Significant Government support for businesses and workers has been triggered following a rise in alert levels to combat COVID-19 in the community.
The Government decided to move to Alert Level 4 for Auckland and the Coromandel Peninsula starting at 11.59pm on Tuesday for seven days, as a result of a new case in the community in Auckland.
The rest of New Zealand was placed at Alert Level 4 for three days, with the imminent likelihood of an extension to these lockdown timeframes.
On Friday, the Alert Level 4 lockdown was extended for all of New Zealand until 11:59pm on August 24.
Finance Minister Hon Grant Robertson says he and Minister for Social Development and Employment Hon Carmel Sepuloni swiftly activated a number of support measures to provide certainty to businesses and workers.
“It will ensure we get money out the door quickly to protect jobs and keep firms’ operating,” Minister Robertson says.
Measures being taken include the Wage Subsidy Scheme (WSS), which is available nationally when there is a regional or national move to Alert Levels 3 and 4 for a period of seven days.
It helps eligible businesses keep paying staff and protect jobs - 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.
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.
Minister Robertson says 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.”
A strong public health response has given us a strong economic response and put economic activity back to pre-COVID levels, and our response will continue to be based on those principles, he adds.