Welcome back to our Weekly Digest. Read on for the latest updates and some ideas to help us all move forward.
Children 5 to 11 Years Old May Get Vaccinated From January
Children aged 5 to 11 may get vaccinated from the end of January 2022, pending MedSafe approval. The government has already secured enough Pfizer vaccine doses to start vaccinating children from early next year.
Currently, around 93% of eligible New Zealanders have had at least a single dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Auckland Recovery Fund
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has unveiled a $37.5 million recovery fund for Auckland.
The fund is intended to revive economic, social and cultural activities across the city over summer. The first initiative, called “Explore Tāmaki Makaurau this summer”, will provide 100,000 vouchers to attractions and discounts to council facilities to encourage whānau to visit Auckland attractions.
The package included a $10 million contestable fund for free summer events.
Business Confidence Eases in November
Business sentiment fell in November due to high cost and inflation pressures, according to the latest ANZ Bank survey.
The survey’s headline measure showed a net 16.4% of respondents expected the economy to deteriorate over the year ahead, up from 13.4% pessimism level in October. Also, a net 15% of respondents expected their business to grow in the next 12 months– an improvement from 21.7% last month.
Government to Ease COVID Measures Despite Omicron Threat
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that the country will move into a system of living with COVID-19 later this week despite the emergence of the new Omicron variant.
New Zealand will continue to keep borders closed to most international travelers for a further five months. New border measures for travelers from nine southern African nations have also been put in place, announcing that only citizens from these countries can enter New Zealand and will have to stay in state quarantine for 14 days.
How to Get ‘My Vaccine Pass’
The government has launched its vaccine pass or certificates, which allows New Zealanders to download proof that they are fully vaccinated.
The “My Vaccine Pass” will take the form of a QR code that can be shown digitally or on printed paper, allowing venues to check whether a person has been vaccinated or not.
For those without a smartphone or access to a computer, you may call 0800 222 478 to request a My Vaccine Pass.
Events Transition Support Scheme Launched
The Events Transition Support Scheme has been opened from this week which will cover 90% of unrecoverable costs for major events cancelled or postponed due to the pandemic. It will apply to live, in-person paid events with over 5,000 attendees from 17 December until 3 April 2022.
Support available to you
Work and Income has a Find COVID-19 Support tool to help you find the support options you’re eligible for.
Wage Subsidy August 2021 #8
Applications for Wage Subsidy August 2021 #8 are open until 9 December 2021. The Wage Subsidy payments support employers to continue to pay employees and protect jobs for businesses affected by a change in COVID-19 alert levels.
Support for Businesses to Transition to Traffic Light System
A payment of up to $24,000 would be available to businesses as they moved into the new traffic light system for managing the pandemic. This one-off transition payment would be activated through the Resurgence Support Payment system and would be available on 10 December.
The payment is at a higher base rate than the current RSP and will be $4,000 per business, plus $400 per full-time employee up to a cap of 50 FTEs. The estimated total cost of the payment is between $350 million and $490 million.
Small Business Cashflow Loan Scheme
If you employ 50 or fewer staff, you may be able to apply for the Small Business Cashflow Loan Scheme. This is a one-off 5 year loan where you can borrow a maximum of $10,000 plus $1,800 per full-time-equivalent employee within your business.
- When applying for the loan, you need to be able to declare that your business is viable.
- Your business must have experienced a minimum 30% decline in actual or predicted revenue over the period of a month, compared with the same month last year.
- Applications are open until 31 December 2023 through myIR. If your business does not have a myIR account, you will need to create one to apply.
Loans will be interest free if they are paid back within 2 years. The interest rate is 3% for a maximum term of 5 years.
COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme
If an employee cannot work from home while self-isolating, you may be able to apply for financial support so they can continue to get paid.
The Leave Support Scheme is paid as a 2 week lump sum at the rate of:
- $600 a week for full-time employees
- $359 a week for part-time employees
You cannot get the Wage Subsidy August 2021, Leave Support Scheme and Short-Term Absence Payment for the same employee at the same time.
COVID-19 Short-Term Absence Payment
The Short-Term Absence Payment is available for businesses, including self-employed people, to help pay employees who cannot work from home while they wait at home for a COVID-19 test result. This is a one-off payment of $350. You can find the details here.
New Tool for Businesses
Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Wood today announced a new tool to help businesses assess whether they should be requiring workers to be vaccinated. This assessment tool will be available from mid-December.
When the new traffic light system comes into place from 3 December, it will be a requirement for vaccine passes to be shown for those businesses that opt into it. The tool provides a clear legal framework to help businesses and other employers to decide about vaccinations in the workplace.
Businesses that opt in should use the passes, and those which fail to enforce them will face penalties from $300 to $12,000 for a company, or $15,000 for a court-imposed fine for a company.
Kiwi Business Boost Tool
The Government has funded specialist consultancy support services to provide advice to businesses who need it. You can use the Kiwi Business Boost Tool to find out what services are available in your region.
The Treasury website’s COVID-19 Economic Response Measures can also provide more information on the range of support available to businesses.
Training Incentive Allowance
The Training Incentive Allowance can help with tuition fees, books, childcare, equipment, transport and any additional caring costs while studying. It’s available for courses at levels 1-7 of the NZ Qualifications Framework. Visit the Work and Income website to find out who’s eligible, how much you can get and who can apply.
Get in touch
Contact us if you have any questions or want to discuss the next steps for your business.