The Meaning of Essential

At Alert Level 4, only certain businesses can operate or have customers on the premises.

Most confusion seems to be around which businesses can have customers on site and who can deliver.

Only 14 types of essential services are allowed to have customers on their premises. These are:

  • Supermarket, dairy or food bank
  • Pharmacy
  • Liquor store (in areas with a licensing trust)
  • Petrol station
  • Self-service laundry
  • Hardware store (for trade customers only)
  • Health service 
  • Accommodation service
  • Court or tribunal
  • Social and community-based service to maintain critical wellbeing or crisis support
  • Emergency service
  • Parliamentary services
  • Passenger transport by road, rail, air or sea
  • School hostel

Food that can be delivered:

  • Uncooked food delivery services such as meal kits
  • Cooked food delivery services where referred by MSD, DHB or ACC, for example Meals on Wheels

Green grocers, butchers, bakeries, and fishmongers cannot open to customers.

Uncooked food products and bakery products can be sold online. All orders must be contactless, including payment and delivery.

This is the full list of Essential Businesses:


Accommodation services for essential workers and people who need to be isolated/quarantined


Customs New Zealand, Immigration New Zealand and the Ministry for Primary Industries

Building and construction

Building and construction related to essential services, critical infrastructure, or immediately needed to maintain human health and safety at home/work

Courts, tribunals and the justice system

Courts of New Zealand and tribunals

Critical Crown entities (eg Electoral Commission)

Fast-moving consumer goods

Businesses involved in the supply, delivery, distribution and sale of food, beverage and other key consumer goods (but not takeaway shops)

Financial services

Banks, insurers and other financial institutions


Hospitals, primary care clinics, pharmacies, medical laboratories, care facilities

Ambulance services

Mortuary services

Local and national government

Any entity involved in COVID-19 response or that has civil defence/emergency management functions

Key public services

Primary industries, including food and beverage production and processing

Packaging, production and processing of food and beverage products

Food safety and verification, inspection or associated laboratory services, food safety and biosecurity functions

Veterinary and animal health/welfare services

Public safety and national security

Emergency services

Security and intelligence services

Justice system

Public safety and national security roles


Any entity (including research organisations) involved in COVID-19 response, hazard monitoring, resilience, diagnostics for essential services

Social services

Welfare and social services, including NGOs, which meet immediate needs (further guidance will be provided)

Transport and logistics

Transport services

New Zealand Post and courier services

Any small passenger service vehicle driver - including taxis and ride-share services

Utilities and communications, including supply chains

Electricity, gas, water, waste, fuel, telecommunication services, internet providers and media