Consumer NZ is urging businesses to show flexibility over fees for customers who can't use gym memberships, childcare services and long-term car parks while in lockdown.

From midnight tomorrow, New Zealanders will be forced into four weeks of home isolation in a bid to prevent the spread of the deadly Covid-19 virus.

Non-essential businesses and services like gyms, cinemas, restaurants, bars and libraries will shut and domestic travel will be limited.

Schools and early childhood centres will also be closed.


Many Kiwis who have fixed-term contracts such as gym memberships and childcare arrangements are asking whether they will still have to pay while their families endure an enforced period of lockdown.

Consumer NZ head of research Jessica Wilson said if a gym could no longer provide its services to customers because of the virus, it should let anyone on fixed-term contracts put their membership on hold.

"We would also expect consideration for people in financial hardship, including letting them out of contracts entirely."

Customers on these contracts would be covered by both the Consumer Guarantees Act and Fair Trading Act.

If a business refused to budge, customers had the option of taking them to the Disputes Tribunal, Wilson said.

"For any contract where you paid for a service and that service can no longer be provided, the service provider needs to look at providing flexibility for customers and not charging them for a service they cannot provide."

Wilson said Consumer NZ was fielding a significant number of queries from consumers about how the impending lockdown would affect them.

Cancelled flights was a key concern for many people.


Airlines' liability was limited under the Aviation Act for events outside their control.

However some airlines were offering refunds for flights which travellers could no longer use due to the lockdown. Others were offering 12 months credit, so the flights could be reused at some point in the future.

Wilson urged customers to check the terms and conditions on their tickets.

Travel insurance was another concern for many consumers, who had paid for insurance but no longer needed it as they were prevented from travelling.

Again, each case would depend on the terms and conditions of the contract, she said.

"Given the circumstances we would expect travel insurers to be offering flexibility and giving consumers refunds." The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website