Guidance for workplaces that have a case of COVID-19

Information on the processes to follow if an employee, customer or visitor becomes a confirmed or probable COVID-19 case.

Last updated 13 December 2021:  Rapid antigen testing (RAT) is not currently being used for contact tracing when someone has been in contact with an infectious case. This does not impact on the isolation time of close contacts at this stage. RAT is being used for routine surveillance testing. Read more: Rapid antigen testing.

If the case is an employee

If an employee becomes a confirmed (or probable) COVID-19 case and has been at your workplace while infectious, there are standard processes that will be followed.

You may be told by your employee directly, or notified by public health officials and then you should:

  • inform any Health and Safety Managers and/or Occupational Health Managers within the organisation if you have them; they are the best people to liaise with public health officials
  • isolate spaces that this person may have spent significant time in and ensure cleaning is undertaken before they are able to be used (see General cleaning for more information)
  • specific or additional advice will be given by public health officials of any cleaning requirements based on the extent of exposure
  • assist as required with the contact tracing process and support any other staff identified as a contact of the case who needs to self-isolate or stay at home
  • follow all public health advice regarding communication with your employees and customers
  • you may need to consider store or site closure – this decision should be made on the advice of a public health official based on information including the extent of the exposure, the type of service you provide and how many staff members are affected
  • follow the public health official’s advice regarding any additional requirements that are specific to your type of business.

Remember, always protect the privacy of your employee. Their name must not be shared.

At any time, an employee who feels unwell with symptoms of COVID-19, no matter how mild, should be encouraged to get a test, and stay at home until they receive a negative test result.

They can seek help by calling their GP (doctor) or they can call Healthline, for free, on 0800 358 5453.  

If the case is a customer

If a customer who is a confirmed (or probable) COVID-19 case has visited your workplace while infectious, you may not necessarily be contacted by public health.

Whether you are contacted following a customer visit will depend on the level of risk and the type of interaction the customer has had at your workplace e.g., a hairdresser or a gym may be notified but a simple transaction in a retail environment may not.

Contact tracing

Contact tracing will be undertaken by public health officials and/or the Ministry of Health to determine potential exposure to employees, customers and visitors. Public health officials will advise what actions contacts need to take.

The contact tracing process involves factual information gathering which could include interviews, CCTV, checking of rosters and assessing cleaning procedures that had occurred whilst or after the confirmed case was on site.

It is important you maintain an accurate electronic record of workers, contractors, or visitors who have been at your business or workplace.

If you keep accurate electronic records of who was at the workplace or location and when they were there, it makes contact tracing easier and more efficient. You may be asked to provide this information to the National Investigation and Tracing Centre.

Where there are unknown contacts the business may be listed as a Location of Interest on the Ministry of Health website. Depending on the level of risk to the business or workplace, these businesses may not always be notified of this publication.

Contact tracing template

A template for contact tracing can be found here:

•    COVID-19 Contact tracing template (xlsx, 41 KB)
•    13 December 2021

Communication with employees

Follow advice from public health officials to help you inform other employees about the situation.

This could include:

  • contact tracing requirements and other interventions that need to be followed
  • having Ministry of Health guidance readily available for employees
  • any financial or leave support available to employees, through the business or government.

Communication with customers

Follow advice from public health officials to help you inform customers about the situation and what actions need to be taken.

This could include:

  • signage at the front of the store to inform customers of the confirmed case and including any instructions from health officials
  • notifying customers via media platform (newsletter, social media etc) of the confirmed case and including any instructions from health officials
  • having Ministry of Health guidance readily available for customers.

Remember, always protect the privacy of your employee. Their name must not be shared.

Factsheet for businesses

Source: Ministry of Health