Monday, 16th March, 2020

COVID-19 Business Emergency Response

The recent announcements of self-isolation requirements for inbound visitors/residents and the COVID-19 case in Queenstown have meant that this has become a very real, business, emergency for our members.   

Alongside the business response, there is a well-organised and planned, health response. This is led by Southern DHB, with support from a range of agencies including QLDC.  

The Chamber is working with all key agencies, including the economic development team at QLDC, to get together a COVID-19 business leadership response team yesterday (Sunday). We will be meeting today to identify the key business issues and priorities so that we are in good position to represent your interests nationally and locally.

We are waiting now to hear, hopefully Tuesday, on what government assistance will be available to employers and employees and will be doing everything we can to ensure that you have good information about how to access this assistance.

I have written today to the regional representatives for the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) and Immigration New Zealand (INZ) requesting that their capacity in Queenstown is lifted immediately to cope with the predicted lift in demand and to seek support for employees on Working Holiday and Essential Skills Visas who do not have access to the social benefits enjoyed by New Zealanders. We also would like to see the two week stand down for job seekers allowance removed. 

The mayor, Jim Boult, with support from the Chamber and other key agencies has written late last week to the Ministers of Immigration, Tourism and Regional Development (and officials) requesting that an urgent review of the conditions for Essential Skills Visas is undertaken (given the disruption) and calling for improved information on the Immigration New Zealand website.  I would like to thank the Chamber members who contributed to this document. Your expert contribution made it a very strong request.

I have also spoken today with Andrew Wilson from the Salvation Army about the forecast increased demand for food and other services from people who do not have enough work. We will also be seeking additional government support for these community support agencies as the demand for their services are increased. They are very appreciative of any assistance that you may be to offer in the meantime. 

Thank you very much to the members who have offered their help today.  Your support of your Chamber and fellow members is important at times like this. If your business is not affected by COVID-19 and you wish to assist another member respond to this challenge, please drop me a line outlining your skills. 

Once again, if you need assistance or are finding it difficult to cope, please call me and I am always happy to talk over your options with you.

Anna Mickell
Chamber CEO


Help available 

  • Your accountant. 
  • Your commercial banking relationship manager - OCR now 0.25% - interest rates will drop.
  • The government will shortly increase their business training and consultancy assistance available through the Regional Business Partner programme nationally. More details will be announced shortly, however registering with this programme now, if you are in need of help, is recommended. There is no cost to this, just call Tara Druce on 021 216 6543 or register on
  • Connect a Business Mentor. We have a talented pool of mentors operating in the Otago Region and we can match you with the right mentor to support you one on one. If you are interested in this support please contact Cara Bradley on 027 253 8137 or email