Sunday, April 21, 2024

Business support kicks on as NZ goes ‘hard and early’ into lockdown

Government support for businesses and workers has been triggered following a rise in alert levels to combat COVID-19 in the community, Grant Robertson said this evening.

New Zealand will move to Alert Level 4 for three days from 11.59pm tonight – with the exception of Auckland and the Coromandel peninsula, which will likely remain at level 4 for seven days as a result of a new case in the region.

“The Minister for Social Development and Employment Carmel Sepuloni and I have activated a number of business support measures to provide certainty to businesses and workers and ensure we get money out the door quickly to protect jobs and keep firms’ operating,” Minister Robertson said.

The measures include:

  • The Wage Subsidy Scheme (WSS) which is available nationally when there’s a regional or national move to Alert Levels 3 and 4 for a period of seven days and helps eligible businesses keep paying staff and protect jobs. The rates have been raised to reflect increased wage costs.
  • The Resurgence Support Payment (RSP) is a payment to help support businesses or organisations with one-off costs due to a COVID-19 alert level increase to level 2 or higher. This is available to eligible firms at the same time as the WSS.

More details on applying for the WSS will be available soon on the Ministry of Social Development’s website, while information on the RSP can soon be found on Inland Revenue’s website.

Other existing support for individuals includes the Leave Support Scheme (LSS) and Short-Term Absence Payment (STAP) rates will also be increased in line with the WSS, as each of these payments is set at the same rate.

“The Government remains well-placed to respond to COVID-19. We have over $1 billion left over from the money set aside for WSS and RSP and if needed, the COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Fund has around $5 billion in it. Our net debt position is much lower than forecast and well below other countries,” Mr Robertson said.

“A strong public health response has given us a strong economic response and put economic activity back to pre-COVID levels. Our response will continue to be based on those principles.”

NZ Health Chief Executive, Ashley Bloomfield said the confirmed Coromandel COVID-19 case was a 58-year-old man who became symptomatic on Saturday.

The man’s wife has been tested and so far has returned a negative result.

Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern said it was not yet known if the case was the highly infectious Delta variant, which is currently raging through NSW and permeating other States in Australia.

“Going hard and early has worked for us before,” the Prime Minister said of today’s snap lockdown decision.

More information can be found on the COVID-19 website: https://covid19.govt.nz/

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