Omicron update February 17

17 Feb 2022

Omicron update February 17

Bubbles of One

Bubbles-of-One can be used in the workplace to reduce the need for self-isolation for workers who come into contact with Covid. People who work alone will be able to continue working in a 'bubble of one' even if they are identified as a contact as long as they:

  • Are vaccinated and don't have any Covid symptoms
  • Don't have contact with anyone else in the workplace i.e are always more than 1.5 metres from colleagues either indoors or outdoors
  • Use a medical mask at all times 
  • Comply with any infection prevention and control protocols at work
  • Travel solo, to, from and around work or between jobs (bubble of one workers cannot use public transport)
  • Use a dedicated workplace bathroom (if this is not possible, no others should be present in the bathroom while the worker is using it).

These guidelines apply to any workers, not just critical workers. The guidelines also do not require bubble-of-one workers to return regular RATs. 

Larger Bubbles

Many of plant production sites have bubbles containing several workers and it can be impractical to reduce these bubbles to one person each.

Under the Omicron phased response, the definition of close contacts has changed.  HortNZ has created some helpful decision trees around worker contact and isolation. Most workers will not be deemed close contacts under normal Covid working conditions i.e. if they are wearing masks, sanitising, working in ventilated areas etc. 

It is important however, that workers do not socialise with each other outside of work as that might mean they are deemed a close contact if a colleague tests positive. 

View or download the indoor close contact flow chart

View or download the outdoor close contact chart

Close contact exemption scheme

Continuity Plans 

All members are encouraged to put in place business continuity plans in place for when/if workers have to self isolate due testing positive for Covid or being a close contact. In some cases this might mean reaching out to other nearby producers to share resources to assist with propagation, spraying etc.  NZPPI can potentially help partner member nurseries up with resources so contact NZPPI if need assistance. 

MPI update from February 17:

Updates about rapid antigen tests, accessing them and self-reporting results can be found on the Ministry of Health’s website here. The ministry also has guidance about COVID and the workplace here.

There is financial support available for businesses, including the self-employed, to help pay their employees who have been advised to self-isolate because of COVID-19 and can’t work at home during that period through Work and Income’s Leave Support Scheme and the Short-Term Absence Payment. Business can also make use of the Small Business Cash Flow Loan Scheme that provides loans to small businesses COVID-19 to support their cash flow needs.The Government has provided extra funding to Rural Support Trusts to help provide advice to farmers and growers affected by COVID-19.

There are a series of planning checklists, compiled by industry groups and MPI, to help people in different parts of the sector. 

  • Download the COVID-19 checklist for growers here.
  • Download the COVID-19 checklist for lifestyle block owners here.

The sector has shown its commitment to using strong health protection measures in the workplace throughout the pandemic and it is important that continues during the red traffic light setting. Please continue to encourage booster vaccinations for your staff as this is important to reduce the effects of Omicron. 





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