Coronavirus: Here's the list of all 'essential' services that can stay open

Publish Date
Tuesday, 24 March 2020, 12:42PM

*Updated April 6*

The Government has released a list of what is considered to be an essential business and, therefore, exempt from the level four lockdown.

Here are all the essential businesses listed on

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Supermarkets and dairies:

All supermarkets and dairies are considered essential services. A supermarket's primary focus is selling food product, and is a retail store operating on a self-service basis, selling groceries, fresh produce, meat, bakery and dairy products, and sometimes an assortment of non-food goods. Dairies must operate a one-in-one-out rule, and cannot sell food or drink that has been prepared or cooked onsite.

Convenience stores at service stations can operate, however, cannot sell food or drink that has been prepared or cooked onsite.


Alcohol is available to be purchased in supermarkets, and Licensing Trust stores in the four areas where Licensing Trusts hold a monopoly. The four areas where Licensing Trusts have a monopoly are Invercargill, Waitakere (West Auckland), Portage (West Auckland), and Mataura (Gore). Open liquor store premises can only operate with a one-in-one-out rule. All other liquor stores must be closed to the public.

The online sale and contactless delivery of alcohol (including spirits) is permitted under the following conditions:

  • Licensees that had existing delivery operations before Level 4 came into effect can continue with their delivery businesses.
  • Licensees that did not have existing delivery operations before Level 4 came into effect and now wish to start delivery should discuss their plans and licence type and conditions with their local licensing body before starting delivery operations.
  • Licensees must meet the requirements for remote sales, including verifying the age of the buyer and that alcohol is not delivered after 11pm or before 6am (or any further time restrictions set out in the licence).
  • Licensees must comply with all requirements of the Act, your licence and any conditions or restrictions.
  • The agreed quantity for spirits purchased must be no more than the customs/duty free allowance which is three bottles (or other containers) of spirits or liqueur (each bottle or container can hold a maximum of 1.125 litres) per order. 

Licensees with questions about their licence should contact their local licensing body.

Courier services:

Courier and parcel services should only be used for essential goods.

During this period, our postal and courier service will be busy helping our 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.

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.

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.

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.

Food delivery and food banks:

Food delivery, other than cooked prepared meals such as takeaways, is allowed (eg supermarket home delivery, food parcels from charitable organisations, subscription food boxes, or any other whole-food delivery service). Meals-on-Wheels may continue to deliver prepared food. Ordering, payment and delivery must be contactless and the business must operate safely within the general health guidelines such as physical separation and hygiene.

Food banks are considered an essential social service. Food banks must operate a one-in-one-out rule, and cannot sell or provide cooked food.


• Any entity that provides accommodation services for essential workers, isolation/quarantine, and emergency housing


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

Courts, tribunals and the justice system:

• Courts of New Zealand and tribunals

• Critical Crown entities (eg Electoral Commission)

Fast-moving consumer goods:

• Any entity involved in the supply, distribution and sale of food, beverage and other key consumer goods essential for maintaining the wellbeing of people, but not take away shops. Food delivery prohibited, except meals on wheels and delivery of food not pre-cooked.

Financial services:

• Banks, insurers and other financial institutions, including any entity that contracts or provides services to them (eg secure money delivery services)

• Securities registries



• District Health Boards (and all of their facilities), Pharmac, New Zealand Blood Service, Health Promotion Agency, Health Quality and Safety Commission

• Any person employed or contracted as a doctor, nurse, midwife, pharmacist, paramedic, medical laboratory scientists, kaiāwhina workers, social workers, aged care and community workers, and caregivers more generally

• Hospitals, primary care clinics, pharmacies, medical laboratories, care facilities (eg rest homes)

• Any entity providing ambulance services

• Any entity producing health sector equipment, medicines and PPE

• Any entity involved with the deceased/tūpāpaku (eg funeral homes, crematories, cemeteries)

Pets and animal welfare:

Veterinary and animal health/welfare services are essential services, and pet food is a fast-moving consumer good. Pet food is available at supermarkets and vets.

Travel to look after animals is allowed, as long as you take the necessary health measures, and comply with any region-specific travel measures.

Local and national government:

• Any entity involved in COVID-19 response, enforcement, planning or logistics or that has civil defence/emergency management functions (including any entity that supplies services for these purposes)

• Key public services

Primary industries, including food and beverage production and processing:

• Any entity involved in the packaging, production and processing of food and beverage products, whether for domestic consumption or export

• Any entity involved in relevant support services, such as food safety and verification, inspection or associated laboratory services, food safety and biosecurity functions

• Any entity providing veterinary services

• Any entity whose closure would jeopardise the maintenance of animal health or welfare standards (including the short-term survival of a species)

Public safety and national security:

• The Department of Corrections, Fire and Emergency New Zealand, Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Justice, New Zealand Defence Force, New Zealand Police, New Zealand Security Intelligence Service, Government Communications Security Bureau

• Courts of New Zealand

• Any person employed or contracted in a public safety or national security role


• ESR, GNS, GeoNet, NIWA, MetService

• Any entity (including research organisations) involved in COVID-19 response

• Any entity (including research organisations) involved in hazard monitoring and resilience

• Any entity (including research organisations) involved in diagnostics for essential services like biosecurity, public health

• Laboratories and Physical Containment level 3 (PC3) facilities that could provide essential services and products that could be used to respond to COVID-19

• Other significant research facilities including animal facilities, clinical trials and infrastructure that requires constant attention (eg samples, collections and storage facilities) that are important to New Zealand

Social services:

• Those entities, including non-government organisations, that provide welfare and social services to meet immediate needs, to be specified jointly by the Ministry of Social Development and Oranga Tamariki

Transport and logistics:

• Ministry of Transport, New Zealand Customs, New Zealand Transport Agency, Civil Aviation Authority (including Aviation Security Service), Maritime New Zealand (including the Rescue Coordination Centre), Airways NZ, MetService, KiwiRail (including Interislander), and any entity which is contracted by these entities

• Any entity that provides, or is contracted to an entity that provides, logistics services, including New Zealand Post and courier services

• Any entity providing or is contracted by an entity that provides, transport services to the Ministry of Health, a District Health Board, a Medical Officer of Health, or a Controller (as defined in section 4 of the Civil Defence and Emergency Management Act 2002)

• Any entity which provides services related to the maintenance and ongoing operation of critical infrastructure (eg roads, rail, ports, airports)

• Any entity which operates or is contracted by an entity listed in Schedule 1 of the Civil Defence and Emergency Management Act 2002, an aerodrome, a passenger and/or freight aviation service, a passenger and/or freight shipping service, a road freight service, a rail freight service, a vehicle recovery service; or a public transport service (under contract with a Regional Council)

• Any small passenger service vehicle driver (who holds the relevant licence)

• Any entity providing services to keep vehicles operational for essential work purposes (eg vehicle testing, mechanics, tyre services)

Utilities and communications, including supply chains:

• Any entity involved in the production, supply, sale distribution or disposal of electricity, gas, water, wastewater (eg sanitation), waste (eg rubbish collection), fuel, telecommunication services, and any entity that is contracted by these entities

• News (including news production) and broadcast media

• Internet service providers

• Any entity that provides maintenance and repair services for utilities and communications, including supply chains

• Any entity supplying services to an essential workplaces that are required for the safe operation of that workplace (eg cleaning, security services)

Maintenance and safety:

Building and construction retailers:

Bunnings, Placemakers, Mitre 10 and other retailers essential to the supply chain for building and construction can stay open to trade customers for essential purposes only. They will not be open to the public.

Disposal of waste and recycling services:

Disposal of waste, including recycling, is an essential service and may continue to operate during Alert Level 4.  Individual operators have responsibilities to appropriately meet the health, safety, and security requirements of their staff and customers, and should not operate if they feel they cannot do so.


Locksmiths can undertake essential work on emergency call-outs and essential activity to maintain the security of premises/personal properties.

Pest management:

Pest management may be undertaken only where required for human health and safety, and it is essential during the Alert Level 4 period. However, operators must ensure people have somewhere safe to go while the process is underway, in particular where a property is being vacated.

Road safety equipment:

Road safety equipment for road construction should only be used only where maintenance is essential.


Security is considered an essential service, even if security services are being provided in relation to a premise for a non-essential service.


Tradespeople can do maintenance if it is to maintain the necessities of life or critical to safety. This includes electricians, plumbers and builders.

Vehicle washing services:

Vehicle washing services must only be undertaken when supporting essential services to ensure they are complying with the necessary health and safety requirements. Eg washing off contaminated or biohazard materials.

Other services:


Self-service laundries can stay open, with 2-metre physical distancing to be enforced.

Plant nurseries:

Plant nurseries which supply primary industries are considered to be essential and may continue operating. Plant nurseries not supplying primary industries are not considered to be essential services and may not operate.

Recruitment services:

While recruitment for essential services positions may be considered essential, this should be done entirely remotely, from home.

Rental cars:

Rental cars may be accessed in some circumstances. Ministry of Transport has put out documentation on essential transport logistics and services.


Self-storage facilities can operate only to facilitate access for essentials. New sales or expiries of units are considered non-essential. Access to existing lockers is permitted for essential items or services only. Eg fridges.

Support services (e.g. IT, payroll):

Critical support services to ensure businesses and workers can continue working from home are considered to be essential. This includes functions such as IT and Payroll.

Telecommunications (e.g. TVs, phones, modems, computers):

The sale, installation and repair of connectivity devices (e.g. TVs, mobile phones, smart phones, telephones, computers, modems/internet, radios) is considered to be essential for the maintenance of connectivity. Sale must only be done online over the phone. Delivery must be contactless. Installation and repair may continue where it is essential for the maintenance of connectivity (e.g. to conduct essential business, receive news, or contact doctor). Sale, installation and repair may not occur where it is duplicating or upgrading items. We expect consumers to act responsibly when they decide whether the repair or replacement is essential to maintain connectivity, e.g. to conduct essential business, receive news or contact healthcare services).


Unions can operate, ensuring that all non-essential activity is conducted from home or remotely. Unions may only attend premises in exceptional circumstances, e.g. for essential health and safety or security issues.

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