NZ Avocado continues to consider the health and safety of all stakeholders involved in avocado industry activity, as per New Zealand Government COVID-19 guidelines.

This page will be updated as we get information. Please look out for one another, follow government advice and stay connected with each other by email and phone.

Kia kaha, stay strong and stay safe.

For more information please see below or contact us

Updated: 18  October 2021

Northland will move to Alert Level 2 at 11.59pm on Tuesday 19 October.

Auckland and parts of Waikato remain at Alert Level 3.

The rest of New Zealand remains at Level 2.

Click here to view current Alert Level boundary maps

For further regional advice and information, visit the COVID-19 website here

Resources

How to apply for financial help and where to get financial advice

Income support – outlines what’s available for workers/beneficiaries.

See also wage subsidies and leave payments.  

Business cashflow and tax – outlines support such as depreciation on commercial and industrial buildings; deductions for low value assets; increase in the threshold for small businesses having to pay provisional tax; and waiving interest and penalties on late tax payments for businesses affected by COVID-19. 

Previous updates

Updated: 23 September 2021

Auckland is now in Alert Level 3 and the rest of New Zealand will remain at Alert Level 2. These settings will be in place for at least two weeks and will be reviewed by Cabinet on Monday 4 October. All the relevant information about operating at the alert levels can be found on the Unite Against Covid website https://covid19.govt.nz/

Compliance rates reported by police at the boundary continue to improve. Since 11.59pm September 20, 4,350 heavy vehicles have been stopped and 172 of them have been turned around attempting to leave Tāmaki Makaurau. This is a compliance rate of 93.8%, up from 92.5% yesterday and 85.5% on the first day of compliance checking on 17 September.

They continue to see a great uptake for saliva testing and as of 22 September 8,701 individuals and 666 employers had registered for saliva testing.

Don’t forget these key messages:

  • Saliva testing is only available to permitted workers
  • Permitted workers who wish to sign up for saliva testing should do so beforethey travel to the Alert Level boundary

Permitted workers can sign up for saliva testing with Asia Pacific Healthcare Group (APHG), or with their employer here.

Please note that a single saliva sample must be provided in a series of at least two per week, 2 days apart within a 7-day period.

Permitted workers with a smart phone can register for saliva testing if they have their NHI number and a valid business travel document at the saliva testing sites near the boundary.

Changes to site locations

The campervan at the Te Hana Waitomo site will be located there on Thursday and Friday ONLY after which the site will move to across the road to the Gas station. Operating hours will be: 24/7 for drop off and 0700 – 2000 for the collection of kits.

The campervan at the Waitomo Bombay site has moved to 1125 Great South Road, Runciman 2578 (Drury exit) as of today, Thursday 23 September, and the campervan will operate from 0700 to 1900 each day.

Other locations where saliva samples can be dropped off by permitted workers registered with APHG can be found here.

There is a testing site at Hampton Downs today for nasal swabs , at Gate 3 from 0900-1530.   Swab testing is also available via GPs, after hours clinics and community testing centres. For a list of testing locations please go to Healthpoint.

Make sure workers have all the necessary documents ready to show police if stopped at a checkpoint as follows:

  • proof of ID
  • evidence of permitted travel
  • proof of test, or proof of exemption for testing.

Thanks again for your continued efforts in working with your colleagues and members, and your support to them to keep themselves, their colleagues, their whanau, and our communities safe.

Business travel across Alert Level Boundaries

Movement between Alert Level Boundaries is restricted. There are Police check points to stop unnecessary travel. New Zealanders should continue to ensure their movement over the boundaries is for essential purposes only. An Alert Level Boundary separates areas of New Zealand that are at different Alert Levels. Workers will need to show proof that they have had a recent COVID-19 test before crossing an Alert Level Boundary. Businesses need to provide their staff with proof of eligibility to travel across an Alert Level Boundary, such as the documentation generated at MBIE’s Business Travel Register.

Click here for more information on mandatory COVID-19 testing and the process of applying for your Business Travel Documents.

21 September 2021

21 September 2021

Following the latest announcement, Auckland will move to Alert Level 3 at 11.59pm today – Tuesday 21 September – and the rest of New Zealand will remain at Alert Level 2. These settings will be in place for at least two weeks and will be reviewed by Cabinet on Monday 4 October.

In response to the positive cases in North Waikato, there will be an adjustment to the southern boundary of the Auckland alert level area in recognition of the Prime Minister’s statement today that a Level 4 environment needs to be created for this area. As a result the existing checkpoint at Mangatāwhiri on State Highway 2 will be relocated further east so as to encompass the North Waikato area.

The new checkpoints will be operational from 7am Tuesday morning. There should be no difference to the movement of freight despite the relocation of the checkpoint; all current requirements (evidence of having had a test, Business Travel Documents) still apply and heavy freight will be waved through (apart from the odd spot check) as it is now. All other checkpoints (SH1 Mercer etc.) will remain as they are. Police will be doing their very best to ensure that the layout of checkpoints does not disrupt the flow of traffic.

In addition to surveillance testing measures already in place for permitted workers crossing the Alert Level boundary, new measures will also be put in place for personal travel across the boundary. This does not change the requirements for freight, which are subject to the business travel measures.

The understanding is that people transiting Auckland (without stopping) for a permitted reason and for some other reasons including emergencies, urgent care of child/support or care for a person in critical/terminal condition, and entering and leaving MIQ will be exempt from the requirement to show evidence of a test. But again, this is yet to be confirmed.

A reminder that information and updates about travel across the Auckland boundaries can be found at Unite against COVID-19 and here .

Testing update

Thanks to all those who have undergone the additional testing required for the crossing of Alert Level boundaries. Police have been pleased to report that the majority of people are adhering to requirements to show evidence of testing in the first weekend of compliance checking of permitted workers crossing the Alert Level boundary.

It’s really important that permitted workers get tested before they commence their travel across the boundary. The sites at Waitomo Bombay and Te Hana are primarily for collection of saliva testing kits and to drop off samples, and the pop-up site that was set up Mercer on 17 September is no longer available.

By getting tested and having proof of test available prior to travelling across the boundary, workers will minimise delays and ensure they will not be turned around by police at checkpoints.

View a full list of testing centres

13 September 2021

13 September 2021

As you will be aware, the Alert Level 4 status continues for the Auckland region while the rest of the country remains in Alert Level 2. It is intended that Auckland will move to Alert Level 3 on Tuesday 21 September; this will be reviewed/confirmed by Cabinet on Monday 20 September 2021.

Many of you who are or employ permitted workers crossing the alert level boundary for work are now set up for testing or have taken tests, so as to be ready for when compliance checks come into force from midnight tonight – 11:59pm on 16 September. Regular testing will be required for as long as the alert level boundary remains in place; we will advise as soon as we know of any changes to this. Thanks to everyone who has put in so much work to make it all happen.

A pop-up testing site will be operating on Friday 17 September at Mercer (southern boundary). This will provide an option for anyone who hasn’t had a test before crossing the Alert Level boundary, so they can stop and get a test.

There’s been a lot of interest in saliva testing and so far:

  • 176 employers have registered directly for saliva testing covering 1824  permitted workers
  • There have been 351 individual registrations (self- employed etc.)

Links to further information:

Ministry of Health website: https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus/covid-19-health-advice-public/covid-19-travel-within-new-zealand/testing-workers-who-cross-alert-level-boundaries

Unite against COVID website: https://covid19.govt.nz/travel/permitted-travel-at-different-alert-levels/business-travel-across-an-alert-level-boundary/#travelling-across-the-boundary-for-personal-reasons

View a full list of testing centres

How to Provide a Sample – Covid-19 Saliva Testing (covid19salivatesting.co.nz)

Get more information on saliva testing

8 September 2021

8 September 2021

Detail around how the testing of essential workers crossing borders every seven days (from 11.59pm on Thursday 9 September) will work, is starting to come through from the Government.

From this Friday 10 September, employers need to have put in place systems to record when essential workers have crossed the borders and when they have been tested for Covid.  Record keeping is vital in the case of any Covid outbreak.

Employers also need to facilitate essential workers to go and get tested during their work hours.  Testing is at no cost.

The Government is looking into putting additional testing sites near the borders and ways to make the testing of freight truck drivers as easy as possible.  The Government is also looking at saliva testing.

However, this is still a work in progress.  To find your nearest testing site, please go here: https://www.healthpoint.co.nz/

Grace period

Given it is going to take time for essential workers crossing borders to get tested, the Government has agreed to a grace period up to 11.59pm on Thursday 16 September.

This date is when Police will begin their compliance checking, which will involve them spot checking and turning people around who do not have evidence of a test.

Proof of a test within the last seven days will be in addition to the Business Travel Document all essential workers need to carry, when they travel in and out of Auckland.

It is said in the legislation put in place around testing that ‘Proof needs to be written verification provided by the medical practitioner who carried out the test’.  However, what form this proof may take is still under discussion.  Click here to see the legislation: https://www.legislation.govt.nz/regulation/public/2021/0237/latest/LMS545031.html

Workers will not be required to stand down or stay at home while awaiting their result, as this additional testing is to provide assurance travel in and out of boundaries is being done safely.

For up-to-date information on travel across Alert Level boundaries, please go here: https://covid19.govt.nz/travel/permitted-travel-at-different-alert-levels/business-travel-across-an-alert-level-boundary/

Maintaining high standards

Uncertainty remains about how the Delta Covid variant has been transmitted in a few cases in Auckland.  That is one of the reasons why the Government has introduced surveillance testing for essential workers crossing the Auckland borders.

We understand this new requirement will be difficult for some employers to manage and for some employees to get tested, due to hours of work, etc.  But as a sector, we need to do our part in getting on top of the Delta variant.  This is so the whole country can return to a more normal way of life, albeit with heightened vigilance around Covid.  The return to more usual ways of operating will also be particularly important for our sector as spring gets underway.

This is about maintaining our social license to operate, be that domestically or internationally.  Any outbreaks of Covid in or caused by our sector would be extremely damaging, given we are at the forefront of food production.  Consumers need to have the confidence – and evidence – that our sector functions at the highest standards in these uncertain times.

Requirement for businesses to ensure scanning/record keeping

At midnight on Tuesday 7th September, it will become compulsory for public-facing businesses to have a QR scanning or other record-keeping system for the use of every person entering their premises. Information regarding this requirement is here.

Further details of the implications of the new requirements will follow once the Order is in place, and as always we will provide updated operator guidance as soon as possible.

Kia kaha, kia hamaru,
Jen Scoular

7 September 2021

7 September 2021

The New Zealand Government has announced that from 11.59pm today, Tuesday 7th September, all of New Zealand – except for Auckland – will drop to ‘Delta’ Alert Level 2, noting that this is a different Alert Level 2 to the previous one.  For more information about Alert Level 2, please see below or go here. Auckland remains at Alert Level 4 and the Government will review all alert levels on Monday 13 September.

Travel through Auckland to/from Northland

Travel out of the Alert level 4 area will remain very restricted, as will be the permitted reasons to enter Auckland.

 Testing for essential workers crossing boundaries required from 11.59pm on Thursday 9 September (TBC) 

The Government has announced that evidence of regular testing will be required for permitted workers who need to cross alert level boundaries. Please see the Ministry of Health media statement here. The Government will require essential workers moving over the Auckland boundary to be tested. Please visit Unite Against Covid-19 for information and updates or visit www.healthpoint.co.nz/covid-19/ for up to date testing sites.

The detail will be set out in an amendment to the Alert Level Order which is currently being drafted. This will take effect on 11.59pm Thursday 9th September and is the date for introduction of the amendment to the Alert Level Order, not a deadline for people to get a test. Under the amendment to the Alert Level Order, permitted workers crossing Alert Level boundaries will be required to present proof of having had a valid COVID-19 test within the past 7 days.

Further detail will be provided by Government soon on testing requirements, and we will update avocado stakeholders as soon as this is available. 

This additional testing requirement is part of the Ministry of Health’s surveillance strategy to ensure that the early detection measures in place for COVID-19 in the community are working. There is no requirement for people to stay at home while awaiting the result of their test unless they are symptomatic.

The Ministry of Health is working through the details of how compliance with this new testing requirement will be monitored and they envisage a process of spot checking of permitted workers at boundaries. We will share further information as it becomes available over the coming days. This will include MoH Testing Guidance and timeframes for the implementation of this new requirement.

The Ministry of Health advises that movements across boundaries by permitted workers present the following risks:​

  • Increasing the risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 as they are moving around in the community, with some groups of essential workers regularly coming into contact withother people.  ​
  • Increasing risk that COVID-19 is carried from the higher Alert Level area, where community transmission is more likely, to an area with a lower Alert Level where there are fewer restrictions on personal movement. These permitted workers may unknowingly transmit the virus, especially in the early days when they are more likely to be asymptomatic.​

This additional testing will provide the assurance that travel across the boundary is being done safely. The Ministry of Health is urging permitted workers that need to cross the boundary to undertake testing now.

Changes to Alert Level 2 in context of Delta variant

  •  Face coverings are now mandatory at Alert Level 2 inside most public venues such as retail shops and indoor facilities such as malls and libraries.
  • Face coverings can be removed in hospitality venues such as restaurants, bars and cafes – but staff at these venues and any other public-facing businesses open at Level 2 must wear face coverings.
  • There will be a new “no standing” rule for public transport services like buses, trains and passenger ferries (obviously people can stand to get on and off the service!). Further advice will be provided on this.
  • The limit for indoor gatherings, hospitality settings and event venues is 50 people. As we understand it, this limit does not apply to workplaces or transport settings but we will confirm this again once we have the final Order.
  • For indoor public facilities such as gyms, museums and libraries where the previous physical distancing rule was 1 metre, the rule has been updated to 2 metres to align with other indoor venues such as supermarkets. We will confirm the requirements for public transport venues, but we understand these requirements may not apply but we need to confirm this and will advise as soon as we are able.
  • For outdoor gatherings the limit remains at 100 people – keeping in mind the rules around being seated and separated.

To further support you please see some generic guidance to reflect Alert Level 2 Delta here.

2 September 2021

The Government has this afternoon confirmed that Northland will move to Alert Level 3 at 11.59pm tonight, Thursday 2 September.  This decision creates a border to the north of Auckland.  Click here to see that border.

Please note that it is a legal requirement, under Alerts Level 4 and 3, to minimise travel, except where it is essential, and that goes for essential businesses and services as well

If as an employer, you have essential workers who need to cross the north (or south) borders of Auckland, please go here to apply for an exemption for them: https://www.business.govt.nz/covid-19/business-travel-across-alert-level-boundaries/

We are informed that this process is working well, as is the border south of Auckland.

Below is previous advice about border crossing:

  • Ensure travel documentation is prepared and ready for review. This can either be printed copies of your evidence or electronic copies on your device
  • The Business Travel Document can be used as evidence of your right to travel across the boundary. This will contain a QR code.
  • Other evidence of your purpose of travel is also acceptable, for example, freight or delivery vehicles could provide delivery dockets
  • You must have a form of photo ID (that is, driver licence).

Recommendation that essential workers crossing borders get tested

At today’s Government briefing, the Director General of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield recommended that essential workers crossing the borders get tested within the next three to four days.  Please encourage all essential workers crossing the borders to follow this advice and get tested, even if they are not symptomatic.

Questions and concerns

Please continue to let us know if you have any questions, concerns or queries by contacting Jen Scoular, CEO NZ Avocado on 021741014  and also keep an eye on this page for up to date information.

Important information for avocado industry stakeholders

Registering to travel across borders
If an essential worker is currently working and needs to cross the border to get to and from work, they are still able to do so. If you need to travel across the alert level boundary for permitted activity you will be required to register with MBIE to receive travel documents for this. To register, please visit MBIE’s website here. Please note you will not be able to re-use the travel documents that you applied for during previous alert level changes.  You will need to re-apply for new documents.

How it works

  • You must re-apply for Business Travel Documents
  • You will require your NZ Business Number as part of the application process
  • Avocado industry members will need to go through the MBIE system under the Food and Beverage sector
  • A Real Me login will be required
  • MPI has said exemptions will be harder to have approved.  If you do get declined, please let NZ Avocado know by emailing jen.scoular@nzavocado.co.nz
  • This stricter exemption process is due to the Delta Covid-19 variant and the highly contagious nature of it
  • Each person in a vehicle needs to have their document with them.  Each person will need to be able to present their document to border officials.  Each staff member who needs to cross the boundary must have their own documentation, or they are likely to be turned around.
  • The recommendation is to print the QR code and have a photocopy of the driver license, and place both of these on the windscreen of the vehicle so Police can have contactless access to your details
  • It would also pay to have an extra set of documents in the car with you as well.

For information about operating safely at Alert Level 3, please visit the following websites –  Unite Against Covid-19,  MBIE and MPI.

MPI Covid-19 guidance for Horticulture update
The sector operated under lockdown protocols last time and I know most of you are doing that now. MPI have suggested some additions to those protocols.

The document attached here has the additional changes highlighted in yellow. Please come back to me if you have issues with these protocols or would like to discuss them further.

MPI have advised that verification checks will be done to ensure businesses are operating safely. Initially by phone, MPI or MBIE may call a premises operating as an essential business and ask questions or ask the person to talk through how you are following the protocols. I would highly recommend that you have the protocols visibly available for anyone who may answer the phone or have a process that the right person is put on the phone to answer the questions.

Keep updated by checking the Covid-19 updates on the NZ Avocado industry website here.

28 August 2021

28 August 2021: Important information for avocado industry stakeholders attention

Below is a summary of two important items for avocado industry stakeholder attention:

  • The implementing of a regional border at Mercer at 11.59pm Tuesday 31st August
  • The updated protocols to operate under

Please send any feedback on the protocols by COB Tuesday 31st August to jen.scoular@nzavocado.co.nz to feed through to MPI.

You will all be aware of the current status of lockdown, with all of the country in level four until 11.59pm Tuesday.

At that time a regional border will be set up, at Mercer, south of Auckland.

Those needing to go across the border will need travel documentation. Further information on travel documentation is available on the MBIE website here.

Further details are available in MPI Director General Ray Smith’s email, which follows below this update.

I have submitted to MPI the list of names for all those of you who have advised me of the need to travel across the regional border.

MPI have assured us that this will make the processing of your exemption faster. I hope so. You still need to get the exemption and QR code from the MBIE website.

The documentation from last lockdown cannot be used.

It is suggested that you print your QR code from the exemption and put in on your windscreen or dashboard for easy scanning by police at any checkpoint.

It was suggested that the driver also has a copy of their drivers licence below the QR code, so the police can see the exemption is for the right person.

Everyone in the vehicle will require their own documentation.

MPI have acknowledged this is a new process, and asked if there are hitches that you come through me, and I will pass on to them. Likewise if the process goes well, an email to let me know would be useful.

At midday tomorrow the system may well be very busy, so perhaps think about when you do apply for your exemption.

You will need your BSN number, the same as last time, the business name and the names of those travelling on that exemption.

MPI were not sure on the call yesterday whether your details would be picked up from last time – they hoped they would be.

Updated protocols –  MPI Covid Guidance for Horticulture

The sector operated under lockdown protocols last time and I know most of you are doing that now. MPI have suggested some additions to those protocols.

The attached document has the additional changes highlighted in yellow.

Please come back to me by COB Tuesday 31st August if you have issues with these protocols, explaining why you have the issue and if possible suggest an alternative.

I would highly recommend that you have the protocols visibly available for anyone who may answer the phone or have a process that the right person is put on the phone to answer the questions.

I would also suggest anyone from your business who travels with their exemption, is aware of the protocols they are operating under.

Those travelling from level 4 into level 3 must take their level 4 with them.

MPI have advised that verification checks will be done. Initially by phone, MPI or MBIE may call a premises operating as an essential business and ask questions or ask the person to talk through how you are following the protocols.

I hope you are all doing OK. I am available if you need to email or call.

Take care

Jen

Email from MPI Director General Ray Smith

Kia Ora,

The Government has today reviewed the alert level settings and announced that all of New Zealand will remain at Alert Level 4 until 11.59pm on Tuesday 31 August. The Government said, at that time, the North Island south of the Auckland regional boundary and all of the South Island will move to Alert level 3.

Auckland and Northland will remain at Alert Level 4. The Government will consider how long those regions will remain at that level on Monday 30 August.

The settings for Level 4 remain the same so please continue to follow those. The primary sector, including forestry and wood processing, can operate in Alert Level 3

For information about operating safely at Alert Level 3 please visit the following websites –  Unite Against Covid-19,  MBIE and MPI .

It’s important we continue to follow the appropriate COVID-19 safety protocols for each Alert Level, and I thank you for your leadership on this to date.

Registering to Travel

If you are a business that requires travel across the alert level boundary for work, visit MBIE’s website here. This will include information about permitted travel, the business travel register, the boundary, and exemptions. The business travel register will be open from midday Sunday 29 August.

It’s important to note you won’t be able to re-use the travel documents that you applied for during previous Alert Level changes and will need to reapply for new documents.

To ensure you have the latest information, my DDGs can be contacted if you have questions. They are:

  • Jason Wilson, Forestry/Wood Processing – 022 020 6876
  • Dan Bolger, Seafood – 029 894 0691
  • Karen Adair, Agriculture, wine and animal welfare – 021 409 993
  • Vince Arbuckle, Processing/Supply Chains – 021 469 420
  • Penny Nelson, Horticulture – 021 195 8799
  • Stephen Cunningham, Director Industry & Stakeholder Engagement – 029 200 8748

I want to thank you all for, once again, stepping up at what is a challenging time and for your generous feedback to my team at MPI. Let’s keep talking to each other as issues arise.

Ray Smith

MPI Director-General

1 September 2021

The border south of Auckland is now in place.  Reports this morning are that it is functioning well, with only people who are part of essential businesses and services seeking to pass through.  This of course includes freight, which has dedicated lanes (see below).

Please note that it is a legal requirement, under Alerts Level 4 and 3, to minimise travel, except where it is essential, and that goes for essential businesses and services as well. 
Summary advice

Below is the latest advice from the Government about the operation of the border south of Auckland.

  • There are two checkpoints, northbound and southbound, on SH1 with dedicated freight lanes. Please see the boundary map here.
  • Large trucks and vehicles are encouraged to use these routes to cross the boundary where possible
  • Plan for delays and avoid peak travel times when crossing boundaries
  • Ensure travel documentation is prepared and ready for review.  This can either be printed copies of your evidence or electronic copies on your device
  • The Business Travel Document can be used as evidence of your right to travel across the boundary.  This will contain a QR code.  Go here to apply: https://www.business.govt.nz/covid-19/business-travel-across-alert-level-boundaries/
  • Other evidence of your purpose of travel is also acceptable, for example, freight or delivery vehicles could provide delivery dockets
  • You must have a form of photo ID (that is, driver licence).

24 August 2021

COVID-19 update – potential implementation of borders and what you need to know

As you all know the whole of New Zealand will remain in level four lockdown until at least midnight Friday 27th August.

The government is starting to consider regional boundaries, similar to those that were in place when Auckland previously remained in lockdown longer than the rest of the country. MPI confirm that because of the highly transmittable nature of the Delta variant, the rules around boundaries will be a lot stricter, with more constraints.

MPI have asked each sector to provide specifics of people movement across boundaries. We don’t know yet specifically where boundaries would be, but we can assume that at least Auckland will be impacted.

If you, your staff or contractors are likely to need to move across a regional boundary, there are two questions, firstly, you need to be classified as an essential business, which the avocado sector is, and secondly, the activity to be undertaken must be essential to do right now. MPI recognise that there are judgement calls in that second question.

Freight of crates bins, containers and packaging to and from packhouses, orchards, DC’s and ports including airports will be allowed.  MPI are specifically questioning the likely need for people movement.

I will be asked to put forward the number of people, the frequency of travel and the specific activity requiring travel for our sector. If this does or is likely to impact you, please email me with those specifics. Unfortunately it will not be enough to say that growers will need to travel from Bay of Plenty to Northland to undertake orchard activities on their orchard.

The argument we make for avocados, and for horticulture will be most effective if I can provide:
– the travel required
– the number of people
– the frequency of travel, for example once a week, once a month
– information on the specific activity.

MPI have suggested we all think of what plan B would look like if travel was very constrained.

On the sector call yesterday Penny Nelson, Deputy Director General of MPI articulated an appreciation of how well the horticulture sector is working, and appreciates the additional challenges being managed. She also recognised that different sectors within horticulture will be facing different issues and will recognise that as best they can in their decision making.

In terms of the setting of boundaries, Cabinet will make that call based on advice they get from all Ministries. Documentation that will be required is not yet confirmed and we will let you know as soon as we hear anything.

Kia kaha,
Jen Scoular

18th of August 2021

You will be aware of the recent Government announcement that New Zealand is now in COVID-19 alert Level 4. This impacts all of us so we remind you to all take care of yourselves and one another, and to follow the Government instructions and keep safe.

Given the change of alert levels, the NZAGA Growers Forum, Annual General Meeting and Growers Awards events planned for tomorrow, Thursday 19 August, will now be postponed until further notice. We will be in touch with details around a new date as soon as we have this information.

Operating under Alert level 4
During a horticulture industries briefing call this morning, MPI confirmed that under Alert Level 4, the New Zealand avocado industry can continue to operate as an essential service. The settings for alert level 4 at this stage, are very similar to those used last year. This means that businesses involved in the below can operate:

  • Primary industries (food and beverage production for both domestic consumption or export, plus the relevant support services) and veterinary and animal health and welfare services. It also includes businesses transporting freight.
  • Pest management services, key elements of pulp and paper plants and solid fuel.
  • Services involved in diagnostics for critical businesses or services like biosecurity, food safety, or public health.

The Delta variant is highly transmittable and this is a high risk, fast moving situation. Businesses must operate safely and meet COVID-19 requirements and we remind you that wearing a face covering or mask, and the 2 metre social distancing rule, are critical and must be observed at all times. For more information please visit Unite Against Covid-19, the MBIE website and  MPI’s website

At this stage, the whole of New Zealand is in lockdown for three days from 11.59pm Tuesday 17 August, with Auckland and Coromandel required to be in lockdown for seven days. There is the potential for borders to be introduced which will require new rules on how people might get across borders. MPI are working through this now. Please note, the advice could change at short notice as the situation develops.

Relevant essential workers will be required to show a letter from their employer to make it clear they are allowed to travel and move around. A template for an employer letter to authorise employee services essential travel can be downloaded here.

On the horticulture call this morning Minister of Agriculture Hon. Damien O’Connor reiterated his thanks for behaviour at the last lockdown and requests a similar behaviour for this lockdown. The Delta variant is very challenging, and globally we are still learning about it. The Government is mindful of the pressure this creates and encourages us all to keep in touch, and to look after each other.

Further documents and resources are available from the COVID-19 resources section of the NZ Avocado industry website.

Kia kaha, kia haumaru,

Jen Scoular
CEO NZ Avocado

17th of August update

The Director General of Health has approved class exemptions from Auckland’s cross-boundary travel restrictions during Alert Level 3 for horticultural workers, following a request from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

Relevant workers crossing checkpoints will be required to show the following two letters as evidence of their exemption.
– An exemption letter from the Ministry of Health – download here
– A letter from their employer confirming they are crossing the checkpoint as part of work in essential services – download here

MPI guidance for workers moving between regions operating at different COVID-19 alert levels can be downloaded here .

Further government information about travel in and out of Auckland and exemptions for travel can be found here.

If you have any questions or concerns about crossing regional boundaries for avocado work, please do contact us on 07 571 6147.

Kia kaha, kia haumau,
Jen Scoular
CEO NZ Avocado

12th of August update

As New Zealand moves into COVID-19 alert level 2 and the Auckland region into level 3 at 12:00pm today we urge you to take care, keep safe and follow Government instructions set out on the COVID-19 website here https://covid19.govt.nz/ .

A plan is in place between Government and industry, I have been on a call with Government this morning and daily update calls will resume again from today. NZ Avocado has developed a COVID-19 communications plan and is in regular communication with other horticulture sector groups and government. We will communicate any updates that impact the avocado industry as soon as we are informed via Avoconnect and the NZ Avocado website https://industry.nzavocado.co.nz/covid-19-update/.

The key points from today’s call with Government are:

  • As a food producer, avocado production and supply is deemed an essential service in the primary sector, and will continue to operate. We will continue to provide food for New Zealanders.
  • There is no disruption anticipated to the movement of goods to ports in and around Auckland and New Zealand.
  • Food and people working in essential services are able to travel through Auckland.
  • Businesses operating in the avocado supply chain in the Auckland region will be required to move to Level 3 operating protocols.
  • Supermarkets, dairies and petrol stations will remain open.
  • For independent fruit stores, cafes and restaurants in the Auckland region at alert level 3 customers are not allowed on the premises. These businesses must trade without physical contact with customers, for example through phone or online orders, delivery, pick-up and drive-through. This will likely have an impact on avocado demand.
  • For any avocado employees required to cross the boundary into the Auckland region to do their job, their employer should provide a letter confirming they are operating as part of an essential services business.
  • It is highly recommended that people wear masks when out in public at alert level 3.

Thank you to all those who have registered to attend the upcoming field day, AGM and Grower Forum in Whangarei. We continue to keep a watching brief on Government announcements and will communicate changes to these events, if any, later in the week.

At NZ Avocado we are all using the COVID-19 contact tracing app and recommend you all do as well.

Take care, look out for one another and please contact me or the NZ Avocado team on 07 571 6147 if you have any questions or would like to talk through any potential challenges.

Kia kaha, kia haumaru,
Stay strong and stay safe.

Jen Scoular
CEO NZ Avocado

8th of May update

08 May update

COVID19 Alert Level Table

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14th of April update

Please see the final Horticulture guidance for staff health and safety here.

Credit goes to the teams at KGI and Apples and Pears NZ working closely with MPI to confirm this guidance.

This is guidance only and each business has to put in place risk management that is appropriate for their own situation.

MPI have said that:
Ultimately it will remain the responsibility of individual operators to implement the guidance in their own workplaces. They will need to do this in a way that makes sense for them and provides the necessary precautions and protections for their workers and the general public, but this higher level guidance will certainly help them with meeting their responsibilities. If they cannot achieve the 1m separation our recommendation would likely be that additional safety measures need to be put in place, and that PPE may be advisable.

Obviously we’re all learning from operating in this new environment and we should treat the guidance as a living document and be prepared to adjust it as best (or better) practices emerge.

On other matters, on the ground verification of essential businesses continues – and the horticulture sector is doing well.

I had a verification phone call this morning, as I have registered NZ Avocado as an essential business.
Based on what I had included in the registration questions, they wanted to verify by phone some of the protocols in place in the office. Currently working from home suits all of us so no-one is working in the office, but a few of us need to access it for some documents that are not yet digitised.

The verification officer was very polite, was only constructive, and we passed, with a comment we have probably done more than required.  Which you’d expect as I am trying to make sure all the rules and information was provided correctly for my stakeholders!

I was interviewed on Rural Today radio this morning, and let listeners know there are still plenty of avocados available in supermarkets, especially while the food service and independent fruit stores are in lockdown.
I suggested avocados were a great choice – lots of ways to enjoy them, they are super healthy and contain vitamin C and B6 which support a healthy immune system, and while we are at home – we have time to try new recipes.

We are continuing to promote avocados and today we launched an avocado virtual dinner party promotion – #avopartyanyway. We want to help re-connect families and friends in lockdown with a delicious shared avocado meal.

Our team had a practice run on Friday night and it was so much fun – well we started with tequila avocado cocktails so you’d hope we had fun.

Anyway, have a look on the website or come back to me if you’d like more information.

Kia kaha kia haumaru, stay strong, stay safe

Jen

8 April Update

Day 14 and reduced new cases for three days in a row. I do like the “cautious optimism” our Prime Minister admits she holds.

It was great to hear her specifically highlight the horticulture sector today in her address today, and in more detail, talk about the significant changes the kiwifruit and apple and pear sectors had undertaken to ensure they continued to produce and market fresh fruit.
She highlighted the much higher percentage of kiwis employed in horticulture this season, recognising the great initiatives to offer employment to those who had lost roles in other non-essential businesses.

We now need to understand what alert level 3 might look like for our industry.
On the call today MPI highlighted that it would still require distancing between workers, but there would be a move away from the very tight definition of essential services.
Most businesses would be able to function again, but with staff ideally working from home.
Bars, cafes and restaurants would remain closed, and gatherings of 50 or more people would not be allowed.

Horticulture is pushing for the opening of independent fruit and vegetable stores, and our vegetable sector is pushing for drive-through food takeaway services to be re-opened, and maybe fish and chip shops. A lot of lettuces, tomatoes and potatoes are apparently sold through takeaway fast food and of course, potatoes through the fish and chip shops. I have to admit I picked up a rotisserie chicken the other day – the closest I thought I could get to takeaways under lockdown.

I would like to hear from you on what you feel is important that we ensure is able to happen in alert level 3, and any areas that you are unsure about.

MPI COVID19 alert system

MPI verification visits
A further 500 visits have been made by MPI to essential businesses, four resulting in letters being sent outlining improvements that are required, and a re-visit has seen these rectified. No horticulture businesses have received a letter.

MPI acknowledges that the primary sector has taken lockdown very seriously and are managing to keep people safe while implementing COVID19 requirements.

MPI have also acknowledged that they get a lot of value from the daily calls they are having with the Chief Executives of all horticulture sectors, as this allows them to highlight to their senior leadership team any issues in a very timely manner.

MPI have asked for feedback on the following:

MPI Senior Leadership Team are requesting updates on issues experienced by your sectors/horticulture businesses caused by COVID-19. These can be in relation to farm inputs, production, packing, sales/distribution, trade or other issues.

Please send any issues you have or foresee in the near future through to me jen.scoular@nzavocado.co.nz, and I will forward on to MPI.

I hope this email finds you well and healthy. Thank you for the efforts you are making during this alert level 4 period to enable our sector to continue.

Kia kaha kia haumaru, stay strong, stay safe.

Jen Scoular
CEO NZ Avocado

3 April Update

3 April update

A verification team from MPI have started visits to essential businesses. MPI reports these are going well, that they report people are trying hard to comply and the team are getting positive reception from the entities they visit.

One sector reported that their entities were quite nervous prior to a visits, acknowledging how much has had to be put in place in a short time, but were the visits went very well, with only constructive comment received.

It would be good to know when you are visited please, with some comment about how it went, and any feedback you received. You can email me at jen.scoular@nzavocado.co.nz

To date 18,000 registrations have been received onto a registration platform that MPI acknowledge was built in a day – and has now ceased up.
So registrations are now closed, if you need to contact MPI, please email info@mpi.govt.nz, and be informative in the subject line about your enquiry.

If the enquiry is about registration as an essential business, please put that in the subject line.

There was a ministerial meeting last night, and a couple of messages coming out are important to be thinking about.
A question was raised as to what happens to the end of this four week lockdown.
Horticulture will be asked how they would see their essential businesses changing if we went in to a level 3, or if some regions went to level 3, as that is still a possibility.

Those people involved in annual crops are having a very challenging time deciding whether to plant or not, as a large portion of their crop is sold normally to restaurants and fruit and vegetable shops, neither of which are open in level 4.

Likewise in avocados, there is recognition we have a cyclical set of activities that need to be undertaken to produce a good crop. Some of those things can be put off for a while, but not forever, so we need to determine what those activities are, and how we ensure they are able to be undertaken.

Shelter-trimming was deemed non-essential in the next three weeks. Likewise I have seen several newsletter saying the soil tests normally done end of March will now be done end of April.
For avocados, we need to be thinking about how the start of our season might look under a level 3 scenario. See the levels from the MPI website below.

But we are still getting a clear message that level four will continue at least until the end of the planned four week period.
Right now the focus is on coping with level 4. A procedure document – the standards against which MPI will verify compliance to Covid19 requirements – is still being finalised, but will be available on the NZ Avocado website as soon as we have it.

Bevan and I had a video conference with the New Zealand marketer group this morning and they have the following key messages to share with growers.

Message from NZ Market Group

New Zealand market demand for avocados has been impacted by COVID 19 self isolation restrictions. All restaurants, cafes and independent fruit stores are required to stay closed during the Level 4 alert period, which means there are less channels available for marketers to distribute your avocados. Supermarkets are now the only option marketers have available to move meaningful volumes of avocados.

New Zealand marketers do not anticipate any changes in the reduced levels of demand the market is currently experiencing until the alert level 4 period is over.

Some marketers do have planned supermarket retail programmes still operating and are working hard to keep avocados on supermarket shelves, however there is very little room in the market for any volumes outside of these planned programmes.

Marketers urge all growers that still have late avocados hanging to have a conversation about current conditions with their marketer before making a decision to harvest.

I’m very pleased to have made it through this week. It is certainly very challenging, and I know my team and I will enjoy some time off over the weekend.

My phone stays on, so do contact me if you need to.

Kia kaha kia haumaru, stay strong stay safe

Jen

2 April Update

Some updates from MPI today:
There have been questions about availability of PPE, personal protective equipment.
Some are being manufactured in New Zealand. Health services will get priority supply but across government they are developing a plan to manage the allocation and distribution to essential business, including horticulture.
This will take a couple of days. So they suggest if you have access to PPE from your own sources, utilise those until there is more available supply.

Update from kiwifruit that the first reefer vessel has arrived in Japan and the first is about to arrive in China.
Demand is strong and fruit quality is good. They are seeing amazing response from New Zealanders moving into roles in kiwifruit, having lost previous roles due to Covid19.

MPI has reported that the COVID19 essential business registration system is having IT issues and is currently shutdown.
Many entities registered more than once because there was no confirmation given, so there are double ups in the system.
They are also finding entities registered when they are not eligible to essential business status, so they need to be taken out.
There was also a story of one business receiving 5 different numbers, having registered only once.
If you intended to register but haven’t been able to, email info@MPI.govt.nz.

Please let me know where we can be of service.

Kia kaha kia haumaru
Jen

1 April update

Confirmation of your registration as an essential business

We have recommended you do register as an essential business. Click here to register.

To view MPI guidance for registering as an essential business, click here

When you have registered you will receive a confirmation from MPI Approvals as follows:

Email MPI.Approvals@mpi.govt.nz

Your reference number: [will be specified here]

Thank you for completing MPI’s essential service safe practice registration form.

If you are an essential primary industries service or provide an essential support service, please continue to implement safe practices to protect workers and prevent the spread of COVID-19, and please keep operating.

A list of essential services is here: https://covid19.govt.nz/government-actions/covid-19-alert-level/essential-businesses/

A list of primary industries essential support services is here: https://www.mpi.govt.nz/covid-19-essential-primary-sector-service-registration/key-services/

MPI will begin verifying the safety measures across the system. Please contact us if we can be of assistance on 0800 00 83 33 or info@mpi.govt.nz

If you are not an essential service or support service, or if we have advised you not to operate, you should already be closed.

Kind regards

The Ministry for Primary Industries.

Verification visit information from MPI

MPI want to support you through this process and appreciate your cooperation at what is a challenging time.

Outlined below are the next steps in the verification process as we seek assurance from essential businesses and support services that they are implementing safe practices to protect workers and prevent the spread of COVID-19 during Alert Level Four.

MPI staff have been reviewing registrations over the weekend, and based on this may need to follow up with emails, phone calls or in some cases, site visits from Monday 30 March.

If MPI staff need to visit you, they will carry MPI identification (with some being Warranted Officers) and will be conducting their duties safely by following Ministry of Health guidelines around social distancing and proper hygiene.

MPI will generally advise of verification visits on the day. If you have any specific PPE measures or site-specific issues, please flag this on the call prior to the verifier’s arrival. Not all visits will be notified.

If you are visited, verifiers will ask some questions about your registration and may wish to view how you are putting in place the plans you included in your registration. Where issues are identified, these will be talked through with actions identified and noted. This could also involve a follow-up visit.

In the meantime, if you are an essential primary industries service or provide an essential support service, please continue to implement safe practices to protect workers and prevent the spread of COVID-19, and please keep operating.

Thank you for doing all you can to protect New Zealand.

Bryan Wilson

Deputy Director-General New Zealand Food Safety

MPI

27th of March update

Dear Grower,

We hope you are well, and staying safe on day 2 of this unprecedented situation.

Please reach out if you need to, there are phone numbers for my whole team on the website, and we welcome emails texts or calls from you.

And reach out by text or phone to your neighbours or grower contacts, and your friends and family. I know I have texted a couple of friends just because it’s the right time to do that, and they have enjoyed the contact.

It is a time to connect, as we work through this together.

We have shared a number of updates about registering your business as an essential service. This is mandatory if your business has 5 or more staff or you are unable to keep the 2m rule between fewer staff.

MPI have acknowledged there a grey area around the number of people on your orchard and have given out different advice to us and to another sector.

But talking to MPI this morning and to our team, we are now recommending that if you have any doubt about whether there will be more than 5 on your business site, your orchard, during this level 4 alert, then please do register.

It is not an onerous process. It will only take you about 20 minutes. There isn’t a cut off time, so take the time over the weekend to do this, for your orchard.

It means firstly that you cover your business in case you get more than 5 on your premises.

It is good practice to read and answer the questions – and we have a guide to how you might answer them here, and on the website.

It means MPI knows you are there, operating as an essential business.

And we all know that the higher the level of compliance to the measures in place, including the hygiene and distancing measures required, the better we as New Zealand, manage this pandemic.

Again, any questions, email me on jen.scoular@nzavocado.co.nz.

We will be available over the weekend.

We recommend growers DO register with MPI as an essential business.

As a food producer your orchard is already included in the classification for an essential business and this registration confirms your orchard in that category.

Before you register, have the BN number for your business handy, you will need to include that, if you have one. (If you don’t just enter 0 in that box)

You will be taken through the form, and need to complete all questions on each page to get to the next page.

At the end, you will hit the “submit” button.

At the time of writing MPI were not confirming receipt of your registration, but they are working on an automatic email being sent, once the registration is submitted. MPI will go back to all registrations received to date (over 9,000) and confirm receipt of this form over the next few days.

Here are some suggestions of how you might answer the questions. Please make the answers relevant to your own entity.

25th of March update

25th of March update

URGENT NOTICE COVID-19 Register on Safe Practices for Operating Businesses – Deadline 5pm Friday 27th March

Yesterday, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) set up a register for safe practice in the sector as New Zealand moves to National Alert Level Four in response to COVID-19.

MPI requires safety assurances from operators that their processes protect workers and the public by limiting interactions between staff and reducing the potential spread of COVID-19.

The Government’s declaration of essential services approves those operating in the primary sector, but we just need to verify that operators are following safe practices.

Registration for those businesses who intend to carry on operating – Deadline this Friday

You are required to respond by end of business on FRIDAY 27th March (apologies for the short turn around).

If your business is undertaking essential services for MPI, you will need to read the information attached below and take action. Unless you fit the criteria of five or fewer people (including the owner) at each business site and can achieve social distancing measures, you will need to register using this link.   

Some additional information for important parts of the biosecurity system

Over the next four weeks we will continue to provide biosecurity services for all goods, vessels and aircraft arriving into the country. We will maintain capacity to respond to incursions for high impact pests and diseases (such as BMSB, Fruit fly or African Swine Fever). And as food producers (deemed essential services) continue to move livestock around the country, we will continue to manage our response to Mycoplasma bovis.

Therefore:

  • All associated biosecurity service providers need to make sure that they register (including transitional facilities that expect to receive goods during Alert Level 4).
  • Post Entry Quarantine facilities and laboratory facilities providing biosecurity services also need to register.
  • Surveillance and major responses will continue so businesses providing services for these activities must register.

The level of activity in some areas may be reduced or prioritised, for example border clearance and diagnostic work will be prioritised towards food supply and production and other essential goods.

Production Chain requirements

A reminder that production chains should achieve separation between staff and adopt mitigation measures, such as protective gear, where necessary.

For help

Primary sector businesses may contact MPI at 0800 00 83 33 or info@mpi.govt.nz for further details on registering or the registration process.

We will do all we can to support the sector through this process. However, without these assurances, businesses will not be able to operate so I urge your action now.

We must continue working together to ensure our vital primary sectors can operate safely at this time.



2020 COVID-19 Key services

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24th of March update

Dear Packers and Exporters and Directors

An update as we haven’t heard as we expected to from MPI with formal notification of some still unclear questions.

We have been working with hort sectors and HortNZ to collate issues and questions from growers and industry organisations to assist in preparing Covid-19 risk management protocols and answering the key questions required by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) for growers, packhouses and horticulture industry services to remain in operation.

The priority questions we have asked MPI to answer are to do with aspects of production and other operations:
–    How to apply the 2m social distancing rule in an indoor and outdoor environment and other conditions that can be used when exact spacing isn’t practically possible?
–    Can growers and other individuals who perform essential services in the horticulture industry who are over 70 years of age be exempt from the governments general instruction of remaining at home?
–    Can the horticulture industry be prioritised access to personal protection equipment (PPE), by receiving a statement from MPI that can be used when making PPE orders with suppliers?
–    Can independent fresh fruit and vegetable shops remain open?
–    Will essential services workers in the horticulture industry need some sort of documentation for movement to/from their places of work? If so, what will they need?

MPI has committed to providing answers to these priority questions as soon as possible, however, we do not know when this will be. In the interim, essential service businesses are asked to use transitional arrangements that progressively move towards higher levels of on-site worker isolation to contain the risk of the virus spread.

Please also recognise that this is a very stressful time, and your health, both physical and mental is really important.

As I shared with my team today, we have all been given a new job, a new role as a New Zealander within a level 4 alert, required to take on quite a lot of new things to mitigate this pandemic.

People are being asked to look after children, or dependents, to stop doing what often is the fun in our lives, to distance ourselves, to isolate.

Doing any of these things is challenging. Doing all of them together at very short notice is very challenging, especially when we are also needing to maintain the essential services of food production.

So I ask that you do take time to make sure you are ok.

Ask for help if you’re not, and stay connected with friends, family, colleagues or your industry.

Please come back to me if you need more information and feel free to share this information as required.

Kind regards

Jen

23rd of March update

You will all be aware of today’s Government announcement that New Zealand is moving to COVID-19 alert Level 3 and shortly to Level 4. This impacts all of us and we urge all to take care, follow Government instructions and keep safe.

Regarding avocado production and supply, the New Zealand Government COVID-19 website states that essential businesses, and those that support them, will continue to provide the necessities of life for everyone in New Zealand.

This means food, medicine, healthcare, energy, fuel, waste-removal, internet and financial support will continue to be available.

COVID-19 horticulture industry update following move to Alert Levels 3 and 4

This evening, more than 80 primary sector representatives attended a teleconference hosted by MPI, to discuss essential services in the primary sector. While it hasn’t answered all queries, it has now provided some clarity about continuity of business.

All food and beverage producers and processors, and their supply chains, are deemed to be essential services. Which essential businesses are included in the definition of the supply chain is still being discussed with MPI.

All orchards, packhouses, cool stores and export entities are essential services. You can continue to operate, but there will be strict rules in place that allow you to continue to do so. 

A key message from the briefing was that “we can’t change the virus to suit your operational needs; but we can change your operational needs to suit the virus”. The expectation is that you must change the way that you operate (if you haven’t done so already) to minimise the risk of spreading the virus. There must be nowhere in your supply chain that will facilitate the spread of the virus.

Therefore, to remain open for business you must be able to address the following key questions:

•    How are you ensuring that your workers are observing social distancing at home, on the way to and from work, and while on breaks?

•    How are you ensuring that your staff observe the stay at home rules at the end of each working day?

•    What personal hygiene steps do you have in place with your staff?

•    What personal protection equipment do you have available for staff?

•    What steps have you taken to limit access to the workplace?

•    How are you isolating staff to contain the risk of spread (2m rule)?

•    What processes do you have in place for staff to report illness or report potential exposure?

•    What actions will you take in the event of a confirmed infection?

•    What steps have you taken to ensure that staff who are most at risk (i.e. over 70’s) identify and isolate themselves?

All businesses will be required to register with MPI and provide answers to these questions. The online registration system will be available in the next day or so.

If you cannot answer these questions satisfactorily, you will not be able to remain open.

Please pass this information on to your suppliers/supply chain partners. They will be subject to the same rules, and will also have to close if they cannot answer the questions satisfactorily.

We will continue to update this page with any new information  specific to the avocado industry and with any useful resources.

NZ Avocado staff are all able to work from home and are available to be contacted. Our direct contact details can be found here.

Thank you to all who registered for upcoming NZ Avocado field days and sustainability workshops. Unfortunately all planned face to face events for March and April are now cancelled. We are looking into whether we can host some of these events online through webinars or live streaming and will provide an update on this shortly. Updates on planned NZ Avocado events can be found at the here.

NZ Avocado has developed a COVID-19 communications plan and is in regular communication with other horticulture sector groups and government. We will communicate any updates that impact the avocado industry as soon as we are informed.

Stay safe

Jen Scoular

CEO NZ Avocado

30th of March update

Updated 3pm

Dear avocado stakeholders,

Please see the updated guidance from MPI today – attachment in the downloads section below.

  • Guidance for staff health and safety at Alert Level 4
  • Hygiene requirements for primary processing industries with work station distances between 1 and 2 metres

Cheers

Jen

Updated 9am

Thank you to those still undertaking essential activity to ensure your business is meeting the new requirements under COVID19. Together with my team we are here to help you all to do that. We are just an email or phone call away.

We had an update call with MPI this morning.

17,000 businesses have now registered with MPI. Thank you to those who have taken the time to do so. You should have received an email confirming your registration, with a number attached.

Currently you can’t update your registration, but MPI are working on a system to allow that.

This will be required if and when you improve your processes, based on experience, or on getting more information, and wish to update those processes in your registration.

MPI reviewed nearly 12,000 of the registrations over the weekend, with 200 staff brought in to do this, and are now setting out to verify the practices.

As the hort sector, we have asked MPI that we are involved in the setting of standards against which businesses will be verified. This is happening in the next 24 hours.

We expect to get more detail on the “specifications” later today or tomorrow. There was a request to MPI to recognise that the hort sector is very different from the meat sector, with a very perishable product, a lot of diversity within the sector and large seasonal workforces requiring accommodation and transportation within the COVID19 rules.

MPI did visit 645 facilities on Friday. These were educational visits, mostly a chat with the business owner about the registration process, and to ask if any help with that was required. Some observation of what was happening in the field or inside was made.

MPI and the government recognise that people are responding very quickly, and recognise, especially in sectors being apples and kiwifruit, that the changes required are hugely challenging in what is always a challenging start to a harvest and packing season.

The Prime Minister also noted this morning that when unprecedented changes are made in a 48 hour period, that things won’t be perfect.

MPI emphasised that verification visits are not intended to come in and force a business entity to close down, but to highlight where change is required to meet our national requirements.

Where changes are required, they will be highlighted and verified at a second visit.

MPI is focussing on the horticulture and red meat sectors in the coming week.

MPI acknowledge they see some very good examples of the use of masks, screens and the management of pods of workers, who are living, travelling and working together.

The verification visits will usually be arranged with a phone call to the contact person on your registration form, although some unannounced visits are also expected.

Please come back to me with any questions around this.  I have another call at 5pm tonight so can field your issues, concerns or questions at that time.

Kia kaha kia haumaru (Be strong, be safe)

Jen

26th of March update

26th of March update

URGENT NOTICE COVID-19 Register on Safe Practices for Operating Businesses – Deadline 5pm Friday 27th March

If your business is undertaking essential services for MPI, you will need to read the information attached below and take action. Unless you fit the criteria of five or fewer people (including the owner) at each business site and can achieve social distancing measures, you will need to register using this link. 

Please see more information below and in previous updates.

Across the horticulture sector we are able to communicate with the government and government agencies. We are also working closely with kiwifruit, apples and other sectors, and with Horticulture NZ.

Please note that rules and policies are changing, as decisions are made. It is important that growers, packers and exporters, and all the supporting services keep themselves updated with daily updates.

If you have any specific questions please direct these to Jen on jen.scoular@nzavocado.co.nz

Guidelines for horticulture businesses operating as an essential service

HortNZ has put together some guidelines on the kinds of measures to have in place, when operating as an essential business under COVID-19 Alert Level 4.

Registration with MPI as an essential service

If your business has five (5) or fewer people at a site (it’s not the number of employees, it’s the total number of people who are there), you do not have to register and you can continue to operate as an essential horticultural service, provided you are taking all required precautions to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

We asked MPI what happens if the business has less than five people but a 3 person harvest gang was coming on to the orchard. This means the business has more than 5, so needs to register.

Until now you won’t have received a confirmation of your registration but MPI are updating their system so that when you register an auto response will be generated with a registration number. For those that have already registered a retrospective email will be sent by the end of the week. If after this period you have not received your registration details you should contact MPI on 0800 00 83 33.

Go to the MPI website, here:  https://www.mpi.govt.nz/covid-19-essential-primary-sector-service-registration/

MPI responses to key grower questions and concerns

26 March 2020

Please see below for MPI’s responses to your key questions and concerns.  We will update this information if it changes and let you know.

Definition of an essential horticulture service

MPI has endorsed the following interpretation of MBIE/MPI/s definitions related to horticulture as an essential service.

  • The production and processing of food and beverage products covers any production practices undertaken by growers that contributes to the growing of fresh fruit, vegetables and berries.
  • This is not limited to growers who are directly in harvest at the moment, but also undertaking activities to plant new crops, maintain orchards and farms and harvest.
  • The development of new blocks is not considered essential, as these are activities for longer term food production, rather than existing production on orchards and farms. However, each business owner should make their own decision whether the stage of production they are currently in is essential to contribute to the supply of fresh fruit, vegetables and berries to New Zealand.

Clarification about the 2m social distancing rule

We asked: it is impractical for some grower operations to continue using the 2m rule. It would mean either halving production by taking staff off the packing lines (for crops already in the ground) and it would be impossible for new crops to be planted using machinery required (transplanters) that do not enable people to be 2m apart.  Is PPE able to be used in lieu of the exact 2m spacing, especially in outdoor conditions where there’s fresh air? For packhouse environments, are other conditions able to be applied for closer spacing i.e. 1.5m and PPE with no contact between staff and full wipe downs between staff areas and shifts?

MPI’s response: Each essential horticultural business that cannot practicably meet social distancing requirements (or has more than five people present on any site) must register with MPI and provide extra information about how it will manage COVID-19 risk. A form to register is on the MPI website and must be emailed to MPI by 5pm on Friday 27 March. The business should continue operating in the meantime with the best health precautions possible.

Documentation for movement to/from workplaces

We asked : Will people need some sort of documentation for movement to/from their places of work? If so, what will they need?

MPI response : No. If essential workers are questioned by police/military/civil defence about their movements, they should be prepared to explain their work situation.

However, we have prepared a form for employers to consider using in this situation, to provide them and their staff with peace of mind.

Access to Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)

We asked: Will the horticulture and other primary industry sectors be prioritised access to PPE?

MPI response: No. The priority for PPE access is the health sector and first responders.

Growers and workers over 70

We asked:Can growers over 70 years of age still work on their orchards/farms? Can individuals over 70 years of age who perform essential services in the horticulture industry continue working?

MPI response : Yes, but they are strongly advised not to.

Independent fresh fruit and vegetable shops

We asked : Can individual fresh fruit and vegetable shops remain open?  Some of these are operated by growers on site.

MPI response : No. All such shops must close.

The below attachment is from the plant market access council (PMAC) on general trading conditions.

2020-03-26 PMAC update

17.09 KB 43 Downloads

Update: 15 Feb 2021

I have just completed a call with horticulture industry groups and government in response to the recent announcement of level 3 lockdown conditions in Auckland, and level 2 lockdown for the rest of New Zealand. There was acknowledgement from government on the call of their awareness of how disappointing it will feel to be back in lockdown. A legal order has now been issued.

All those involved in the food and beverage business including avocado growers and workers, and those packing and packaging food and beverage are “permitted” to cross the Auckland border for work. This means they may cross the Auckland level 3 border provided they are carrying the required paperwork.

The Ministry for Business, Employment and Innovation (MBIE) have set up a travel register. Food and beverage workers, including avocado workers, who might needing to cross the Auckland border will be required to register their business on the MBIE travel register.

As soon as they can, businesses are asked to register with the new Business.govt.nz system (click here to apply), which will automatically provide workers with a QR code that they can place on the dashboard when crossing the border. (Please note that individuals need a RealMe account to start the registration process, on behalf of their business.)

All travellers must also carry photo id. The government noted that police should be taking a pragmatic approach with border crossing.

If travel across the Auckland border is required immediately, the same paperwork used to cross the border in the 2020 Auckland lockdown is sufficient.

Please note that from Tuesday 16 February 2021, QR codes for travel across the Auckland border are likely to be mandatory.

Transiting through Auckland airport is allowed, provided the traveller does not exit the airport.

Government also noted on the call that green grocers can continue to operate under lockdown Level 3, which the horticulture sector fought hard to get implemented.

Government did encourage all of us to pick up the phone if we encounter issues.
Take care, look out for one another and please contact me or the NZ Avocado team on 07 571 6147 if you have any questions or would like to talk through any potential challenges.

Kia kaha, kia haumaru,
Stay strong and stay safe.

Jen Scoular
CEO, NZ Avocado

Update: 4 October 2021

4 October 2021

The Prime Minister made a number of COVID-19 related announcements on Sunday, the most relevant to supply chains being that parts of Waikato will move to Alert Level 3 from 11.59pm tonight. This is because two positive cases have been detected in the Waikato, in Raglan and Hamilton City.

The Alert Level boundary currently in place around Auckland will remain as it is and not be relocated; instead of operating checkpoints in and out of the NW Waikato area, Police will instead conduct spot checks in the Waikato area. Permitted travel and testing requirements remain unchanged.

As always, we will provide updated guidance for operators as soon as possible – in the meantime, please refer to Unite Against COVID-19. There is also now a Waikato page on the Unite Against COVID website – this will be regularly updated: Waikato page

5 October 2021

On Monday 4 October, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a number of COVID-19 related announcements.  The rest of New Zealand remain at Alert Level 2, and Auckland and parts of Waikato are at Alert Level 3. A roadmap has been set out for Auckland to carefully move out of current Covid-19 restrictions. Alert Level 3 and 4 restrictions in Auckland have helped control the Delta outbreak over the past seven weeks while New Zealanders ramped up their vaccination rates.

Based on public health advice, Cabinet confirmed its plan to transition Auckland out of current restrictions carefully and methodically, with regular check-ins to ensure we’re continuing to actively control the virus.

Step 1

From 11:59pm Tuesday 5 October, Auckland will remain in Alert Level 3 but several key changes will occur.

  • People will be able to connect with loved ones outdoors with no more than two households at a time, up to a maximum of 10 people.
  • Early childhood education will return for all
  • People can move around Auckland for recreation such as beach visits and hunting.

Step 2

At step 2 retail will open their doors, with the usual measures of wearing facemasks and keeping up physical distancing. Public facilities such as pools and zoos will open, and the number of people who can meet outdoors will increase to 25.

Step 3

Step 3 will bring back those higher risk settings.

  • Hospitality will open – seated, separated and with a limit of 50.
  • Close contact businesses like hairdressers will also open with mask use and physical distancing.
  • Gatherings will also extend to 50 people.

Cabinet will review each step weekly to ensure it’s safe to move before confirming the next step. The wage subsidy will continue to be available.

Public health advice also sets out that schools at this stage will be able to return after school holidays on the 18th of October with the final decision to be made on that closer to the time.

In total, this phasing amounts to a careful and methodical transition plan for Auckland. At the end of these steps, we will then move to a national framework that reflects a more highly vaccinated population, allowing us the ability to deal with riskier settings such as large-scale events with the use of vaccine certificates.

Cabinet also agreed the rest of New Zealand will remain at Alert Level 2 to continue to support Auckland to do the heavy lifting – but the 100 limit cap on hospitality venues is removed. The requirement for customers to be seated and separated with physical distancing remains in place.

 

Boundaries

The Alert Level boundary currently in place around Auckland will remain as it is and not be relocated; instead of operating checkpoints in and out of the NW Waikato area, Police will instead conduct spot checks in the Waikato area. Permitted travel and testing requirements remain unchanged.

As always, we will provide updated guidance for operators as soon as possible – in the meantime, please refer to Unite Against COVID-19. There is also now a Waikato page on the Unite Against COVID website – this will be regularly updated: Waikato page

Title
2021-08-18 MPI Covid Guidance for Horticulture Updated
1 file(s) 29 downloads
Covid 30/08/2021
Letter template – essential services – COVID 18.08.21
1 file(s) 126 downloads
Covid 18/08/2021
2020 – COVID-19 gazette notice horticulture workers
1 file(s) 29 downloads
Covid 24/08/2020
Ministry of Health Exemption letter
1 file(s) 92 downloads
Covid 16/08/2020
MPI safety guidance for Transit between regions at different ALs Aug 20
1 file(s) 22 downloads
Covid 16/08/2020
Detailed COVID19 Alert Level Table
1 file(s) 42 downloads
Covid 07/05/2020
COVID19 Alert Level Table
1 file(s) 32 downloads
Covid 07/05/2020
MPI Covid Guidance FINAL 13-4-20
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Covid 14/04/2020
2020-03 -Essential services- Letter for employee
1 file(s) 102 downloads
Covid 09/04/2020
2020-01 Confirmation of your registration as an essential business
1 file(s) 54 downloads
Covid 31/03/2020
MPI COVID Guidance
1 file(s) 67 downloads
Covid 30/03/2020
Covid19 Safe Workplace NZ Avocado
1 file(s) 67 downloads
Covid 27/03/2020
2020-03-26 PMAC update
1 file(s) 43 downloads
Covid 26/03/2020
Requirements for operating as an essential business
1 file(s) 88 downloads
Covid 25/03/2020
COVID-19-Employer-Employee-Agreement
1 file(s) 42 downloads
Covid 26/03/2020
Press Release MPI Register for Safe Practice
1 file(s) 42 downloads
Covid 25/03/2020
2020 COVID-19 Register for Safe Practice FAQ
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Covid 25/03/2020
2020 COVID-19 Key services
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Covid 25/03/2020