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COVID-19 Group


The COVID-19 Group is responsible for integration of strategy and policy, system readiness and planning, insights and reporting, system risk and assurance, and public engagement and communications. We also deliver a national communications and public engagement campaign — Unite against COVID-19.


Our mission is to mobilise the collective capacity of government to eliminate COVID-19 while sustaining our economy and social cohesion.


On 1 July 2020 the COVID-19 Group was established as a business unit of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC).

The response to COVID-19 has required a significant effort from across government and will continue to require this coordinated approach for some time to come.

The business unit continues the enduring work of the National Crisis Management Centre following the centre's deactivation on 30 June 2020. It is mandated to coordinate, and where necessary lead, the All-of-Government response to the ongoing pandemic.

Structure and leadership

Office of the Deputy Chief Executive

The business unit is led by Cheryl Barnes in her role as Deputy Chief Executive, COVID-19 Group.

The COVID-19 Group consists of four main functions.

Strategy and Policy

This function:

  • provides advice to Ministers regarding COVID-19 response system settings.
  • advises on and drafts Alert Level changes.
  • considers the impact of changes to the system (including settings, virus evolution, external factors etc.)
  • provides support for the COVID-19 Ministerial Group.

System Assurance and Continuous Improvement

This function:

  • provides assurance to Ministers and Chief Executives that the COVID-19 response system settings are working as intended.
  • develops, implements and maintains a system wide risk management framework for the response.
  • identifies areas for improvement across the response system.
  • engages with iwi, community and business regarding the response, bringing a range of perspectives to the Group’s advice.

Systems Readiness and Planning

This function:

  • works across the system to respond to active cases.
  • ensures system readiness to respond to cases or changes in policy settings.
  • develops and tests system-wide scenario-based plans (e.g. for resurgence).

Communications and Public Engagement

This function:

  • develops and delivers public communication messages regarding the COVID-19 response, including the Unite Against COVID-19 campaign.
  • engages with COVID-19 response agencies regarding key messages for the public both nationally and regionally.
Last updated: 
Tuesday, 27 April 2021

Contact us

General enquiries

Contact us by using our online enquiry form

Office of the Chief Executive
Level 8 Executive Wing
Parliament Buildings


(04) 830 5000

Media enquiries

If your query is intended for the Prime Minister’s media staff then you should use and your query will go directly to them.

For all other media queries, please email

See also our Social Media Transparency Statement

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