Coronavirus: Jacinda Ardern urges businesses to prepare for alert level 3

New Zealand businesses are being urged to prepare for the eventual move to alert level 3, which could come as soon as this week.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said during the daily COVID-19 press conference on Sunday that workplaces need to know if and how they can safely operate once the alert levels change.

"Prepare yourself and your business, if you're not currently operating, to be in a position to be able to operate.

"Do that assessment around social distancing within your workplace. If you're a retail outlet, do that work around contactless commerce, because we want those who are able to safely open to safely resume when the time comes."

The decision on whether the country will stay at alert level 4 or move down to level 3 will be announced on Monday.

Ardern says a difference between level 4 and level 3 in terms of workplaces that can open is the move from "essential only" to "safe only" business practices. This means there can be no face-to-face transactions, but trading can take place through phone and online orders, deliveries, pick-ups and drive-thrus.

"We are very, very aware though - and it's not just businesses that have been in hibernation for the period of alert level 4 - both small and large are feeling it. We know that all too well. But ultimately what we've tried to do is create an alert level where we can move as a nation down in between, rather than segmenting off different parts of the economy," she says.

Under alert level 3, hospitality workplaces can reopen but only for delivery, drive-thru and contactless pre-ordered pick-up - customers can't enter stores. Additionally, all retail stores and malls must stay shut but click-and-collect and online shopping can begin.

Ardern's comments came as the Ministry of Health confirmed one new COVID-19-related death, bringing New Zealand's death toll to 12. There are nine new cases, made up of four confirmed and five probable cases. The total number of COVID-19 cases is now 1431.

Five of the new cases were recorded in the Waitemata District Health Board area in Auckland. There were three in Canterbury and one in Waikato.

There were 45 new recoveries reported, for a total of 912.