20 August 2021

As you probably saw, the Government has announced that New Zealand will continue at alert level 4 until 11:59pm on Tuesday. This email has some information and guidance to help you navigate the situation we find ourselves in.

Triage and risk assessment during lockdown

We are dealing with a national public health issue and we ask that veterinarians, as people with training and expertise in disease management, continue to demonstrate exemplary behaviour. This means actively triaging and only seeing cases that cannot be reasonably postponed.

Routine and preventative procedures are not appropriate in the context of a 7 day lockdown. If the expected lockdown length changes, this may change how you think about what can reasonably be delayed.

We understand that making decisions about this can be difficult, are context-specific and require use of judgment. We trust you to make these calls and have no intention of penalising veterinarians who make a genuine effort to navigate these issues responsibly.

To help with these decisions, we have updated our guidance on assessing emergency and urgent care during the COVID-19 outbreak and it can be found on our COVID-19 page. We strongly suggest you read and use it and we also highly recommend discussing cases that you are uncertain about with your colleagues.

Essential movement only during lockdown

We have received a very small number of concerns regarding veterinarians potentially using their veterinary credentials to allow them to leave home or travel for non-essential reasons. As a reminder, it is a legal requirement that we all stay in our homes. The exception for providing veterinary services is narrow and does not permit movement by veterinarians for other reasons.

Dealing with concerns

Veterinarians and practices around the country are making decisions about what cases they will see and how they will manage risk. There will be natural variations in how these issues are navigated based on context and individual judgment. That said, we are available to deal with serious concerns.

If you are concerned that a colleague or practice may not be acting appropriately during the lockdown, the first step is normally to speak with them about it and try to reach a resolution. If you you can’t do that or it doesn’t work, you can contact us with your concerns at [email protected] .

We will not be dealing with these concerns as formal complaints in the first instance. We will seek to deal with the matter informally, if possible. Our experience is that discussion and advice is effective in resolving most of these concerns.


We appreciate that everyone is very busy and have a lot of competing priorities to deal with. Nevertheless, please remember to take the time to look after yourself. We strongly recommend talking to family, friends and colleagues about how you are doing, even if you feel fine.

If you need support, please ask for it. There is a range of options available. As well as talking to the people around you, you can:

We’ll be back in touch next week, once we know more about the situation. If you have any questions in the meantime, please contact us. 

Take care and have a good weekend