Updates & Articles
Business boost to transition to new COVID-19 framework
The following is a summary of the changes announced by the Government:
- New Zealand will have a new traffic light COVID-19 framework, largely modelled around if a person is vaccinated. This will eventually replace the current alert level system.
- The new framework will be introduced once 90% of eligible people in every DHB gets both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
- The Government has established a $120 million fund to accelerate Māori vaccination rates
- There is further support available for businesses — including an increased resurgence support payment and mental health support for Auckland businesses.
- People on low incomes can get access to extra funds to pay for food and emergencies while COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions continue.
- Auckland will come out of lockdown and go to the new “red” traffic light setting when all three DHBs in the region hit the double-dose 90% milestone, no matter what vaccination rates are outside of the city.
- The South Island’s COVID-19 restrictions may lift before the rest of the country if all DHBs in the South Island hit the 90% vaccination milestone.
Source: Business boost to transition to new COVID framework, Beehive govt website, 22 October 2021, accessed 22 October 2021.
Resurgence (RSP) payments to increase and become fortnightly
The Minister of Finance, the Hon Grant Robertson, has announced that the Government will boost payments to businesses affected by the higher alert levels as the country transitions to the new COVID-19 protection framework.
The next payment, which is available from 29 October 2021 through Inland Revenue’s myIR, will remain at the current rate of $1,500 plus $400 per full-time equivalent (FTE) employee, up to a maximum of 50 FTE.
The enhanced support will first be paid on 12 November 2021 and fortnightly thereafter until Auckland is able to move into the new framework. For the payments starting on 12 November this will be $3,000 per business and $800 per FTE, up to 50 FTEs. This will make the maximum fortnightly payment $43,000.
In effect, this means the RSP will be a weekly rather than 3-weekly payments as it is now, but for ease of application and administration it will be available in fortnightly installments.
Business advice and mental health support
The Government has agreed to make a $60 million package for business advice and mental health support available to help Auckland businesses through the transition period.
Businesses will be able to apply for up to $3,000 worth of advice and planning support and then receive up to $4,000 to implement that advice through the established Regional Business Partners programme. The Regional Business Partners programme is a proven network of experienced advisors who can recommend tailored solutions to the issues faced by business owners.
Hardship assistance extended for low income workers
Income limits for hardship support through the Ministry of Social Development have been temporarily lifted so more people can receive assistance.
The Government is aware that the extended COVID-19 restrictions are having an impact on low income households who tend to have less certainty of work. Currently, a single person working 30 hours per week on the minimum wage is not eligible for hardship assistance from Work and Income. The Government is lifting the income limits for assistance to 40 hours at the minimum wage, or $800 per week and $1,600 per week for a couple with or without children.
The temporary income eligibility criteria comes into force from 1 November 2021 for 4 months. 28 February 2022 will be the last day the increased limits will apply.
New COVID-19 protection framework
High vaccination rates mean New Zealand will soon be able to take a new approach to managing COVID-19 with fewer restrictions and less reliance on lockdowns to stop the spread of the virus.
New Zealand will move to the new COVID-19 protection framework when 90% of the eligible population is fully vaccinated across each District Health Board (DHB).
Auckland will be able to move to the new framework as soon as 90% of the eligible population in each of the city’s three DHBs is fully vaccinated.
The COVID-19 protection framework has 3 levels: Green, Orange and Red. Vaccination certificates will provide greater freedoms at each level, with extra public health precautions built in at higher levels to minimise the impact of COVID-19 and suppress the spread of the virus.
The framework maintains the ability to move up levels when needed to control an outbreak but is more flexible than the current alert level system.
Testing, contact tracing and isolation will continue as key tools to minimise any spread of the virus. Localised lockdowns will still be kept as an option if there is a rapid growth in cases in areas with high levels of unvaccinated people.
For business, the framework provides additional certainty. Businesses previously considered high-risk will be able to fully open to vaccinated customers at both Green and Orange, and continue to operate with some restrictions at Red.