Following the government announcement New Zealand is now at Alert Level 4.
Financial services are currently not included as ‘Alert level 4 businesses or services’ in the Public Health Response (Alert Level Requirements) Order (No 9) 2021. However, the Director General of Health has declared that registered banks and licensed non-bank deposit taking entities carrying out critical financial services may operate as an Alert Level 4 Business or Service.
It is up to individual businesses and services to check if your business or service meets the criteria of an Alert Level 4 business or service. We note however that clause 18 (2) of the Order allows for certain minimum basic operations to be undertaken on-site in certain circumstances. This may cover maintenance of critical systems / infrastructures which cannot be completed remotely.
There is also a provision to operate: “Businesses or services necessary to maintain other Alert Level 4 businesses or services” (Schedule 2, number 29). This could include back-office functions, Treasury, payment, settlement, and registry functions, or other similar activities that are necessary to maintain other Alert Level 4 businesses or services.
However, financial services firms not covered by an exemption may not currently provide any services face-to-face to the public. In all cases, if employees need to work on site, they should be strictly limited.
We are engaging with the Ministry of Health in relation to a class exemption from the Order for these services. We are working towards having these included in the next round of amendments or receiving a class exemption from the Order. We anticipate what may be considered essential financial services to be narrower than in previous Alert Level 4 scenarios.
We hope to provide more clarity on the role of financial services at Alert Level 4 shortly. If you have any concerns, please get in touch.