Coronavirus: Businesses prepare to reopen under alert level 2

Businesses are beginning to prepare to reopen under alert level 2 even though the date for that move hasn't been confirmed yet.

New Zealanders will find out on Thursday what level 2 will look like, and an announcement will be made on May 11 about a potential move out of level 3.

Similar to the change from level 4 to level 3, the move to level 2 will allow more businesses to open and more activity to take place. Physical distancing is reduced to 1 metre outside of people's homes and on public transport, and gatherings of up to 100 people indoors and 500 outdoors are allowed while physical distancing is maintained and there is contact tracing.

Owner of Christchurch's OBG Bar Nick Inkster says they already have a plan for contact tracing once they're allowed to reopen.

"A new Christchurch company has come up with a QR code which we're going to scan people coming in, so that'll be contact tracing. Also a lot of sanitiser and a lot of social distancing with our tables," Inkster told The Project.

Hair salons can also open their doors under level 2, and hairdresser Brooke Ransom from Salt Hair in Wellington is making a plan so they can reopen safely.

"Level 2 for us will be clients spaced out evenly in our salon, not overbooking ourselves, and also making sure that we have all of the hygiene plans. Everything is strategically cleaned and sanitised," Ransom says.

And Auckland Physiotherapy director Mark Quinn says the board has been working with the Ministry of Health and expects to receive specific guidelines on how they can operate under level 2.

"We know that we'll probably have to be wearing PPE, we'll still be sticking to distancing, which is obviously quite tricky when you're a physio," Quinn says.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said during a Facebook Live on Monday night New Zealand won't move immediately to level 2 once an announcement is made, instead businesses will be given advance notices around what the expectations are for that level. 

"We'll give time, we won't do anything immediately, we don't move straight away, we'll give time so people can prepare for any future move."

Although the daily Ministry of Health press conference on Monday was the first time in weeks there were no new COVID-19 cases to report, Ardern says there doesn't need to be zero cases every day in order to move to level 2.

"Don't worry, you don't have to see zero every day for us to move. But what we do need to see is some real consistency around where those cases have come from."

For example, if a person returns from overseas with the virus, health officials know where it has come from and there is "good control" over its potential spread since all arrivals at the border are placed in quarantine.

Ardern says it would be "worrying" if cases were consistently picked up and there wasn't a clear story on how they became infected.

"When we do make the decision to move, it will be because we feel the evidence is telling us that we have COVID under control in New Zealand. And so that's why we can feel confident with opening things back up," she says.