Jacinda Ardern's plea to businesses ahead of COVID-19 alert level 1

The Prime Minister is asking businesses to help Kiwis maintain a record of their whereabouts during alert level 1, and to be flexible in maintaining working from home situations. 

Jacinda Ardern confirmed on Monday that with no known active cases of COVID-19, New Zealand will move to alert level 1 on Tuesday, meaning all of the current restrictions on businesses will end - but it comes with some requests. 

"We want to not just move to level 1 - we want to stay there. And so there is a key ask I have of all of you today, of businesses," Ardern said during her press conference.

"We are asking all businesses and services where the public visit or enter to provide people the opportunity to maintain their own diaries of where they've been."

Ardern said the Government will continue working with sector groups, businesses, hospitality firms, churches, schools and other organisations to encourage them to display QR codes via posters at the entrance of premises. 

The QR codes can be scanned to keep a record of everyone who has been at a particular place at any given time, so that authorities contact them in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak. 

The Government is encouraging as many people as possible to download and use the NZ COVID Tracer app which has so far recorded 522,000 registrations. The number of posters created by businesses for the app is now 37,504. 

"Manual sign-in is no longer required, but we do ask that you put up a QR code poster at the door of your premises so people can scan in and can keep a record for themselves," Ardern said. 

She said the Government has also worked with the events sector on a voluntary code to ensure attendees' details are captured at bigger events where we know the virus can spread easily.

"The reason for all of this is simple," she said. "If we get one or two cases in future, which will remain possible for some time to come due to the global situation and nature of the virus, we need to shut down those cases fast."

Ardern said the last thing she wants to do is move the country back up the alert levels.  

"This is a key new behaviour we are asking all New Zealanders to adopt at level 1. You can do and go wherever you like, we just ask you keep a record of where you have been by scanning in - or noting down your movements for yourself."

The Prime Minister said she had "one more thing to ask" New Zealanders ahead of level 1: that people continue to work from home where possible. 

"There has been some good adaptation over the past couple of months with flexible working. This is progress and has helped people with care arrangements and has also helped to avoid traffic congestion - these things we should not lose."

Ardern has asked the State Services Commission to issue new workplace guidance to make it clear that every public sector worker should return to their usual place of work, taking into account flexible work policies.

"We've got to level 1, now let's make our next goal supporting our recovery, right across the economy."

The move to level 1 means that from midnight, retail and hospitality is back without limitations and public transport across the country is fully opened - but the border will remain closed to non-New Zealanders. 

"This freedom from restrictions relies though heavily on the ongoing role that our border controls will play in keeping the virus out," Ardern said. 

"We are confident we have eliminated transmission of the virus in New Zealand for now, but elimination is not a point in time - it is a sustained effort."

There have been no new reported cases of COVID-19 for 17 days in a row and there are no longer any known active cases.