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Coronavirus COVID–19 Update

Posted on 12 August 2020

17 August 2020

On Friday night, 15 August 2020, the New Zealand Government confirmed an extension of the previously announced escalation of COVID–19 response to Alert Level 3 in the greater Auckland region, and Alert Level 2 throughout the rest of the country.

These Alert Levels are expected to remain in place until midnight, Wednesday 26 August.

We do not envisage this having any impact on operations among our 80 Transport, Warehousing and Air & Ocean branches across New Zealand.

Your 2,451 Mainfreight team members have again implemented the appropriate safety protocols developed during previous lockdowns, including contactless interface at pick–up and delivery to ensure our customers and team members remain safe.

In the interests of our teams and protecting continuity of services for customers, all Auckland sites will be restricted to Mainfreight Group personnel - this includes carriers outside the Group that operate independently to our safety protocols and tracking systems.

Public access will also remain restricted for drop–off and collection from all our Auckland sites while we operate at Alert Level 3.

The team also see no barriers to the international movement of goods or border crossings in and out of New Zealand.

We remain available in all local regions to assist or answer any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us


12 August 2020

Last night, 11 August 2020 the New Zealand Government announced the detection of community spread in the Auckland region.

As a result, from midday today 12 August the Auckland region, from Wellsford in the North to Bombay in the South, will move from Alert Level 1 to Alert Level 3. Our understanding remains that Auckland’s borders will be policed with checkpoints.

The rest of New Zealand will move to Alert Level 2 restrictions.

These Alert Levels remain in place until midnight Friday 14 August.

Accordingly, we will retain full nationwide Transport, Warehousing and Air & Ocean services. Mainfreight will maintain all appropriate safety protocols, including contactless interface at pick-up and delivery to ensure our customers and team members remain safe. From midday 12 August public access will be restricted for drop-off and collection from all of our Auckland sites.

Alert Level 3 home deliveries in Auckland requiring placement inside the home will require special consideration on a case by case basis, with a view to protect the integrity of the receiver’s home bubble. No restrictions apply for the rest of New Zealand.

We ask for your patience as our teams navigate a new challenge with New Zealand adopting two levels of COVID-19 restrictions. It would be prudent that our Transport and Warehousing customers make a service adjustment adding extra time to current schedules.

Customers sending freight into Auckland can help us by providing a key contact and phone number on consignment notes to assist in our ability to complete deliveries.

Our local teams in each region are available to assist further.

Please contact your local branch for further assistance.

12 May 2020 Update

Yesterday, 11th May 2020, Cabinet confirmed that New Zealand will be moving from COVID-19 Alert Level 3 to Level 2 at 11.59pm on Wednesday 13th May, and provided details of the lessened restrictions that will exist at that level.

Accordingly, Mainfreight will resume full services for business and residential delivery customers from Thursday 14th May. We do ask for patience, particularly in the first week, as we clear a backlog of freight which has been unable to be delivered during the lockdown periods of COVID-19. Supply chains will be slower during this week whilst businesses, both senders and receivers, re-establish operations.

Level 2 allows us to provide the full suite of services for residential deliveries and collections including inside placement of items, and installation of appliances, as required. All our depots nationwide will welcome back visitors for services including freight collection, drop offs and cash sales.

We expect all 18 of our warehouses nationally to receive a significant spike of orders as the market reopens for business. Again, we respectfully ask for tolerance in the first week of level 2, allowing time to re-establish normal services.

We do not expect courier companies to as readily resume normal services from our warehouses due to the unprecedented volumes they have experienced, as reported in recent media articles.

Our sales teams welcome opportunity to re-establish face-to-face customer visits, but the alternative options for telephone or internet web conferencing will also remain. Mainfreight continues to adopt the safe operating practices outlined by the NZ Ministry of Health guidelines, including site contact tracing, and safe delivery protocols. 

Significant disruptive events often galvanize the creation of new products and services. As a result recent constraints and the need for contactless deliveries, Mainfreight is investigating quick read (QR) encrypted technologies to provide evidential delivery scanning. More information will be provided by your local representative soon.

We look forward to reconnecting with all our customers, and providing assistance with building a safe and effective recovery.

Please contact your local branch for further assistance.

29 April 2020 Update

On Tuesday 28th April 2020, New Zealand commenced operating under COVID-19 Alert Level 3 restrictions. With many businesses still unable to open, or only partially resuming trade, freight depots around the country have become congested with freight that is unable to be delivered.

We remind our customers of the need to check first that receivers are open to take delivery, before dispatching freight. Our freight and warehousing network remains fully operational, managing lower volumes with a reduced team until remaining restrictions are removed. In the meantime, we ask our customers to allow additional time for deliveries and order assembly from our warehouses.

On May 11th 2020, Cabinet will meet to reassess the country’s readiness to move from COVID-19 Level 3 restrictions. We expect to transition to full pre-COVID-19 service levels at the commencement of Alert Level 2, once delivery backlogs are cleared. This will see us resume normal deliveries to residential addresses (including inside placement, installation and collections), and our depots will reopen to allow customer collection and drop-off services. All safety protocols will remain in place, in line with Government guidelines.

Recent media commentary has reported significantly reduced demand for fuel, resulting from COVID-19 restrictions in place around the world, with some USA companies paying others to store crude oil, and driving prices to historic lows. Global crude oil pricing remains volatile as OPEC members disagree on oil production levels leading to oversupply.

In New Zealand, we have also seen price reductions at the pump in recent times, allowing us to reduce the current fuel adjustment factor (FAF) for customers accordingly. New Zealand’s fuel pricing is affected by unique market factors including regional and central Government taxes. We expect fuel pricing to continue to fluctuate as countries exit COVID-19 restrictions around the world..

Please contact your local branch for further assistance.

21 April 2020 Update

On Monday 20th April, the Government announced that New Zealand will move from COVID-19 Alert Level 4 to Level 3 on Monday 27th April at 11.59pm. The elimination of COVID-19 remains at the forefront of this decision and future considerations. The country will hold at Alert Level 3 for two weeks, and this will be reassessed by Cabinet on Monday 11th May.

Mainfreight will maintain all appropriate safety protocols in Alert Level 3, including contactless interface at pick-up and delivery, to ensure our customers and team members remain safe.

The Government’s guidance for Alert Level 3 has stipulated that retail and hospitality businesses can only open for delivery and contactless pre-ordered pick up. Customers cannot enter a business's premises unless it is a supermarket, dairy, petrol station, pharmacy or permitted health service.

Mainfreight continues to maintain its full network of services throughout New Zealand. We do ask customers to make allowance for extended transit times during this period, as lower volumes result in reduced run frequency.

We have expanded our capacity to service an increase in home deliveries under Alert Level 3, in line with the Government allowing additional categories of business to operate. The specialist nature of a home delivery requires broader delivery-time tolerances, due to increased customer requirements. We also note, for clarity, the Government reference to home installation only applies to certified tradespeople, and is not extended to transport service providers, in the interests of preserving the safety of residential bubbles.

Many of our customers have already taken advantage of our import services, to avoid high container detention and demurrage costs, by gaining access to essential and non-essential stock for re-distribution, short or longer-term storage solutions utilizing the group’s facilities around the country.

We wish to thank our customers for their ongoing support as our team works tirelessly to navigate the disruptions imposed by COVID-19. Further updates will be provided in the event of any clarification or expansion to the Government’s COVID-19 policy.

Please contact your local branch for further assistance.

17th April 2020 Update

Last night we welcomed details released by the Ministry of Transport allowing an extension to the freight movements that are permitted under COVID-19 Alert Level 4 restrictions.

To support the movement of essential freight, non-essential freight that is already in the transport system can now be distributed and received, including de-vanning and delivery to businesses and customers. All freight can also enter and leave the country. The intention of the refinement is to clear the system so essential freight can move as freely as possible.

This does not change the restrictions on non-essential businesses, who remain unable to trade under Alert Level 4, except to receive goods.

Mainfreight’s network of MPI-approved facilities throughout New Zealand remains open to serve customers requiring assistance, including Customs clearance, wharf cartage, container unpack, and full warehousing services. With port operations around the country stretched due to a backlog of imports, we expect there will be delays gaining access to containers.

The Government is aware that movement of non-essential freight will require some additional people movement during Alert Level 4. All businesses and operators will be expected to operate within the Alert Level 4 workplace health and safety requirements, and are required to maintain strict contactless interaction while performing freight tasks.

The Ministry emphasises that any additional workers, for example those customers coming into warehouses to receive or de-van goods, may need a letter or other form of authorisation from their employer to identify them for the purposes of this work.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern provided early insight yesterday into the restrictions that will be in place under COVID-19 Alert Level 3. We expect an announcement on Monday 20 April following Cabinet’s deliberations, as to when the country will move to Alert Level 3.

In essence, Level 3 introduces opportunity to open new services for essential and non-essential freight to homes and business. As supporting detail is released over coming days we will provide further commentary to assist our customers with their planning requirements.

Our teams welcome early enquiry as we pre-empt expansion of services to residual and business addresses.

Please contact your local branch for further assistance.

2 April 2020 Update

Mainfreight is one of the businesses designated as essential and currently operating.

As we move essential products to support New Zealand under COVID-19 Alert Level 4, we are acutely aware of the unfolding congestion issue impacting our ports around the country – impeding access to supplies, and hampering our export community who need empty containers.

Today our teams are clearing the decks in our branches around the country that hold appropriate Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) licences, to assist unloading containers prioritising essential then non-essential goods.

These services extend to full Customs clearance, wharf cartage, devanning, de-hire, storage (covered and outside options), and New Zealand-wide delivery. We can also offer Air & Ocean freight solutions globally, where we engage our teams on the ground operating across numerous continents.

This opportunity extends beyond the main centres into regional ports. A list of our network with approved facilities is provided below, all ready to play our part in alleviating some of the bottlenecks that are arising and avoiding escalating costs of demurrage and detention during COVID-19 Alert Level 4.

Please reach out to us – we are passionate Kiwis and keen to see how we can help:

Whangarei Chris Carmichael  027 809 2025
Auckland (10 sites) Hayden Young 027 492 8657
Hamilton & Tauranga Sarah Bennison 027 702 3759
Napier & New Plymouth  Matt Dalton 027 704 6160
Wellington Matt Dalton 027 704 6160
Nelson & Malborough Alicia Coles 027 500 6339
Christchurch (3 sites) Alicia Coles 027 500 6339
Timaru Leon Pirake 027 242 4256
Dunedin & Invercargill Alicia Coles 027 500 6339

31 March 2020 Update

Last night we received further instruction from the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) modifying the parameters for items allowed to be purchased online for residential delivery during COVID-19 Level 4. The previous classification (referred to as the Necessities of Life), included food, beverages, toiletries, and health and sanitary products. This has now been extended and refers to essential item classification, as detailed below:

Businesses can now sell on-line essential non-food consumer products, but they must do so in a way that protects the public and minimises the risk of COVID-19 spreading. They must notify MBIE and they must take all appropriate public health measures.

Essential products cover only those products that keep people warm, replace key household appliances, and maintain people’s health. They may include, for example, blankets, heaters, kitchenware and appliances, whiteware, computer equipment, and mobile phones.

Businesses providing essential non-food consumer products must take on-line or phone orders only and deliver the orders in a contactless way. Storefronts must not be open, and the public should not be able to visit stores to select or collect goods.

As a result, Mainfreight will extend residential delivery services to cater for these requirements with immediate effect. Our teams respect residential addresses as safe sanctuaries for the preservation of life, and our existing safety protocols protecting our team and each other will be maintained.

Contactless Deliveries

  • Always maintain 3 metre distancing
  • No signature required on delivery in the event a receiver is unable to sign a delivery receipt outside the 3-metre safety zone, and with their own pen.
  • In the event of ‘no signature’ our drivers will request the receiver’s full name for identification.
  • Please provide a contact name and phone number to assist all deliveries.

Regretfully, we are unable to provide collections from residential addresses (including home businesses).

In the event of a special request, please notify your account manager or local branch for further assistance.

Business to business collections and deliveries require the same safety protocols for all services as well as additional assistance in ensuring that all freight collected can be delivered.

Delivery transit times continue to extend, as the full impact of COVID-19 Level 4 restriction impacts volumes. Our teams are focused on providing full network services and wish to convey their appreciation for your continued support as they navigate this unprecedented event.

If you have any questions or require further information please contact your account manager or local branch.

27th March 2020 - Global Update

As we move into the first weekend in New Zealand under Alert Level 4 of the Government's COVID–19 measures, we continue to work with our customers globally to confirm their ability to send or receive cargo in the coming weeks.

At this stage, all Mainfreight branches globally continue to be open and operational as Government–approved essential international air & sea freight, transport and warehousing services.

At the time of writing, borders internationally remain open for trade. As impacted communities adjust to further social restrictions, our Mainfreight teams have been able to operate effectively in this dynamic environment and have provided insight through our presence in markets across Europe, the Americas, Asia and Australasia.

New Zealand

The pressure on Air freight capacity has intensified along with demand for both import and export space towards the end of this week. Flight schedules have again been reduced on many lanes globally, including New Zealand with Cathay Pacific suspending New Zealand flights with immediate effect.

As highlighted in our previous update, there are a number of initiatives in development which will provide both short and medium-term support for air freight users into and out of New Zealand.

Mainfreight continues to be engaged with a number of parties, as well as our global partner air lines. We are hopeful of being in a position to provide more detail in the coming days.

If you have an immediate air freight requirement, there are still limited services operating, so please get in touch with your local Mainfreight Air & Ocean team.

In regards to Sea freight, we have seen several developments towards the end of this week, with blank sailings starting to emerge as demand becomes uncertain.

We continue to work through shipments in transit that have been impacted, with those customers involved. Import deliveries and export collections continue to be completed where the collection or receiving address is accessible.

Mainfreight can offer container unpack services through our CFS operations in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, and in most of our other 11 locations around New Zealand. We also have storage available in a number of locations.

As communicated earlier this week, we have confirmation that Centreport in Wellington and the Port of Tauranga/Metroport, have indicated concessions on demurrage charges for containers unable to be uplifted within free time.

The Ports of Auckland have encouraged the timely clearance of all containers off port in order to avoid congestion, whilst announcing this afternoon a reduced daily demurrage fee of $70.00 per TEU, for the coming month.

The other New Zealand Ports have not offered any change to previous demurrage charging structures, or are yet to confirm.

Among the shipping lines servicing New Zealand, Maersk and PIL have confirmed extended detention–free on all containers impacted by the COVID–19 measures in April.

For Mainfreight Group LCL customers, we will minimise the costs associated with storage post arrival, through our network of warehouses in Auckland and Christchurch. Please talk to us about your specific requirements.


Our teams in Mainfreight Transport, Air & Ocean, and our Warehousing branches across Australia remain operational. Recently announced state restrictions have resulted in a gradual closure of retail outlets and some businesses.

Mainfreight's interstate and local vehicles continue to make pick–ups and deliveries, with our team following all the recommended guidelines to ensure they, and our customers, remain protected, healthy and safe.


Our Mainfreight offices across China report that business has continued to return to normal.

The challenges around air freight in and out of China however continue, as the government has tightened border restrictions further in the last 24 hours to protect against imported COVID–19 infections.

Inbound airline schedules have again become changeable as airlines react to the new restrictions.
Cargo–only services are not impacted. Capacity is increasing, however rate levels to secure space remain volatile.

The Mainfreight Asia teams in Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and South Korea all advise that they remain operational and open as normal. Mainfreight Malaysia has advised that their government has introduced similar social and business operating restrictions as those currently in place in New Zealand.

In India, both the national border, and those between states, is closed. Trade has effectively halted as ports, airports, Government border agencies, and transport providers are included in the lockdown.


The Mainfreight Russia team has advised the country will commence lock down, with similar restrictions to those we see in other parts of Europe. We are expecting more detail on this over the weekend.

At this stage our understanding is that ports and airports will remain operational and our teams will also be available and able to work remotely.

Our Mainfreight teams throughout the rest of Europe continue to manage freight movements consistent with local Government guidance. The majority of businesses are open and operational, although the number of those working remotely is increasing.

Our European road transport teams continue to operate with only minor delays at road borders.

North America

Whilst "shelter in place" orders are coming into effect across more states in the USA, they have not impacted upon the movement of freight in any state as yet. Across Northern and Southern America, Mainfreight branches and depots are open and continue to service our customers, although we are seeing more businesses entering into lockdown in some states, making delivery planning important.

At this point, as an essential services provider, we have seen no disruption in the delivery to our Transport, Warehousing or Air & Ocean forwarding operations.

The emergence of passenger airlines repurposing aircraft to move cargo only is prevalent in the USA. While air cargo rates remain volatile, the Mainfreight team's daily allocation through blocked space agreements do provide some protection.

For ocean freight, our USA teams report business as usual with volumes starting to pick up with the Chinese factories coming back online.

In Canada, the Mainfreight team in Toronto tell us the situation remains the same as previously updated, with the border closed to all but essential industry. Cargo remains free to move north and south across the border.

In Mexico, our two branches continue to see borders with the USA remain open, although much like Europe there are some delays in crossing with health checks and delays in customs clearance.

Mainfreight Santiago in Chile reports that the local stay–at–home orders are being enforced. Our offices are considered essential providers and remain open.

The escalation of social measures has continued in most parts of the world as governments introduce increased border and social regulation to protect their populations.

We also see an appreciation from central Governments around the world for the place that the secure movement of cargo has in supporting communities and business, particularly in New Zealand, and remain hopeful that the unencumbered flow of cargo will continue to be supported.

Air freight in the short term remains constrained. Our Mainfreight teams on the ground globally are delivering air cargo solutions as the situation provides opportunity to do so. We expect capacity to stabilise as freighter services come on stream and demand drops with local retail restrictions.

Please keep working with your local Mainfreight team to manage freight already in motion. As outlined earlier we have available infrastructure and team to assist through this period.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact your local Mainfreight Air & Ocean team.

26th March 2020 Update

The Government has provided further clarity pertaining to the movement of freight whilst we are at CoVID-19 alert level four.

It is our understanding home-based consumers fundamentally will only be able to shop online for essential goods such as food, beverages, toiletries, and health and sanitation products, referred to as “necessities of life” during the lock down period.

Government will further deter any companies or parties who attempt to enact or offer home services outside the “necessity of life” principles.

As a result, and with immediate effect, Mainfreight will only service residential homes with shipments of “necessity of life” products classified by Government agencies.

We will continue to respect safe havens of isolation (bubbles), mitigating risk in the preservation of life, as outlined in recent Government communications. Equally we are unable to uplift any goods from a business operating from a residential address.

If further definition of “necessities of life” products are required we recommend our customers reach out to appropriate Government agencies or websites for validation.

Due to CoVID-19 alert level four and our reduced freight volumes, Mainfreight’s services to certain destinations, primarily regional New Zealand and inter-island, will see a measurable extension in transit times as our team navigate closures and fallen demand whilst maintaining safety protocols.

Our objective within a fluid environment is to maintain services where able with best endeavors. We ask that we are not presented with any freight unless there is a high certainty that we can deliver. Where able we kindly ask that we are provided with a receiver name and phone number on each consignment to assist with delivery.

As an essential service we cannot expose our team to unnecessary risk that may compromise supply lines critical to supporting continuity of other essential services in the best interests of all New Zealanders.

Contactless safety protocols

  • Always maintain 3-metre social distancing
  • No signature required on delivery in the event a receiver is unable to sign a delivery receipt outside the 3-metre zone, and with their own pen
  • In the event of “no signature”, our drivers will request the receiver’s full name

We thank our customers who continue to help promote the safety of our team and each other in these challenging times.

Equally we extend our gratitude and admiration to many New Zealanders providing essential front-line duties.

If you have any questions or require further information please contact your account manager or local branch.

23rd March 2020 Update

As the impacts of COVID-19 unfold we will continue to provide concise information to assist your ability to make informed decisions.

The New Zealand Government today announced an Alert Level 3 status, moving to Level 4 in 48 hours (Wednesday 25th March), closing schools and non-essential business.

Mainfreight understands its role as an identified essential service to maintain supply lines, a message repeated by governments around the world as they look to keep borders and domestic channels open for freight.

It is expected that a degree of disruption will emerge in the next 48 hours, as business volumes alters and service requirements change. KiwiRail’s recent announcement outlining a reduction in passenger sailings across the Cook Straight and a stand-down of selected rail services, is an early indication that supply chains are going to require adjustment as demand and expectation alters.

Currently our focus is to maintain services to all destinations as volume and restrictions allow. Strategically it is imperative that our customers make provision for extra day transits ahead of time as the full impact of the situation emerges in coming days.

Further communication will be provided as information comes to hand.

If you have any questions regarding this collection and delivery protocol, please contact your account manager or local branch.