/replenishing only outside of store opening hours.
  • Schedule deliveries, if possible, to avoid crowding in delivery areas. Consider non-contact stock deliveries.
  • Encourage cashless and contactless purchases. Ensure that your merchant fees arrangement with your bank is on the most favourable terms - you may wish to update to a variable plan rather than a fixed plan.
  • Where tills are close together, consider closing every other till point.
  • Remove or limit customer seating in store. If seating is provided, space out appropriately.


Hygiene and cleaning inside your store

  • Provide cleaning stations at front of store including hand sanitiser, if available.
  • Schedule regular cleaning throughout the business day.
  • Clean any heatpump and/or airconditioning filters before using.
  • Identify and regularly clean key touch points eg, EFTPOS terminals, door handles, phones, lift buttons, keypads, stair/escalator handrails.
  • Consider whether it is safe to keep customer toilets open or if these should be available on request. If open, regular cleaning should include manual multi-person touch points such as door handles, flushes, taps. etc.
  • PPE, including facemasks, is only necessary for those working in clinical situations. However, if PPE is being used, it is important that it is used correctly to minimise the risk of infection. The use of such PPE does not replace or reduce the need to follow the government guidance in relation to hygiene practices.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available.
  • Wash your hands as soon as you get to work and when you arrive home, after you blow your nose, cough, or sneeze, before you eat or handle food.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze.
  • Put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards.


Keeping your staff safe

  • Ensure all staff are aware of the social distancing measures that are in place and trained on how they should support these measures being observed.
  • Remind staff that social distancing applies in all areas of the store, including non-customer facing areas.
  • Ensure regular and visible written or verbal communication of the government messages.
  • Remind staff not to come to work if they have symptoms. Send home any staff that appear unwell.
  • Provide additional pop-up handwashing stations or facilities if possible. Provide soap, water and hand sanitiser, if available.
  • Facilitate regular handwashing breaks for all staff.
  • Introduce frequent deep cleaning of work areas, with attention to multi contact points. For example, between shifts, staff change overs and/or during breaks.
  • Encourage use of disinfectant wipes to clean all equipment (phones, keyboards etc) before and after each use.
  • Stagger staff shift start, end and break times to avoid crowding.
  • Arrange shifts to maintain same the staff working together, where possible.
  • Offer staff alternative tasks if concerns are raised.
  • Remind staff not to share items, for example, pens, when signing in or out.
  • Public facing staff could be faced with difficult situations when trying to manage social distancing measures and other requirements. Staff should be supported when trying to manage and enforce government guidance and it is important that it is made clear to customers to treat staff with respect. This can be done through increased signage and the appropriate action where necessary. There must be a zero-tolerance approach to verbal and physical abuse from customers, with clear measures in place to protect staff and deal with abusive customers.


Employment requirements under Alert Level 2 

Remind staff that if they are unwell, they must stay home.

If your staff are working full-time, you must pay them for the hours worked. If they are working reduced hours, you will need to consult with them as this will constitute a change to their employment contract. 

Reducing hours 
Generally, if an employment agreement has the employee\'s hours of work, then the employer can’t change them without the employee\'s agreement. If the employment agreement says that an employer can change the hours of work, you still have to act fairly and reasonably before you do. Be sure to document in writing any agreements about reducing hours. 

In some situations, cutting back on an employee’s hours may be put forward as an alternative to redundancy. In these situations, you must follow the usual process for organisational change, which includes giving your employee a fair opportunity to consider and respond to the proposed change.  Making staff redundant is complicated at the best of times and there are added considerations at the moment if you have received the Wage Subsidy.  We strongly recommend that you seek advice before proceeding down this path. 

Vulnerable employees 
Under Level 2, people at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 may wish to take extra precautions. You should discuss with these employees whether they can work from home, or find other ways to keep them safe while at work. If they decide to stay at home, and cannot work from home, you should agree with the employee what their leave and pay arrangements will be. 

 

Trading under Alert Level 3

Under Alert Level 3, you must work from home if you can.  You will not be able to engage in face-to-face retail. Retail stores must be closed for browsing. Any sales must be contactless and at a distance.

Gatherings are limited to ten people or fewer.

Stay in your household bubble.  Social distancing rules apply.  Keep a 2 metre distance from people outside of your bubble.

The wearing of facemasks is not yet compulsory but is highly recommended.

Health & Safety requirements under Alert Level 3 
As a “person conducting a business or undertaking”, you have obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 to ensure the health and safety of workers and other people in the workplace so far as is reasonably practicable. Under Alert Level 3, all businesses that are permitted to keep operating need to have a COVID-19 safety plan that sets out how they’ll operate safely. 

Face masks are not yet compulsory but are highly recommended. The Ministry of Health has guidance here on safe use of face masks.

Gatherings are limited to ten people for weddings and funerals.

Trading at Alert Level 3
We’ve done this before.  We can do it again.  Here are some reminders of what trading at Level 3 looks like:

Taking orders
You can keep accepting orders. Transactions must be contactless. Here are some suggestions for ways of taking orders:

  • email;
  • online store;
  • phone;
  • Skype, FaceTime, Zoom calls in which you can “walk” customers around the shop;
  • messages via social media channels - FaceBook messenger, Instagram messages, Twitter direct messages.

Payment methods

  • contactless payment methods (the majority of banks have raised their PIN-less PayWave threshold from $80 to $200);
  • manually entering creditcard details given to you over the phone;
  • online payment via PayPal, internet banking, and other methods;
  • cash should only be accepted where the customer has no alternative, and if you have measures in place to ensure the cash is handled safely (such as appropriate sanitization measures).

You can find out about adapting your existing EFTPOS system to take contactless payments here.

Getting your books to customers
Transactions need to be contactless and customers are not allowed to queue. You will need to have a system for quickly fulfilling orders while maintaining social distancing. Do you have contactless payment methods for customers to use if they are picking up their orders? Or will you ask for purchases to be paid over the phone/online in advance? How will you protect your staff?

Here are some suggestions for “delivery”:

  • Pedestrian pick-ups: you will need to ensure that you maintain social distancing during the pick-up. Can you make a time with your customer for the purchase to be safely left on a table outside your store for collection?
  • Drive-bys, if you have appropriate parking and street frontage to allow for this safely. You may only establish drive-through facilities if you can meet public health requirements. This includes physical distancing, only accepting contactless payment methods, and contact tracing.
  • Delivery to homes by staff – on foot, by bike, by scooter, by car.
  • NZ Post – You can purchase postage online and then drop your parcel in a postbox, if it will fit. If you are paying extra for the courier service option, you will have an option during checkout to book a courier pick-up.
  • Courier Post;
  • Other courier companies – for example, PBT, Post Haste, NZ Couriers, Aramex (formerly Fastway Couriers), Pack & Send, Castle Parcels, DHL, and a wide range of other companies.

 

Employment requirements under Alert Level 3 

How you pay your staff under Level 3 depends on whether your staff are unable to work or whether they can keep working as per normal or at reduced capacity. 

If your employees are unable to work, you can agree to continue the payment that you provided under Alert Level 4. If your staff are working full-time, you must pay them for the hours worked. If they are working reduced hours, you will need to consult with them as this will constitute a change to their employment contract. 

Reducing hours 
Generally, if an employment agreement has the employee\'s hours of work, then the employer can’t change them without the employee\'s agreement. If the employment agreement says that an employer can change the hours of work, you still have to act fairly and reasonably before you do. Be sure to document in writing any agreements about reducing hours. 

In some situations, cutting back on an employee’s hours may be put forward as an alternative to redundancy. In these situations, you must follow the usual process for organisational change, which includes giving your employee a fair opportunity to consider and respond to the proposed change.  Making staff redundant is complicated at the best of times and there are added considerations at the moment if you have received the Wage Subsidy.  We strongly recommend that you seek advice before proceeding down this path. 

Vulnerable employees 
Under Level 3, people at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 should take extra precautions. You should discuss with these employees whether they can work from home, or find other ways to keep them safe while at work. If they decide to stay at home, and cannot work from home, you should agree with the employee what their leave and pay arrangements will be. 

Hygiene guidance for bookshops
We have compiled a list of hygiene tips based on measures proposed by the German Booksellers Association to its members, advice from WorkSafe NZ, and suggestions from Retail NZ.

  • Establish hand washing / hand disinfection rules for employees:

a.    at least 20 seconds with soap and hot water;
b.    use hand sanitiser when you can’t wash your hands;
c.    clean hands when changing between tasks, for example from cash register to other activities;
d.    keep hand sanitiser next to computer keyboards that are used by multiple staff;
e.       ensure that the soap, hand disinfectant, and paper towel dispensers are always filled up.
f.        avoid touching your face.

  • Ensure that the distance rules of at least 1 metre are respected in meeting rooms and social spaces through clear instructions and appropriate seating. 
  • Schedule regular cleaning shifts, including high-touch surfaces such as EFTPOS terminals, door handles, and counter tops.
  • Wearing gloves is probably not necessary. The current understanding is that the transmission and infection of the virus occurs mainly through droplets.
  • If possible, the air exchange rate of a ventilation system and/or the proportion of fresh air supplied should be increased. Break rooms should also be ventilated regularly or as often as possible.
  • Support employees with flu-like symptoms to self-isolate at home.
  • Keep records to facilitate contact tracing: keep a register of all people, both workers and visitors, entering or leaving the workplace, and all people that workers have contact with while conducting their work.  You should keep the records for at least two months, in case the local Public Health Unit needs to access them.  At a minimum, you should collect the following information: full name (not nickname), contact telephone number, postal address (for workers) or the name of the visitor’s business, and the reason for visit and duration.

Covid-19 signage & resources
Free printable resources from the Government\'s Covid-19 website: 
https://covid19.govt.nz/businesses-and-employees/business-toolkit/

Here are two other free printable resources that may be useful:
http://www.rph.org.nz/public-health-topics/illness-and-disease/coronavirus-covid-19/dontbringcovidhome-retail-poster.pdf (Free printable poster #1 for your staffroom)
http://www.rph.org.nz/public-health-topics/illness-and-disease/coronavirus-covid-19/dontbringcovid-19home-poster.pdf (Free printable poster #2 for your staffroom)

Although it is not compulsory, if you are looking to purchase signage, here are some sources we have found:
https://www.covid19protect.co.nz/ (signage, stickers, sanitising stations, sneeze guards)
https://safetysign.co.nz/product-category/covid-19-signs/ (signs, stickers)
https://www.facebook.com/sbsigns.co.nz/ (signs, stickers, posters)

Here is a link to the Government\'s guidance to retailers under Level 3.

 


Trading under Alert Level 4

The Board and staff of Booksellers NZ consider that the health and well-being of all New Zealanders is our most important consideration. We are 100% committed to supporting the Government\'s campaign against Covid-19. As difficult as this unprecedented four week period is, it is vital that we all do our part to try and minimise the duration of this disruption.

Alert level 4 meant that “Non-essential businesses in New Zealand must close” at 11:59pm on Wednesday 25 March. The official advice required “New Zealanders who are outside of essential services must stay at home and stop all interactions with others outside of those in your households”.

What does non-essential mean?

The advice from the Government about essential businesses clearly excludes bookshops. The types of businesses that are allowed to remain open are those that are essential for the necessities of life, such as supermarkets, pharmacies, and utilities. As vital as we consider books to be, they cannot realistically be considered to be essential supplies at this time.

NZ Post has declared that retail postal services are non-essential: "While NZ Post’s courier and mail delivery services have been deemed essential services to ensure delivery of necessities to New Zealand, NZ Post’s retail over the counter services including postage and bill payments are considered to be non-essential.  As a result, from 11.59pm Wednesday 25th March NZ Post retail outlets will close, and all over the counter services will be unavailable until further notice." As a result, all stores should now be closed.

What does “close” mean?

The requirement is for non-essential businesses to “close”. In the view of Booksellers NZ, this means that a physical bookstore must close its doors to customers. We also believe that this means that online sales must likewise cease. Having staff in store fulfilling online orders and liaising with couriers is not in the spirit of the official requirements to isolate and avoid travel. The intention of the unprecedented lockdown is to avoid any unnecessary contact for the health and safety of all New Zealanders.   The Government\'s website states that "Businesses operating non-essential services must shut down their premises. These businesses can continue to operate with staff working from their own homes. If this is not possible, these business must close their operations."  This is clear guidance that online book sales should cease.

Booksellers NZ recommends that – if you haven’t already – you should:

  • Talk to your landlord about rent relief for the four weeks you cannot open;
  • Talk to your bank about lines of credit if your reserves are going to be stretched; and
  • Talk to Work & Income about the government’s wage subsidy (see more information below).

If we all play our part, this four weeks will be the only four weeks that New Zealand will need to be at Level 4; so let’s do it properly and with grace.

We understand that you are all watching social media closely and share our frustrations that some retailers appear to be pushing the limits of the law during the lockdown by selling things like wool and scented candles. However, our advice remains the same: the sale of books is not an essential service at this time. We will let you know as soon as this changes. 

Essential Non-Food Consumer Products
Businesses are able to sell essential non-food consumer products, provided they do so in a way that protects the public and minimises the risk of Covid-19 spreading. It is difficult to be prescriptive about what an essential product is. The Government has advised that it expects that essential goods cover those products that keep people warm, replace key household appliances, and maintain people’s health. They may include, for example, blankets, heaters, kitchenware and appliances, whiteware, computer equipment, and mobile phones. Businesses will need to form a judgment as to which of their products are genuinely essential. The Government is expecting businesses and households to act responsibly when they decide what these essential goods might be.

In order to provide essential non-food consumer products, businesses must comply with the following conditions:

  1. Orders must be taken online or by phone only. Storefronts must not be open and the public should not be able to visit stores to select or collect goods.
  2. Orders must be for only essential non-food consumer products.
  3. In fulfilling orders, businesses must take all appropriate public health measures (e.g. physical distancing, hygiene basics, appropriate personal protective equipment for staff). Orders must be home delivered in a contactless way (i.e. there is no physical interaction between the deliverer and customer).
  4. The business must inform MBIE of its intention to offer essential non-food products for sale, and provide a list of the products they intend to offer. MBIE must be notified before you commence selling essential non-food products. MBIE has established a register to collect this information.

If businesses cannot meet any of the above conditions, they should not offer to sell essential goods while the country is at Alert Level 4.

Courier and parcel services should only be used for essential goods. During this period, postal and courier services will be busy helping society receive items and goods that are essential. Adding additional pressure and burden to that service may impact on society\'s wider ability to get through this period, and to stop the virus in its tracks.

New Zealanders are relying on each other to keep everyone safe and stop the spread of Covid-19. Businesses are expected to minimise their product offerings and households to only order goods that are absolutely necessary. If businesses are too generous in their interpretation of what is essential or flout these rules, the Government has said that it will take further action.

Things to think about before you close for four weeks

  • Security – check all windows and doors, take away any cash.
  • Phones – do you need to record a message saying you are closed? Do you need to divert your landline to a mobile?
  • Emails – do you need to set up an auto-reply saying you are closed or will someone be answering emails from home?
  • Social media – do you need to update your opening hours on your social media? Have you posted a message to customers?
  • Courier and mail deliveries – what will happen to these while you are closed? Can you divert them to a residential address for security? How will couriers arriving at your closed store know where to go?
  • Perishables – check the fridge in your staffroom (and parents/caregivers, make sure you get those lunchboxes out of school bags!)
  • Staying in contact with staff – check in on each other while you are in lockdown. If you don’t have one already, perhaps consider setting up a FaceBook group, a WhatsApp chat or other mechanism to keep in touch. We have listed some helpful resources on our website to deal with mental health in these difficult times.
  • Make sure you have sent all redeemed Booksellers Tokens to us for processing. We will still process redemptions as close to the day of receipt as possible and this money might be important for your cashflow as the month goes on.

Things to do while you are closed

These four weeks present the ideal opportunity to indulge in what booksellers do best – read! Before you all leave the store, divvy up those reading copies. Now is the time to get a head start on forthcoming publications and write reviews for newsletters and social media.

Think about ways you can maintain communication and interest with your customers during the shutdown. Regular posting, getting creative and encouraging engagement. People will be home and online more, and they will be in need of community. Remember that bookshops are important community hubs; let’s maintain that role even when we are closed. At Booksellers NZ, we will use the power of our own social media to boost your posts.

This is also a great time to think about what position your business will be in when this crisis comes to an end. Can you be working on improvements to your online store while you are working from home? If and when the restrictions end, your online store is likely to bounce back faster than your retail presence so you will want to take advantage. We can help with this, so please make contact if you want to talk through your options.


Information on Covid-19

There is a lot of information out there so we have tried to condense the most useful and relevant advice into these links for you.

This is the NZ Government\'s website on COVID-19.  It is the best place to start for official information and resources. 

What is COVID-19? 

Starting with the basics, here is what the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said about COVID-19. You can find the latest official updates on the New Zealand situation here.

Here is a handy printable fact sheet from the US Center for Disease Control. Don’t spread misinformation. Here are some common myths dispelled, by experts.

Here is a useful summary with a local flavour from The Spinoff.

Health and safety 

Here is WHO’s advice on getting your workplace prepared and reducing risk.

The New Zealand Ministry of Health has advice here on how to keep your workplace clean. Local expert Dr Siouxsie Wiles has sensible advice here on proper methods of cleaning surfaces.

If you or your staff need to self-isolate, the Ministry of Health has guidance here on what this actually means and how to do it.

Remember to look after your mental health too. These are stressful times.  It\'s natural to feel emotionally and physically drained.  You’re not alone in this and you don’t need to cope on your own. There is some useful advice here from the Ministry of Health. You can get more help and information from your GP or local community health centre, Youthline 0800 376 633, Rural Support Trust 0800 RURAL HELP, and Need To Talk by calling or texting 1737.

Bookseller-specific information on Covid-19

Here’s what the American Booksellers Association is telling its members. A lot of this has an obvious US focus, and things are quite different there (from the spread to the official advice to employment laws), but you may find at least some of it useful reading.  Save Indie Bookstores is a US-initiative that has been taken up on social media.

Here is a link to advice from the UK Booksellers Association to its members. It includes some suggested social media copy, which you can adapt for your own FaceBook, Twitter, and Instagram posts:

  • Bookshops are great places of solace, information, community and friendship. They are also well-placed to take orders over the phone, provide personal shopping via social media, and post you your next great read. Support your high street in these challenging times #ChooseBookshops
  • Connection matters. Community matters. Bookshops matter. Now, more than ever, remember to support your local bookshop. #ChooseBookshops
  • Are you social-distancing? You’ll need some reading material. If you can’t make it to your local bookshop, get in touch with them via phone or email and they’ll post the books straight to your home. #ChooseBookshops
  • Bookshops are great community hubs, especially during troubled times. They can give great recommendations and help with bookish requirements over the phone and on social media, and then post straight to your door. #ChooseBookshops

Closer to home, here is the advice to members from the Australian Booksellers Association.

Retail advice 

Now is the time to think laterally.  Stay active on social media, remind your customers about your online presence and your ability to deliver to those who are housebound.

American “retail trainer” WhizBang! has produced a free video guide to “Preparing Your Store for the Global Spread of Coronavirus”, which may be worth a look.

Nielsen has been looking at how consumers are reacting; for an insightful read, you can look here.