General overview

There is significant disruption to business across North America from the impact of COVID-19. United States Federal Reserve Chair Jerome H. Powell said "the virus presents significant economic challenges" as workers are forced to quarantine themselves to mitigate the spread of disease across the US and Canada.

Most – if not all – major trade shows and events in the US and Canada have been postponed or cancelled until the end of April 2020.

This page is regularly updated as information becomes available. Key updates are in bold.

As of 20 March 2020, all travellers returning to New Zealand are subject to a mandatory 14-day self-isolation period and must register with Healthline via 0800 358 5453.

United States

California, New York Illinois, Connecticut, New Jersey, Ohio, Delaware, Louisiana, and Massachusetts have issued state-wide "stay at home" orders, as have several cities in the US, including Philadelphia. The federal government has discouraged gatherings of 10 or more. Millions of elementary schools, high schools and universities have sent students home or shut down.

Federal response

The Senate has reached an agreement in principle for a US$2 trillion rescue package agreement with the White House. There will be some details to agree before it is passed through the House and Senate. It will be the largest economic stimulus measure in modern history when it is passed. The deal includes US$1,200 for most American adults, US$367 billion in loans for small business, US$130 billion for hospitals, and a US$500 billion loan program for corporations, states, and local governments.

"US President Donald Trump has expressed his desire to ease nationwide social distancing guidelines, outlined under the White House's ongoing "15-Day Plan," by Easter, which falls on April 12. Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, commented that the situation will continue to be evaluated daily, and a decision will be made regarding the future of national social distancing policies based on the available evidence and trends. Recommended measures may also differ at the state level." - John Hopkins Center for Health Security

Useful links:

State level business relief and support

Relief and support of business in the States can take many forms. The initial form of relief is typically associated with the payment and processing of taxes (sales, use, payroll, property, etc.) and usually occurs at the state level.

Below are links to some key state and city-level COVID-19 business relief information. NZTE will be updating these on a regular basis with additional locations and details.

State of California

Here is a link to each State's Governor websites. Specific updates will be posted here as they become available:

Freight and Logistics - Current US Situation

Currently, there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with imported goods. As such there is no change to the regulatory settings for trade with the US or Canada, and no additional sanitary or phytosanitary requirements are required by the US or Canadian governments on market access for primary sector products exports and imports.

Cargo movement is not restricted under the recent US travel restrictions or in Canada, and ocean freight cargo is still moving freely. However, the reduction of passenger flights by airlines (which handle 50 percent of all airfreight) will have a significant impact.

Ports are deemed essential services by US government and are continuing cargo operations. Although they are exempt from stay at home orders, some ports have been reducing on-site staffing and closing administration or non-essential buildings.

Marine Vessels

Ocean going vessels are still coming in, and container ports are open. A large drop in cargo from China has caused some port capacity closure due to drop in demand. However, long-term contracts for shipping are being honored and prices seem to be remaining stable. a surge in demand in the coming weeks is expected as a backlog of Chinese shipments begins to come back online.

Many ports are comprised of private transportation companies, so there may be some individual changes in operations for some companies.

For example, while the Seattle Port remains open, some of the cargo terminals closed because of a reduction in import activity.

Similarly, the Port of LA, though their port remains open and operational, has reported a drop of 22.9% in volume in February as compared to 2019 and is projecting that trend to continue in March.

Air Cargo

Although air cargo shipments are still coming in, overall air cargo capacity has tightened, and rates have increased dramatically due to the loss of "belly" cargo normally carried on passenger flights. Some carriers such as United and American Airlines are looking at repurposing grounded passenger planes for cargo charters.


Trucking or road-going freight available capacity has dropped sharply due to domestic demand of consumer goods and increase of online ordering.

Exporters should maintain close contact with their preferred freight forwarders and shipping lines, who will be providing regular updates. For updates on the overall impacts to shipping and logistics please see the sites below:


On 17 March 2020, Canada announced the closure of its borders to all travellers except for Canadian citizens, permanent residents and US citizens. Temporary foreign workers, foreigners with work visas, and foreign students will be allowed to return to Canada despite the ongoing border restrictions.

To help overseas Canadians return home, the government is creating a special financial assistance programme – the COVID-19 Emergency Loan Programme. Canadians abroad directly impacted by COVID-19 will have the option of applying for an emergency loan of up to CAD$5,000 to help secure their return to Canada and to temporarily cover their needs while they work towards their return. Details for this programme will be finalised in the coming days.

Prime Minister Trudeau has urged Canadians to "go home and stay home". The provinces of Quebec and Ontario announced the closure of all non-essential stores and services from Tuesday 24 March at 11:59pm. The Northwest Territories have also closed borders to all travel (including domestic travel).

Canada's Central Bank has reduced its rates. Last week, Parliament suspended sitting for five weeks and the Liberals rolled out a CAD$1 billion health and economic response package, as well as an additional CAD$10 billion for businesses who are being impacted by the virus and consumers' changing habits.

Air Canada and Air New Zealand direct flights between Vancouver and Auckland will end this week, with the final flight scheduled for 29 March.

Useful links:

  • Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Government of Canada official homepage, with situation updates, travel advice and information on Canada's response to COVID-19

On the ground: hearing from our team

Hear from some of NZTE's US and Canada teams on what they are seeing and hearing on the ground, and what New Zealand exporters should consider when connecting with their US partners and customers.


NZTE North America Business Development Manager, Albert Costilo, shares the latest on-the-ground insights and advice for New Zealand Manufacturing Tech Sector exporters in response to Covid-19.


NZTE North America Business Development Manager, Rod McDonald, shares the latest on-the-ground insights and advice from Canada for New Zealand exporters in response to Covid-19.


NZTE North America Business Development Manager, Brona Cosgrave, shares the latest on-the-ground insights and advice for New Zealand Food and Beverage exporters in response to Covid-19.

Additional resources

Below you can find information and contact details for other New Zealand government and international agencies regarding their response to COVID-19.

New Zealand Government agencies
New Zealand Customs
Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI)
MFAT Export helpline
MFAT Safetravel
Ministry of Health

Global agencies

World health organisation (WHO)
Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Contact NZTE

We're available to talk to you about any issues your export business is facing due to COVID-19.

For existing NZTE customers, please contact your New Zealand-based Customer Manager.

If you're unsure who to contact or haven't worked with us before, you can call NZTE on 0800 555 888 or email below and one of our Customer Advisors will help you.