Amendments to the Government Order allowing gatherings to increase from 10 people to 100 people have been published. 

The Amendment to the Order includes some other important changes for life at Alert Level 2 — this is part of the gradual easing of restrictions that will happen as we move towards Alert Level 1.

Cabinet will next review the settings of Alert Level 2 on 8 June. Cabinet will also consider a move to Alert Level 1 no later than 22 June.

Social gatherings can be held with up to 100 people

The limit for social gatherings will be lifted to 100 people. These include events at home and outside of home like religious services, parties, weddings, tangihanga and funerals. It is important everyone keeps playing it safe.

This means:

  • While hospitality businesses continue to have the 100 person limit, group bookings of more than 10 people will be permitted, but the 3 S’s — seated, separated, single-server — still apply.
  • A funeral or tangihanga will also have a 100 person limit, and organisers are no longer required to apply to the Ministry of Health to hold one.
  • Social gatherings at a private dwelling will be able to have a maximum of 100 people.
  • A business or responsible individual, in charge of a social gathering, must ensure records are kept for contact tracing purposes, except where every person in a gathering knows each other. This includes in your home, community hall, or other such space.
  • Participating in community sport will also become easier, with greater numbers of people able to gather up to a limit of 100 people. Requirements for contact tracing still remain.
  • Workers providing a service to a social gathering, such as waiters at a wedding, are not included in the 100 person limit.

Some examples:

  • A group of 15 people could book a table at a restaurant. The 3 S’s will still apply.
  • A game of community rugby could occur so long as there are no more than 100 people on the field. Groups of up to 100 spectators will be permitted if they are separate to the field and do not intermingle with players or umpires.
  • A restaurant that employs 20 staff could have an additional 100 customers on site at any one time.

Other changes for Alert level 2

The new Order makes a number of other changes to the way Alert Level 2 rules will operate from Friday 29 May. 

Defined spaces

Businesses and institutions, including faith-based institutions and clubs, will be able to operate with defined, separated areas. The 100 person maximum applies per area, as long as intermingling in common spaces, such as entrances, exits and toilets, can be prevented.

This also applies to separate businesses that operate from the same location.

This means:

  • An indoor space or outdoor space is classed as a single space if there are walls or partitions, whether permanent or temporary, that substantially divide that space from other spaces.
  • As far as practical, staff work within one of the defined spaces.
  • A sports field can have defined spaces so long as spectators in groups of up to 100 people, are kept separate either through physical distancing or barriers.

Some examples:

  • A garden centre and café that operate from the same premise could both do so, as long as each space is clearly separated from the other and each follows the relevant requirements. The café operates under hospitality requirements and the garden centre operates under business requirements.
  • A restaurant with a gaming room can operate as 2 distinct spaces so long as those that are in the restaurant follow the 3 S’s and there is no movement backwards and forwards between each space. This means a person cannot order food in the restaurant or get a drink, go to the gaming room, and then return to the restaurant when their meal arrives. But they can order and eat food in the restaurant, pay, and then go to the gaming room before leaving. Record keeping for contact tracing is required in each space.
  • A cinema complex with multiple theatres could operate with up to 100 people in each theatre, so long as the groups of people are kept separate, and intermingling in common spaces is prevented.
  • At a community sports game which has a field and two stands either side, 100 people could gather in each space provided they do not intermingle with those from the other stand or with players and umpires on the field.

Counter service

Amendments to the Order make it clear that counter service — ordering and collecting food from a counter — is allowed, except for on-licence and club-licence premises.

This means:

  • People in a café or fast food restaurant are able to visit a counter to order and collect food, except in on-licence and club licence premises.
  • Once a person orders or collects food, they must return to their seat if they are dining in.
  • People must remain seated unless they are using the bathroom or paying for their meal.
  • If a person is taking away food, they can order and collect their food from a counter, but must ensure they maintain 2 metres distance from others.
  • On-licenced and club-licenced premises must continue to adhere to the 3 S’s at all times, with a requirement to use table service.

Contact tracing - privacy

Businesses no longer need to record a person’s residential address for contact tracing purposes.

All businesses, other than retail, still need to collect and maintain a record of staff, customers and visitors to their premises including names, visit times and an effective means of communication such as phone number or email address.

Businesses that collect personal information need to treat it with care and keep it safe. This means businesses should:

  • keep contact tracing registers secure for 2 months. When records are 2 months old, they should be destroyed
  • only share registers with the Ministry of Health or district health boards
  • not use the information collected for any other purpose, for example, marketing or customer surveys
  • make sure customers cannot see anyone else’s personal information.

A business that uses a booking system, for example a hairdresser, that already captures names, times and contact details is not required to run a separate system for keeping records for contact tracing purposes.

Faith-based institutions and clubs

Amendments to the Order clarify that faith-based institutions and clubs are classed as social gatherings, except when operating under a club licence to sell alcohol.

This means:

  • Religious and faith-based institutions are now classed as social gatherings and do not need to follow rules for businesses and hospitality.
  • Community clubs are also classed as social gatherings.
  • If an institution or club operates with a club-licence, they must follow the hospitality requirements including the 3 S’s.

Some examples:

  • An RSA that operates with a club-licence is required to meet hospitality requirements, including record keeping for contact tracing requirements.
  • A prayer group that meets in a church hall is required to meet the gatherings requirements, and the organiser must keep records for contact tracing purposes unless everyone in the group knows each other.
  • A bridge club is classed as a social gathering – as long as it does not operate a club-licence for alcohol – with the organiser or other designated individual responsible for record keeping.

Faith-based institutions and clubs will be able to operate with defined, separated areas, with the 100 person maximum applying per area, as long as intermingling in common spaces, such as entrances, exits and toilets, can be prevented.

Facilities and venues for hire

Amendments to the Order have clarified which rules apply to hired facilities or venues.

If a facility or venue has been hired for a social gathering – then the social gatherings rules apply.

Hiring means the use of the venue has been purchased – not just food or drink that is sold at the facility or venue.

For any facility or venue that has been hired for a social gathering, intermingling between attendees, including dancing, is permitted.

Facilities or venues can be commercial, for example a restaurant or bar, or non-commercial, for example a community or church hall.

Some examples:

  • A wedding reception, birthday party, post-funeral drinks, where a hiring fee is paid for exclusive use of the venue is classed as a gathering.
  • A section of a bar or floor of a hotel that has been reserved roped off, but for which you have not paid any hiring fee, is classed as hospitality and must follow the 3 S’s at all times.