COVID-19 Protection Framework and the arts sector

Introduced on 3 December 2021, the COVID-19 Protection Framework (aka the traffic light system) replaced the Alert Level system, providing more flexibility as New Zealand manages COVID-19 in the community.

Last updated: 22 December 2021

What does the framework mean for the arts sector?

We've pulled together this information from the traffic lights section of the Unite against COVID website and the COVID-19 Protection Framework guidance on business.govt.nz to help share guidance we think would be useful to the arts community. Please refer to these sites for the full and most up-to-date information.  

The new framework allows businesses and services to open and operate in a way that's as close to normal for vaccinated people while minimising the virus’ spread. This is to help keep vulnerable people and those that can’t be vaccinated right now safe.


General pātai (questions)

We've started with some general questions here. Further down we look at some of the more specific guidance for events and gatherings. 

Can you choose how you’ll operate  – with or without My Vaccine Pass?

In essence, most services and businesses can choose whether their members, patrons, customers or clients will need to present their My Vaccine Pass or not, with different requirements for each.

If you’re the organiser of an activity that people will attend, you’ll need to meet requirements related to the choice you make and the framework level you’re operating under (red, orange or green).  

If you carry out several different activities, you may need to meet different requirements for each. For example, if you hold a ticketed event (event rules apply), host gatherings (public and private gathering rules apply), have a venue with a bar or cafe (food and beverage rules apply) and sell general retail (retail rules). 

You can switch between requiring and not requiring My Vaccine Pass, as long as your premises are cleaned between groups. For example, a conference venue can host a conference for a small group of people under the unvaccinated/no My Vaccine Pass rules, then clean the venue and host a larger gathering for vaccinated people.  

If you choose to switch: 

  • there must be no mingling of groups 
  • rooms should be well ventilated 
  • high-touch surfaces, such as door handles, should be cleaned between groups 
  • everyone, both staff and visitors, must be told what the vaccine pass requirements are—ie whether it’s for people with My Vaccine Pass, or a mix of people with and without My Vaccine Pass. 

You must clearly communicate what settings you’re operating under and display any required signage. Businesses must display posters advertising if they require people entering to have a My Vaccine Pass.  

Download posters from the Unite against COVID website 

Also on the Unite against COVID website is more information about operating under different framework levels: 

The framework involves a traffic light system, with red, orange and green levels. Under the framework, household bubbles do not exist. 

We’ll do our best to keep this page updated, but the Unite against COVID-19 website will always have the most up-to-date information: https://covid19.govt.nz/

What are my responsibilities when following My Vaccine Pass requirements?

When you’re holding an activity under My Vaccine Pass rules, you:

  • must check customers' passes, ideally at or near the point of entry, or as soon as possible after entry (for example, if there is only one staff member, this might be at the counter)
  • may record verification against a person’s membership/access card if the customer is a member and gives consent
  • are not required to check ID but may request it. It’s up to customers to present their own My Vaccine Pass.

Some businesses are prohibited from asking for My Vaccine Passes. These include supermarkets, pharmacies, all health and disability services, social services, food banks, petrol stations and public transport (excluding air-travel).

Verifying My Vaccine Pass

The Ministry of Health has developed a free NZ Pass Verifier app for scanning and verifying digital or printed My Vaccine Passes.

The app can be downloaded from the Apple and Google Play app stores onto a smart phone or tablet.

Further information on downloading, use and technical support of the NZ Pass Verifier is on the Ministry of Health website.

Is there detailed guidance for different situations?

There’s detailed guidance on what each framework level (red, orange and green) means for your business or service, depending on its business type and activity.  

If your business or service carries out a number of different activities, you may need to apply different rules. If the business sells, offers, or provides food and/or drink to customers or clients, the food and beverage service rules apply. 

Find the guidance at COVID-19 Protection Framework at business.govt.nz  

It includes guidance for the following: 

What's the difference between an event and a gathering?

A gathering is a sub-type of an event. If you hold a ticketed event, event rules apply, and if you host a gathering, public and private gathering rules apply. 

Events include public or private events, private galleries, concert venues and conference venues, stadiums and outdoor community events. Guidance for public and private gatherings (an event sub-type) is provided under the relevant traffic light section (life under red, orange, green) of the Unite against COVID website.) There’s also some information below.    

For both events and gatherings, vaccination for all workers is required. Workers include staff, volunteers, contractors, professional and semi-professional performers. Workers must have had their first dose when the COVID-19 Protection Framework comes into force, on 3 December 2021 (or their first day of employment after that), and both doses by 17 January 2022. 

For more information on worker vaccination requirements, please see Employment New Zealand. 

At both events and gatherings, businesses and services must display NZ COVID Tracer app QR codes, and are required to ensure that, as much as possible, record keeping is undertaken (ie all those on premises must scan QR tracer codes, or other record keeping must be used). 

Vaccines and the workplace — Employment New Zealand 

Read about record keeping to support contact tracing  

Get your QR code poster from the Unite against COVID website 

What are the face covering requirements at events (including gatherings)?

At events, workers (excluding performers where it's impractical) are strongly encouraged to wear face coverings at all levels.

For those attending events and gatherings:

Under red, you are encouraged to wear a face covering whenever you leave the house. Face coverings are mandatory for everyone on flights, public transport, in taxis, retail, public facilities, and recommended whenever leaving the house. 

Under orange, you are encouraged to wear a face covering whenever you leave the house. Face coverings are mandatory for everyone on flights, public transport, in taxis, retail, public facilities. 

Under green, you are encouraged to wear a face covering in public indoor settings. Face coverings are mandatory on flights. Everywhere else is up to individual discretion.

Read more about face coverings on the Unite against COVID website

Do we need to ask for identification to prove children are under 12 years and 3 months?

At all levels, businesses will need to use their judgement about whether a child is younger than 12 years and 3 months. They can ask the child their age, their date of birth or to see their school ID.

What does ‘defined space’ mean, in relation to capacity limits?

The capacity limits apply to the premises or a defined space. Limits include all attendees (including children), but not workers. 

On the Unite against COVID website, a 'defined space' is a single indoor or outdoor space separated from other spaces. If your venue has multiple defined spaces, you should make sure as much as possible that groups do not mix. This will limit the potential for the virus to spread among groups.

What this looks like in practice may vary. For example, it could mean making sure you have separate entrances for shared areas, or stagger start times. It might also mean you make sure that groups use different bathrooms or service counters, and that they do not mingle in entrance ways and foyers.

Capacity limits are based on the maximum number of people who could occupy the space if each person was 1 metre apart. In some cases a maximum number is also specified.

The business.govt.nz website provides more detail:  

  • defined space is an indoor area that has no direct airflow to another indoor area that is being used; or an outdoor area that is separated from other outdoor areas by 2 metres. Separate spaces must be managed so that, so far as is reasonably practicable, groups do not mix entering, leaving, or using the premises. 
  • Some capacity limits are based on 1 metre distancing. This means the maximum number of people who could occupy the space if each person was 1 metre apart. People do not need to stand 1 metre apart. 
  • There is one exception to how capacity limits are applied. If you are holding a gathering at a private dwelling or house you only need to adhere to the maximum number limit, regardless of the size of the house. 
  • For some types of businesses there are lower capacity limits for if they do not require a My Vaccine Pass, than if they do. If you have a group of people that has both people with My Vaccine Pass, and people without (excluding children), you must adhere to the lower capacity limit. 
  • Workers include anyone required to operate the business or service, and therefore includes paid and unpaid.

How can I enforce restrictions on numbers in an uncontrolled setting, such as a park, where you can’t establish a perimeter? For example – if a musician is playing in an outdoor amphitheatre in a park, could you have security walk through the crowd checking My Vaccine Passes?

For an outdoor community activity with ‘uncontrolled entry’, if the organiser is unable to ensure compliance with the attendee limits the activity may not be able to take place. 

Random spot checks of vaccine passes are not sufficient to shift an activity from ‘uncontrolled’ to ‘controlled entry’.  

Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet guidance we’ve received says that, if you use security, other personnel and/or barriers to create points of entry to the specific activity, and meet vaccine pass requirements, you may be able to carry out the activity under the ‘controlled entry’ guidelines for ‘outdoor community gatherings’.

What if a customer, attendee, volunteer or collaborator gets COVID or has to self-isolate and the show can’t go on?

Firstly, focus on everyone’s health and safety. There’s information on the Ministry of Health website about what to do if a staff member or customer gets COVID.   

It’s also important that you keep accurate records of who is working in or visiting your venue. There’s more information and a contact tracing template on the Ministry of Health website.

Financial support to keep paying people, available at all levels of the traffic light system

There are two payments available at all traffic light levels of the COVID-19 Protection Framework. They are to help employers, and self-employed, continue to pay people whose work is affected by COVID. They are explained in detail on the Work and Income website, as they make these payments.  

You can't get more than one COVID-19 payment for the same employee, or yourself if you’re self-employed, at the same time. 

Leave Support Scheme

Leave support scheme to help pay their employees or self-employed who have been advised to self-isolate because of COVID-19* and can’t work at home during that period. 

Your employer can apply for the Leave Support Scheme to help pay your wages or salary if you can’t work from home while self-isolating. 

If you’re self-employed, you can apply for the Leave Support Scheme if you can’t work from home while self-isolating. 

This means your employees, or yourself if you’re self-employed: 

  • can't come into work because they are in one of the affected groups and have been told to self-isolate, and 
  • can't work from home. 

*The person the application is being made for doesn’t have to actually have COVID-19, it could be someone they are closely connected to – see more: Leave Support Scheme - Who can get it 

Short-term Absence Payment

Short-term Absence Payment to help pay employees or self-employed who can't work from home while they wait for a COVID-19 test result**. 

Your employer can apply for the Short-Term Absence Payment to help pay your wages or salary if you: 

  • are staying at home while you wait for a COVID-19 test result 
  • can’t work from home. 

If you’re self-employed, you can also apply for the Short-Term Absence Payment if you can’t work from home while self-isolating. 

**The person the application is being made for doesn’t have to be waiting for their own test result, it could be for the test result of someone they are closely connected to – see more here: Short-term Absence Payment - Who can get it 

Financial support for events

There is some support for events that can’t go ahead, but due to a traffic light change to red not someone getting COVID. However, they may still apply to these events: 

  • 100 to 5,000 attendees: Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage is administering theArts and Culture Event Support Scheme. It’s designed to provide cover for event organisers to be able to recoup the non-recoverable losses of an event that is unable to be delivered at the scheduled time and location due to the event location being at ‘Red’ in the COVID-19 Protection Framework or under a government mandated local lockdown.   

  • 5,000+ attendees: Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment is administering the Events Transition Support Payment scheme. It’s designed to provide assurance to organisers of large-scale events.

What if a customer, attendee, volunteer or collaborator says they can’t get the vaccine?

The Ministry of Health says very few people are unable to get a vaccine due to medical grounds. In rare medical situations, some people may be able to apply for a temporary medical exemption from being vaccinated against COVID-19. This will allow them to get a domestic vaccination status certificate (My Vaccine Pass).  

Find out more about exemptions, read COVID-19 vaccine: Exemptions and certificates on the Ministry of Health website.  

Here’s an article Who can't have the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine? on the Immunisation Advisory Centre (IMAC) website. IMAC provides independent information based on scientific research regarding vaccine-preventable diseases and the benefits and risks of immunisation. 

For more information on worker vaccination requirements, please see Employment New Zealand: Vaccines and the workplace — Employment New Zealand

 .

How do we respond to someone who objects to being asked for evidence of vaccination?

Each situation will be different, so work out a plan for your event ahead of time.   

The facts are: 

  • COVID-19 can cause serious illness or death in some people.  
  • Getting vaccinated means: 
    • you’re far less likely to get really sick and have to go to hospital if you catch COVID-19. 
    • you’re also less likely to pass COVID-19 on to other people. 

Everyone has to make their own decision about getting the vaccine. So far, more than 3.9 million people in New Zealand (94% of the eligible population) have decided to get vaccinated and had their first shot. More than 3.7 million people (88% of the eligible population) are double vaccinated (Ministry of Health figures, 7 December).  

The COVID-19 vaccine is free and available to everyone in Aotearoa New Zealand aged 12 years and over. It doesn’t matter what your visa or citizenship status is. 

You might find information about How to talk to your friends and whānau about the COVID-19 vaccine on the Unite against COVID website useful.

Events guidance

Under the traffic light system, an event is an activity where entry is controlled through ticketing, fees, registration or other ways to control access.

What are some examples of venues for events that can go ahead?

If everyone is fully vaccinated, indoor and outdoor events can go ahead with some restrictions, at venues that include

  • theatres 
  • concert venues 
  • stadiums 
  • private galleries 
  • conference venues 
  • cinemas.

To meet Events requirements, how many people can attend an event (indoors or outdoors)?

Red, with My Vaccine Pass:  

Up to 100 people in a defined space at the venue at any time, based on 1-metre physical distancing. This limit includes children, but not staff. 

Red, without My Vaccine Pass: 

Most events cannot go ahead. 

If it's an outdoor community event, open to the public and not requiring tickets or registration, it can go ahead by following the Gathering guidelines below. 

Orange, with My Vaccine Pass:  

No limit to the number of people who can attend. 

Orange, without My Vaccine Pass: 

Most events cannot go ahead. 

If it's an outdoor community event, open to the public and not requiring tickets or registration, it can go ahead by following the Gathering guidelines below. 

Green, with My Vaccine Pass: 

There's no limit to the number of people who can attend.  

Green, without My Vaccine Pass: 

Up to 100 people in a defined space at the venue at any time, based on 1-metre physical distancing.  

 

Note: At events following My Vaccine Pass requirements, people need to show their My Vaccine Pass (children under the age of 12 years and 3 months don’t need a pass).

 

Following Events guidance, are there restrictions on serving food and drink?

Check the Food and drink services guidance to find out about your specific activity.

Public and private gatherings (as an activity within the Events guidance)

Under the traffic light system, gatherings include: voluntary or not-for-profit social, cultural, recreational or sporting activities; community club activities; funerals or tangihanga; faith-based gatherings; weddings; and gatherings at someone’s home.

What are some examples of Public and Private Gatherings that can go ahead, if relevant requirements are met?

Examples of gatherings include: 

  • street parades 
  • free public concerts in a park 
  • community fairs
  • catching up with friends and whānau 
  • get-togethers and parties at your home 
  • singing – for example, church choirs and other types of performance. Performers don't need to wear a face covering. Clean and sanitise musical instruments thoroughly before and after use.

How many people can attend – at a venue (indoors or outdoors) that's not at your home or private dwelling?

Red, with My Vaccine Pass:  

Up to 100 people including children (not counting staff), in a single defined space at the venue at any time, based on 1-metre physical distancing. 

Red, without My Vaccine Pass: 

Up to 25 people including children (not counting staff), in a single defined space at the venue at any time, based on 1-metre physical distancing. 

Orange, with My Vaccine Pass:  

No limit to the number of people who can attend. 

Orange, without My Vaccine Pass: 

Up to 50 people including children (not counting staff), in a single defined space at the venue at any time, based on 1-metre physical distancing. 

Green, with My Vaccine Pass: 

No limit to the number of people who can attend.  

Green, without My Vaccine Pass: 

Up to 100 people including children (not counting staff), in a single defined space at the venue at any time, based on 1-metre physical distancing. 

 

Note: At events following My Vaccine Pass requirements, people need to show their My Vaccine Pass (children under the age of 12 years and 3 months don’t need a pass). 

 .

How many people can attend – at your home or private dwelling (indoors or outdoors)?

Red, with My Vaccine Pass: 

Up to 100 people including children (not counting staff). No physical distancing required. 

Red, without My Vaccine Pass: 

Up to 25 people including children (not counting staff). 

Orange, with My Vaccine Pass:  

No limit to the number of people who can attend. 

Orange, without My Vaccine Pass: 

Up to 50 people including children (not counting staff). No physical distancing required. 

Green, with My Vaccine Pass: 

No limit to the number of people who can attend.  

Green, without My Vaccine Pass: 

Up to 100 people including children (not counting staff). No physical distancing required.

Are there restrictions on serving food and drink?

At a venue that's not your home or private dwelling (inside or outside) 

At all levels, if your gathering is at a hospitality venue, for example a licensed restaurant, you need to follow the relevant hospitality advice.

If you have exclusive use of a hospitality venue, you do not need to follow the hospitality advice.

Places of worship do not have to follow hospitality rules.

At your home or private dwelling (inside or outside)

At all levels, gatherings at private homes don't need to follow hospitality rules.

Financial support and funding applications

Will the framework change the way I apply for Creative New Zealand funding?

With the move to the COVID-19 Protection Framework, we've set a special condition requiring new applications include a COVID-19 Contingency Plan. This will need to reflect how a project might be affected by COVID-19 and the mitigation they will take under each Traffic Light Setting.

Our Guide to developing your COVID-19 Contingency Plan includes guidance and a template plan.

COVID-19 is creating financial pressure for me, my whānau, my friends or my business. What support is available?

As we all adjust to operating under this new framework, we've pulled together some of the guidance and support of particular relevance to the arts sector - take a look on our website:

COVID-19 support for the arts community: FAQs.