RSE COVID-19 information

How COVID-19 affects you as a Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) of migrants in New Zealand.

COVID-19: Alert Level 4


State of emergency declared – stay home. Symptomatic travellers to New Zealand will be quarantined.

Level 4 Eliminate

Likely COVID-19 disease not contained.

Risk assessment
Sustained and intensive transmission, widespread outbreaks

Measures (can be applied locally or nationally)

  • People to stay at home
  • Educational facilities closed
  • Businesses closed except for essential services (e.g. supermarkets, pharmacies, clinics) and lifeline utilities
  • Rationing of supplies and requisitioning of facilities
  • Travel severely limited
  • Major reprioritisation of healthcare


Epidemic notices

The New Zealand Government’s epidemic management notice relating to immigration matters comes into effect on Thursday 2 April 2020.

Immigration New Zealand is in the process of contacting all RSE employers whose workers hold visas that expire on or before 1 April. RSE employers are being asked to submit the names of these workers to indicate they require a renewed visa.

During the Level 4 Alert period RSE workers are only permitted to do essential work.

Temporary border measures: effective 23:59 Thursday 19 March

All temporary visa holders, including work visa holders, can no longer enter New Zealand. Exceptions to the border closure can be made by Immigration New Zealand for exceptional circumstances. The starting point for any consideration is that for the protection of New Zealand the border is closed. Exceptions are only in place for extreme circumstances.

Border closures and exceptions

All travelers, including temporary visa holders, who came to New Zealand from any country, including the Pacific Islands, from 4 March 2020 to 23:59 Thursday 19 March (NZTD) must isolate themselves for 14 days from the date of departure.

Self-isolation guidance | Ministry of Health

COVID-19 Economic Response Package

The Government has announced the most significant peace-time economic plan in modern New Zealand history to support people and businesses as we weather the impact of COVID-19.

COVID-19 Economic Response Package | New Zealand Government

New self-isolation health measures for COVID-19

Health Officers are screening all travellers arriving in New Zealand. Travellers deemed high risk will be assessed.

Self-isolation guidance | Ministry of Health


Self-isolation rules and any other government health measures must be obeyed.

New visa conditions: Visa holders who do not comply with instructions from a Health Officer can be detained and deported.

Employer and worker obligations

If an RSE worker currently in New Zealand is required to isolate themselves for 14 days during their time here, their employer must make appropriate accommodation and pastoral care facilities available for them.

Costs incurred during any self-isolation period, including accommodation and living costs, are the responsibility of the worker themselves (as during the normal course of employment).

RSE workers are eligible for the sick-leave scheme as part of the COVID-19 Economic Response Package announced on Wednesday 18 March (see above). Employers are required to apply for the subsidy on behalf of workers.

All migrant workers, including RSE workers, are entitled to government funding if they fall sick or have to isolate themselves while working in New Zealand (from the start date of their contract). This equates to NZD $585.50 per worker per week. However, workers will still need to pay for their food and accommodation during this time. The entitlement covers the 14 days for workers in isolation and for the entire period of sickness for workers who contract COVID-19.

Under existing medical insurance, RSE workers are entitled to receive medical treatment for any presenting conditions, including COVID-19.

Travel to and from the Pacific Islands

New Zealand citizens from Tokelau, Cook Islands and Niue travelling to New Zealand must isolate themselves for 14 days upon arrival.

Travellers to the Pacific Islands must meet the entry requirements of the country they are travelling to. Check flight availability and entry requirements before starting your journey. Health Officers are screening travellers from New Zealand to the Pacific Islands. Airlines will not allow any passenger with COVID-19 symptoms to board.

Safe Travel | Pacific Island countries

Ministry of Health | Vanuatu

Ministry of Health | Samoa

Ministry of Health | Tonga

Ministry of Health & Medical Services | Fiji

Ministry of Foreign Affairs & External Trade | Solomon Islands

COVID-19 (coronavirus): key messages translated

Your RSE workers may find useful the New Zealand Ministry of Pacific Peoples' translations of COVID-19 key messages into Gagana Samoa, Kiribati, Kuki 'Airani, Rotuman, Tongan, Tuvaluan, Tokelauan, Vagahau Niue and Vosa Vakaviti.

COVID-19 key messages covered:

  • COVID-19 is mostly spread through droplets in sneezes and coughs, so the best way to stop it spreading is by staying home when you’re sick, sneezing and coughing into your elbow, and washing your hands with soap (and drying them well).
  • If you are concerned and would like to seek medical advice, Healthline has a dedicated COVID-19 number 0800 358 5453 which is free and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Travel advisories are regularly reviewed so please check the Safe Travel website as well as the IATA Travel Centre website if you have any upcoming international travel.

COVID-19 info: Pacific languages

COVID-19 info: other languages

NZ Government Unite against COVID-19

NZ employer COVID-19 information