COVID-19 Level 4 FAQs for construction businesses
Accord newsflash 18 August 2021 - COVID-19 Level 4 FAQs for construction businesses
The Building Performance COVID-19 page has been updated with new information about what work is deemed essential in the building and constructions sector.
More information on level 4 restrictions is available at covid19.govt.nz.
Can my site stay open under Level 4 if we follow precautions?
In general, no.
Building, construction and maintenance services may be able to operate during COVID-19 Alert Level 4 restrictions if they meet the Government criteria of Alert Level 4 businesses and services. This includes:
- any entity involved in building, construction or maintenance related to nationally important infrastructure that enables or supports supply chains that are needed for one or both of the following: to provide for the current needs of people and communities, and; to enable or support the immediate recovery of the whole or any part of New Zealand from the effects of COVID-19
- any entity involved in any work required to address immediate health or safety risks
- any person undertaking any necessary work in any premises to maintain the condition or value of, or clean, the premises, or any plant, equipment, or goods in the premises
- any entity with statutory responsibilities or that is involved in building and resource consenting necessary for the purposes stated above.
What is an Alert Level 4 business or service?
In the Health Order dated 17 August it's defined as work related to one or both of the following:
- Work to address immediate risks to health and safety (including making construction sites safe and secure)
- Maintaining nationally important infrastructure (that supports supply chains providing for needs of people/communities or to support recovery from the effects of COVID-19.
MBIE's Building Performance website also includes information on the type of work that can be carried out by consenting authorities and professional services firms, merchants and retailers, and homeowners.
How do I find out if my site/project is an Alert Level 4 business or service that can operate?
Please refer to MBIE's Building Performance website where there is information about what is permissible. MBIE does not actively approve what is and is not permissible. The responsibility is on the person carrying out the building or construction work to ensure that the work they are completing meets the criteria.
Please note, the situation is often changing, so you may not be clear on whether your business is allowed to operate. Some businesses will be able to operate for a short period of time while supporting other businesses or while carrying out permissible services.
What has changed in the restrictions since the 2020 lockdown?
Construction Health and Safety New Zealand (CHASNZ) is working on updated protocols for working under COVID-19 Alert Level 4(external link)
- The Delta variant is more transmissible than previous forms of the virus, therefore guidelines will be more stringent than previous lockdowns.
- The updated CHASNZ health and safety guidelines reflect this, and provide detail the additional precautions that should be taken by workers.
- The CHASNZ guidance also calls out the importance of getting staff vaccinated, and ensuring that staff have time-off to receive their vaccines.
Has anything changed from the previous Level 4 lockdown?
Information about the type of work allowed at Alert Level 4(external link) - building.govt.nz
Does the lockdown affect my contract?
Contract guidance in response to COVID-19 lockdowns is provided by The Accord. It includes:
- Contractual guidelines for procuring agencies [PDF, 527 KB]
- Contract variation guidelines [PDF, 758 KB]
- Recommended approach to construction risk management [PDF, 671 KB]
- Rapid mobilisation guidance, post-lockdown [PDF, 3.6 MB]
Like previous lockdowns, the health order instituted by the government constitutes a change in law and therefore previous guidance issued by the Construction Accord is still applicable. Some contracts may have clauses that set out provisions for dealing with costs associated with Covid-19 related lockdowns.
Under the standard NZS 3910 form of contract, the Contractor is generally responsible for loss or damage, except where the cause is due to a risk outside the control of the Contractor (referred to as "excepted risks"). It is recommended that a fair position is for agencies to consider COVID-19 to be an excepted risk.
The types of costs that should be covered will vary dependent on the project, and clients will have to consider whether a contractor's profit should also be included.
As always, the Accord encourages transparent and collaborative dialogue that focuses on achieving the best outcome for the project overall.
What financial support is available to my business?
Information on financial support(external link) - covid19.govt.nz
Financial support for businesses(external link) - covid19.govt.nz
What mental health support is available for my staff?
Visit the MATES in Construction website(external link), or call 0800 111 315.
Or you can call Lifeline Aotearoa on 0800 54 33 54 or free text HELP (4357).
Lifeline's Suicide Crisis Helpline(external link) is 0508 TAUTOKO (0508 82 88 65)
Who can I contact for more information?
If you have any questions and concerns relating to COVID-19, please call the free government helpline on 0800 779 997 (8am - 10pm, 7 days a week).
If you have any questions relating to the building and construction sector, email firstname.lastname@example.org