COVID-19 Business Information and FAQs

PNZ is continuing to monitor COVID-19 updates to provide members with information for physiotherapy businesses as it becomes available. Answers to some frequently asked questions are below as well as links to business-related COVID-19 information. Please also check the PNZ COVID-19 web page as there may be additional links relevant to your business. We are following Government advice and while our website is being updated regularly, please be aware that the latest resources are on the New Zealand Government pages.


COVID-19 Business Support

Updated 4 September 2020

Please visit business.govt.nz for the latest COVID-19 business information and register here to receive COVID-19 updates directly from the Government. Some of the support available to businesses is below.

  • Leave Support Scheme: The COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme provides a payment to businesses to help pay workers if they need to stay away from work and cannot work from home due to COVID-19 public health guidance.
  • Business Advice: Your local Regional Business Partner Network can offer access to expert advice through COVID-19 including cash flow and finances, HR issues, health and wellness, business continuity planning and digital upskilling.


Frequently Asked Questions

With the COVID-19 situation changing rapidly, Physiotherapy New Zealand is continuing to monitor updates to provide members with the latest information as it becomes available. We are following national and international best practice.

We urge you to be vigilant for signs of the virus and be aware of Government information sources.

The PNZ website has links to shared resources, including the Ministry of Health (MoH) and Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE). While our website is being updated regularly, please be aware that the latest information is on the Government pages.

There are, of course, some physiotherapy specific questions. We will continue to add to these where it is helpful to provide more specific advice not covered elsewhere.  Because the answers are date specific we have dated the answers and will update as the situation changes.

Will telehealth be funded if we can’t see patients?

  • ACC have agreed to fund physiotherapists to provide  telehealth for initial contact and follow up. The ACC COVID-19 information for providers is here
  • Answer reviewed 12 August 2020.

Do treatments via telehealth impact the total number of client treatments funded by ACC? 

  • Currently ACC considers telehealth a tool through which a provider may choose to deliver a consultation. All treatments, whether delivered in-person or via telehealth, contribute to the total number of treatments received by the client. So for CoTR the trigger limit for treatments is 16.
  • ACC are working to ensure their codes reflect this (due to codes being implemented quickly, as the country went into COVID-19 alert levels, ACC’s normal infrastructure regarding treatment limits was not able to be put into place).
  • ACC information on prior approval for further treatment is available here. This includes that prior approval is required when “the treatment trigger number of 16 has, or is about to be reached.”
  • Answer reviewed 23 June 2020.

If we are using telehealth what is the best platform out of Skype/Messenger/WhatsApp/Hangouts? If the client doesn’t have access to technology can we use a phone only? 

  • PNZ doesn’t have a recommended platform.
  • You will need to consider patient preference and how a remote consultation can be achieved. The ability to be able to use any one / two that cross over apple and android would be best…..or the ability to use all 4.
  • Please refer to Risk Management For Skype Use For Clinical Video Consultations.
  • Here is the link to the AHANZ telehealth guidelines.
  • The service needs to meet the Physiotherapy Telehealth Standard.
  • ACC expectations are that telehealth services will be via videoconferencing as this type of capability is integrated into many practice management systems and many people have smart phones. However as a COVID-19 response they will accept telephone consultations as per the Physiotherapy Board of New Zealand guidelines below.
  • ACC’s reference for tech used and security is existing guidelines as per NZ Telehealth Forum and Resource Centre.
  • Recognising that not all people accessing services have access to technology the Physiotherapy Board of New Zealand have set out some guidelines on telehealth during COVID-19.
  • Answer reviewed 1 April 2020.

What is the advice about masks now – it has changed since the earlier Alert Levels?

  • The government has updated its guidance regarding wearing masks – particularly at Alert Level 2 and above. At this stage the government is recommending, but not requiring, masks where physical distancing is not possible. Physiotherapy treatment will fit that category therefore recommending wearing a mask is recommended. This may change. Please note that wearing masks is required on buses, trains, ferries and on all flights (except where exemptions apply). Face coverings such as a bandana or a scarf can also be used if you don’t have a mask. The Ministry of Health advice around masks is here
  • At Alert Levels 3 and 4 where urgent treatment is given PPE including masks is required.
  • Answer reviewed 4 September 2020.

Can we use re-useable masks in our physio practice and what guidance is there around these masks?

  • As part of PPE use the overall guidance around hand washing, the putting on and taking off equipment is standard regardless of type of mask. The Ministry of Health guidance on standard infection control precautions is here
  • Medical/surgical masks should be used any time if screening questions have indicated there is a risk the patient/client has a respiratory illness.
  • Re-useable masks may be considered. Note these masks should be changed after 4 hours or earlier if mask becomes damp or soiled. Washing for re-useable masks requires water temperature of at least 60°.
  • The protocols for donning and doffing re-useable masks are the same as for disposable masks.
  • The need for 4 hour changes and washing will mean you need to ensure an adequate supply of re-useable masks per staff member.
  • Answer reviewed 4 September 2020.

Can physiotherapists require a patient to wear a mask as a condition of providing treatment to the patient?

  • Yes. The government advice for people at Alert Level 2 is “wear a mask in situations where physical distancing is not possible”. Physiotherapy treatment will fit that category therefore recommending wearing a mask is recommended.
  • Treatment at Alert Level 3 is only for urgent care and PPE including masks is required.
  • Answer reviewed 13 August 2020.

If the patient refuses to wear a mask, can the therapist refuse to provide treatment?

  • Yes. Under the Physiotherapy Code of Ethics 4.5 a Physiotherapist can refuse to treat a patient if they have good reasons. The patient should be informed of the reasons; offered alternative options of care, such as telehealth or can be referred to another healthcare provider.
  • Answer reviewed 13 August 2020.

What cleaning product should I be using in my clinics?

  • The Ministry of Health advice on cleaning following a probable COVID case is here. Any hospital grade detergent/disinfectant is suitable. MoH recommend a 2-in-1 (cleaning and disinfectant) to increase efficiency.
  • Answer reviewed 12 August 2020.

Where can I get PPE, including masks?

  • Your usual supplier should be able to provide PPE including hand sanitiser and masks. The Ministry of Health have requested you only contact them if you cannot access your own supply. Note: surgical masks are recommended for most physiotherapy treatment. Aerosol generating procedures may require a fitted N95 mask. Such procedures should only be done in the DHB setting for if COVID-19 infection is suspected.
  • Answer reviewed 13 August 2020.

Should I be cancelling group exercise classes?

  • For Alert Level 2 the advice around group sessions (presuming these are fewer than 100 people) is they can continue with physical distancing measures in place – but of course that does depend on the group. Your consideration for a group session for mostly vulnerable population would be different to a Pilates reformer class in the community.
  • At Alert Level 3 group treatment and exercise classes are cancelled.
  • Answer reviewed 12 August 2020.

Where can I get training on COVID-19?

  • London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) have teamed up with the UK Public Health Rapid Support Team to offer a course on COVID-19. Running for three weeks, this online course is being offered at no cost. Read more here.
  • Physioplus is providing an online programme of courses on COVID- 2019 at no cost. The aim of the course is to provide a practicing physiotherapist with the knowledge, practices and skills to allow them to play a proactive role in global and local efforts to reduce the impact of this pandemic. Read more here.
  • Answer reviewed 20 March 2020.

What happens if a Physio or one of my staff is thought to have COVID?

  • Contact the Ministry of Health’s, Healthline on 0800 358 5453 as soon as possible to determine:
    • contact tracing requirements
    • who needs to be tested
    • their advice around the clinic/organisation remaining open
  • Risk assess to determine if it is safe to remain open or if the clinic/organisation needs to be closed if awaiting guidance and instruction from the Ministry of Health. 
  • Deep cleaning of the clinic in line with guidance from the Ministry of Health on cleaning following a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19.
  • Contact the Physiotherapy Board for any further guidance.
  • Answer reviewed 12 August 2020.

Do I have to register all kanohi-ki-te-kanohi visits with the Physiotherapy Board?

  • The Ministry of Health do not require this provided you have the QR Code for NZ COVID Tracer app in place and are recording patient details. This allows track and trace information to be collected.
  • Answer reviewed 13 August 2020.

Do I need a QR code for the NZ COVID Tracer App?

  • From midday on Wednesday 19 August all businesses must display a QR Code for the NZ COVID Tracer App. You can download the posters from here.
  • Answer reviewed 12 August 2020.

My practice is inside a medical centre – if they have a QR Code do I need one also?

  • The requirement is for each business to display a QR Code.  If your business is separate to the medical centre then you should have your own code.
  • If your business is part of the medical centre you may still chose to have a QR Code poster – this will help your staff and patients register their visits to you.
  • The COVID Tracer app also allows for manual entry of visits which can be useful for community visits.
  • Answer reviewed 13 August 2020.

Does the insurance through PNZ cover business continuity?

  • The PNZ insurance programmes through BMS are designed to protect members against professional indemnity and/or public liability.
  • Members who have a personal accident or illness policy to protect their own incomes whilst unable to work should check to see what cover this would provide.
  • Members should also refer to their clinic insurance for any potential business continuity cover that may apply due to closure or loss of income.
  • Answer reviewed 30 March 2020.

What can physiotherapists do to support the Public Health CoVID19 response?

  • The Ministry of Health set up a register of health professionals available to support the Covid 19 response – the Surge Workforce. This is currently under review.
  • Physios who had registered for this can expect to be contacted and have their details and availability confirmed.
  • Answer reviewed 12 August 2020.

    If I take on work from the Ministry Surge Workforce register will this be covered by my BMS insurance policy through PNZ?

    • The DHBs are each expected to have blanket insurance that covers clinical practice of the whole clinical workforce, so seconded staff would be covered by that.
    • Answer reviewed 30 March 2020

    Why isn’t physiotherapy able to provide kanohi-ki- te-kanohi care like GPs?

    • The public health imperative to reduce person to person contact to an absolute minimum in Alert Levels 3 and 4 override any considerations about the important place of physiotherapy in the primary health system and post op rehab.
    • The New Zealand health system is not well placed to manage the levels of outbreaks seen in other jurisdictions.
    • The important role of physiotherapy is recognised in the Ministry and we have the Chief Allied Health Professions Officer at the top table in the Ministry.
    • Answer reviewed 12 August 2020

    I provide services to essential workers – does that mean I am an essential service too?

    What are the Physiotherapy Board of New Zealand (PBNZ) CPD requirements?

    • A PBNZ 18 March 2020 COVID-19 update provides assurance to physiotherapists, that any course attendance impacted by cancellations due to COVID-19 will have this taken in to consideration during any audits PBNZ may undertake.
    • Answer reviewed 30 March 2020.


    Wage Subsidy Extension

    Updated 16 June 2020

    Check your eligibility for the Government wage subsidy extension, offering further support for businesses affected by COVID-19. You can apply for the wage subsidy extension if your business or you, as a contractor or solo operator, has experienced a further loss of income due to COVID-19. Read more at business.govt.nz.


    business.govt.nz

    Updated 14 April 2020

    The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's (MBIE) business.govt.nz website has a web page with COVID-19 information for businesses. This includes:

    Please note the availability of:

    • Loans for small businesses: the Government will provide loans to help businesses, including contractors and self-employed, tackle their cash flow.
    • The temporary loss carry-back scheme: if your business is expected to make a loss in the 2020 or 2021 year, you can use that loss to offset profits you made the year before

      Other Online Resources


      Employer’s Guide to Managing Coronavirus

      PNZ's employment support partner, Humankind, have provided an Employer’s Guide to Managing Coronavirus. Please read this here (received March 2020), including answers to frequently asked questions.

      Humankind also hosted a webinar for PNZ members on 1 April 2020, outlining employer obligations and options during COVID-19. A recording of the webinar is available here. Links to resources discussed in the webinar are below.


      NZ Government Economic & Business Support

      Updated 25 March 2020

      As the economic impact on businesses, organisations and their employees takes hold, the Government has announced an economic support package in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

      The following is a summary of the support package, from information collated by Physiotherapy New Zealand through Government sources (current as of 25 March 2020). Each business should carefully examine their requirements for both the business and their staff. Business advisors, accountants and lawyers should be able to provide further advice, if required.

      Additionally you can call the free Government helpline on 0800 779 997 (8am–1am, 7 days a week). Further details of the support provisions and the application forms are HERE.

      Leave and self isolation support

      The COVID-19 leave and self-isolation scheme financially supports workers to self-isolate, or stay home when sick with COVID-19. The COVID-19 Leave Payment is available for people who:

      • need to self-isolate
      • cannot work because they are sick with COVID-19
      • cannot work because they are caring for dependents who are required to self-isolate, or who are sick with COVID-19.

      Note: This is for those sick with COVID-19, those looking after those sick or those who have had ordered to self isolate due to coming into contact with sufferers.

      Wage Subsidy Scheme

      The Government has put together a COVID-19 Wage Subsidy for employers in all regions. This is to support your business if you're impacted by COVID-19 and face laying off staff or reducing their hours because of COVID-19. Wage subsidies will be available for businesses in all sectors and all regions that can show a 30% decline in revenue for any month between January and June 2020 compared to the year before (including projected revenue).

      Who can get it?

      If you're an employer, contractor, sole trader or self-employed, you may qualify to get the COVID-19 wage subsidy. To qualify:

      • your business must be registered and operating in New Zealand
      • your employees must be legally working in New Zealand
      • the business must have experienced a minimum 30% decline in actual or predicted revenue over the period of a month when compared with the same month last year, and that decline is related to COVID-19
      • your business must have taken active steps to mitigate the impact of COVID-19
      • you must make best efforts to retain employees and pay them a minimum of 80% of their normal income for the subsidised period.

      How much you can get?

      The COVID-19 Wage Subsidy will be paid at a flat rate of:

      • $585.80 for people working 20 hours or more per week
      • $350.00 for people working less than 20 hours per week.

      The subsidy is paid as a lump sum and covers 12 weeks per employee. This subsidy is for wages only. It is to help you keep your staff employed while you consider changes that may be needed while the disruption continues, and to ensure the future viability of your business.

      The Government has removed the cap on wage subsidies that can be paid to employers affected by COVID-19. The cap of $150,000 per business is gone. This applies to all New Zealand employers, contractors, sole traders, self-employed people, registered charities and incorporated societies. You are now able to apply for a wage subsidy for all your staff.

      Business cash flow and tax measures

      Tax relief and income assistance is available to people affected by the downturn in business due to the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus). There are a range of ways to help depending on your circumstances. If you have a tax agent, they should also be able to help.

      Business cash flow and tax measures include:

      • increasing the provisional tax threshold from $2,500 to $5,000 from 2020/2021
      • increasing the small asset depreciation threshold from $500 to $1,000 — and to $5,000 for the 2020/21 tax year
      • allowing depreciation on commercial and industrial buildings from 2020/2021
      • removing the hours test from the In-Work Tax Credit (IWTC) from 1 July 2020.

      Support of Māori communities and businesses

      The Government has developed a plan to support Māori communities and businesses in the face of COVID-19. This includes a whole of Government approach to providing health, social and economic support tailored to meet the specific needs of Māori.

      This includes:

      • a Whānau Māori Community and Mārae package reprioritising $10 million from the Māori Development vote to support community outreach
      • Māori Health and Whānau Ora response with $30 million targeted directly to Māori Health services and an extra $15 million to Whānau Ora commissioning agencies
      • Supporting Māori Businesses and engaging with Māori with $1 million of funding to enable a needs assessment for Māori businesses, and $470,000 to Te Arawhiti to engage and work with iwi on their COVID-19 pandemic response plans.

      Financing Guarantee Scheme

      A new $6.25bn business financing guarantee scheme is being launched and the Government will underwrite bank loans to small and medium-size business. The Business Finance Guarantee Scheme will provide short-term credit to cushion the financial distress on solvent small and medium-sized firms affected. The scheme will include a limit of $500,000 per loan and will apply to firms with a turnover of between $250,000 and $80 million a year. The loans will be for a maximum of three years and expected to be provided by the banks at competitive, transparent rates. The Government will carry 80% of the credit risk, with the other 20% to be carried by the banks. Please contact your bank for details of this.

      Mortgage Repayment Holiday

      The Government has also negotiated a mortgage repayment holiday for six months for households affected financially by COVID-19. Again please contact your bank for details of this.


      Page updated 4 September 2020