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Facilitating Day-to-Day Care and Contact Through the Covid-19 Delta Variant Lockdown

Facilitating Day-to-Day Care and Contact Through the Covid-19 Delta Variant Lockdown

Written by:
Alissa Bell

Due to the recent presence of the highly contagious Covid-19 Delta variant within communities throughout New Zealand, the country has been placed into an Alert Level 4 Lockdown. The stringent lockdown restrictions may have implications for parents who have shared care arrangements,  Parenting Orders, or who are involved in Family Court proceedings. This can create an added level of stress and anxiety as parents try to navigate both lockdown rules and day-to-day care of their children.

During New Zealand's first initial Level 4 Lockdown in March 2020, Principal Family Court Judge, Jude Moran published a set of parenting guidelines to assist with this issue. The most important point to remember is that the purpose of this lockdown is to put a stop to the chain of the viruses transmission. Therefore, temporary care arrangements may need to be made for your children which require flexibility and understanding. It is also vital to remember that children are also experiencing disruption and uncertainty in their lives too, therefore it is important for them to experience as much engagement, support and communication from both parents and their wider family groups as much as possible.  

Parents who live in different cities

Shared care and contact arrangements may proceed as long as only two bubbles are involved. There is also the restriction that both parents must live in the same city and/or community. Furthermore, children are not permitted to travel more than an hour between households located within the same city. This means that for parents who live in different cities, face-to-face contact will need to be temporarily ceased and the children must stay in the household in which they began lockdown in. Making these temporary arrangements during Level 4 means further prevention of the virus spreading, along with making the best decision for both your children and the wider public.  

Parents who live in the same city or community

As previously stated, children can move between two bubbles, however there are also restrictions on this. If your child becomes unwell while in one household, they should remain there and contact with the other bubble should not go ahead. Children are not permitted to travel between households when another household member is unwell and contact should resume when they are well again.

The outbreak of the Delta strain has seen a high number of locations of interest, resulting in record numbers of testing in close and casual contacts. If someone in your bubble is self-isolating due to being a close or casual contact or have recently undergone testing due to feeling unwell, then children's travel between bubbles must cease and Ministry of Health advice should be followed. For parents facilitating travel of children, private vehicle is the safest option. However, public transportation does remain available if there is no alternative. Children should be accompanied by an adult when travelling and those aged twelve and over are required to wear a mask. Social distancing and tracer app protocols should be complied with. It is not mandatory to carry a physical or online version of your Parenting Order, however it may prove useful when explaining to police why you are travelling if stopped.

If you and your partner have children from previous relationships, this means that three or more households may be involved in care arrangements. At Alert Level 4, only two bubbles may merge as part of a shared bubble arrangement. This means that alternative care arrangements may need to be made if your care arrangement links more households than permitted.

If face-to-face contact is not available

If face-to-face contact is not available, the Court expects that parents should make every effort to facilitate contact through Zoom meetings, Skype, FaceTime or social media messaging. Parents should take a children centred approach by facilitating online contact which is flexible, consistent and generous. A unilateral change and restriction to online contact will be seen as a hindrance to the children's best interest and may cause them added disruption.

Family Court Proceedings and services

Under Alert Level 4, the Family Court will not be conducting any face-to-face hearings or conferences. However, urgent family safety matters, filing documentation and Family Dispute Resolution services are still available via online platforms.  

How we can help

We remain open during lockdown via online platforms to assist you on any family matters you may have. Please contact family law partner, Alissa Bell at

See our Expertise pages

Care of Children

Family Law

Family Matters

© McVeagh Fleming 2021

This article is published for general information purposes only.  Legal content in this article is necessarily of a general nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice.  If you require specific legal advice in respect of any legal issue, you should always engage a lawyer to provide that advice.

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