The Wage Subsidy, as well as a new one-off payment, will be made available to eligible businesses if New Zealand has to move up Covid-19 alert levels.
The Government will from next year also start paying businesses $350 per employee who needs to stay home while they await a Covid-19 test result.
Finance Minister Grant Robertson made the announcement as Minister for Covid-19 Response Chris Hipkins outlined what would happen over summer if Covid-19 is found in the community.
- Wage Subsidy
In the event of a move to Levels 3 or 4 for seven days or more, the Wage Subsidy will be available for the duration of the lockdown.
The value of the subsidy will remain the same ($585.80 per week for a full-timer and $350 for a part-timer) but rather than businesses showing a 40% decline in revenue compared to the previous year, they’ll have to show a 40% decline compared to the six weeks prior to the alert level change.
Support will be provided in two-weekly payments and total support will match the duration at Alert Level 3 or 4 rounded to the nearest fortnight.
- Resurgence Support Payment
In the event of a move to Levels 2, 3 or 4 for seven days or more, a new one-off Resurgence Support Payment.
Businesses that incur a revenue drop of 30% or more over a 14-day period, due to a change in alert levels, will be able to receive up to $21,500 depending on how many employees they have.
Businesses will get $1500 plus $400 for every full-time employee up to 50 employees.
- Short-term Absence Payment
The second new offering is a Short-term Absence Payment of $350 available to firms if their workers need to stay home while awaiting a Covid-19 test result.
It is also available to eligible self-employed workers, and to parents or caregivers of dependents who are required to stay at home awaiting a test result where they need support to do so.
The payment will be available from early 2021.
If a worker needs to self-isolate following a positive test result, they then may also be eligible for the existing two week Leave Support Scheme.
For more on all three of these schemes, see this government fact sheet.
Summer holiday message: Prepare for plans to change
Turning now to what would happen if Covid-19 was found in the community over the summer holidays, Hipkins warned people might be asked to stay put regardless of where they are.
If Covid-19 is found within a campsite or festival, people in that area would need to stay where they are, in their bubble, initially until the situation is assessed.
Thereafter, in a worst-case scenario, if it became clear there was a high risk of widespread transmission, people would likely be asked to return home.
Consideration would be given to moving New Zealand (or large parts of it) to Level 3 and requiring people to go home, and not travel once home, to limit the risk of transmission.
All this said, Hipkins noted the specific response to an outbreak would depend on the situation and public health advice.
He asked people to make individual plans around what they would do if they have to stay put at their holiday destination or quickly return home.
He suggested ensuring people have access to extra supplies, like face coverings, soap, hand sanitiser, food and medication was important.
Furthermore, the basics are essential - using the Covid-19 tracer app and activating the Bluetooth function, hand-washing, and staying home when even a little bit sick and seeking advice on whether a Covid-19 test is necessary.
Here's a government infographic on what would happen during three scenarios:
For more information see this government fact sheet.