Friday, 20th August, 2021

Dear Member,

Please see below key COVID-19 updates. The next COVID-19 update from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield has been moved to 3pm today.  

Information For Businesses

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment is the central resource for COVID-19 business information with updates about COVID-19 and guidance to help businesses. Click here to find information about:

  • operating at Alert Levels
  • business travel across regional boundaries
  • contact tracing
  • financial support for businesses
  • employment and work visas
  • leases and tenancies
  • exporters and importers
  • working from home.

Please refer to the Ministry of Health for health-related information and covid19.govt.nz for all other information from government.

COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)(external link) — Ministry of Health

Unite Against COVID-19(external link) — covid19.govt.nz

COVID-19 Wage Subsidy August 2021

This information is a guide only. The Wage Subsidy declaration on the Work and Income website has full details of eligibility criteria and obligations, and prevails over any other information.

  • The COVID-19 Wage Subsidy 2021 is open for applications for two weeks from today.
  • Applications can be made through the Work and Income website, https://www.workandincome.govt.nz/covid-19/wage-subsidy/index.html
  • The subsidy is for two weeks, and the payment rate is $600 a week (full time) and $359.00 a week (part-time).
  • To ensure applications get processed as quickly as possible, it’s important the information provided matches what is held by Inland Revenue (eg IR number, company name, bank account, employee details including name and IR number).
  • Applicants should check they’re applying for the correct payment. Some businesses apply for the Leave Support Scheme or the Short Term Absence Payment, when they meant to apply for the COVID-19 Wage Subsidy August 2021. (Businesses can only receive one of these three COVID-19 payments for the same employee at the same time.)

 Eligibility Criteria

  • The eligibility criteria are similar to the March 2021 scheme, including employer obligations and revenue test.
  • It’s important applicants read all the information, including the declaration they are agreeing to, carefully and make sure they comply.
  • The revenue test is a decrease of at least 40%. This means:
    • Businesses need to have had (or expect to have) a minimum 40% decline in revenue in the 14-days since the Alert Level escalation (ie between 17 – 30 August 2021), when compared with their revenue during a typical 14-day period in the six weeks immediately before the Alert Level escalation.
    • Businesses with highly seasonal revenue can compare their revenue to 17 – 30 August 2020 or 2019, if they can show that the seasonal nature of their business makes it harder for them to meet the revenue test using the default comparison period.
  • The decline in revenue must be caused by the effect of the national wide Alert Level increase on 17 August 2021 on their businesses.

 After the payment is made

  • If the revenue decline doesn’t eventuate the business needs to repay the subsidy.
  • Businesses will need to prepare and keep evidence to support their declaration (but they don’t need to provide this on application)
  • MSD will complete background checks and target integrity activity. This means a sample of applicants will be asked for proof of revenue decline.
  • If the Government decides to extend the wage subsidy, businesses will need to make another application. At this stage the wage subsidy is only for two weeks.

Information on how to apply, full eligibility criteria, payment details, and obligations can be found on the Work and Income website:
https://www.workandincome.govt.nz/covid-19/wage-subsidy/index.html 

COVID-19 Essential Update Webinar (4pm today)

Our friends at BusinessNZ and Otago Chamber of Commerce are hosting a COVID-19 Essential Update Webinar with Hon Grant Robertson today at 4pm. Queenstown Lakes businesses are welcome to link into this free webinar, registration essential.

Speakers:
• Finance Minister Grant Robertson – Financial support schemes available to help businesses and their employees
• Jimi Hunt – Prioritising mental health in uncertain times

Q&A with:
• Paul Mackay - Manager | Employment Relations Policy, Business New Zealand
• Regan Jackson - Regional Labour Market Manager Canterbury, Ministry of Social Development
• Keith S Taylor - RSP Operations Lead | Small & Medium Enterprises, Inland Revenue

Click here to register 

Other COVID-19 Financial Support

You may also be able to get the Resurgence Support Payment from Inland Revenue to help with business costs. 

The Leave Support Scheme and the Short-Term Absence Payment are also available.

Key Things To Note:

  • Whole genome sequencing of the community cases are a close match to a recent returnee from Sydney and provides a strong lead in identifying how the outbreak started.
  • There are eleven new cases of COVID-19 to report for a total of 21 cases in the community.  In addition, there are two historical cases to report yesterday.
  • Testing is key to stopping the virus. If you have visited a location of interest at a relevant time or have cold and flu symptoms.  Please get tested and self-isolate. 
  • Any household contact of a person who has visited a location of interest is required to isolate at home until the person who visited the location of interest has received a negative day 5 test or until after an earlier negative test, if contact between the two people has ceased.
  • Face coverings are now mandatory for all people, employees and customers, at all businesses and services operating at Alert Level 4. 
  • Travellers from Queenstown and those needing to travel via the Cook Strait have been given a 24-hour extension to get home.
  • Wastewater sampling undertaken on 16 and 17 August at Mt Maunganui, Tauranga, Hamilton, Rotorua, Gisborne, Taupō, New Plymouth, Napier, Porirua, Hutt Valley, Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch, Queenstown and Invercargill have all come back negative.
  • Cabinet has now approved the Pfizer vaccine for use for 12 to 15 year olds.
  • The COVID-19 vaccination programme resumed yesterday nationwide, operating under alert level 4 conditions.  More than 2.61 million doses have been administered to date. 

UPDATE FOR QUEENSTOWN: Due to the heavy swabbing load being experienced at the Queenstown Medical Centre (QMC), they are suspending vaccination clinics until next Thursday 26 August. If you have a booking, a cancellation text will be sent to you (the system will also send a reminder to turn up, please ignore this!) Keeping patients and the community as safe as possible is QMC’s priority and mixing the two streams does not allow this. QMC is working with the DHB to continue vaccinating as soon as possible at a separate venue while we are in the lockdown stages. Thanks for everyone’s patience. 

COVID-19 Vaccine Key Messages:

  • The COVID-19 vaccination programme resumed yesterday nationwide, operating under alert level 4 conditions. However, Queenstown Medical Centre is suspending vaccination clinics until next Thursday 26 August. 
  • This will look a bit different - with vaccination sites operating under alert level 4 conditions our capacity will be reduced due to physical distancing requirements and other safety measures.  
  • The reduced capacity means some appointments may need to be postponed. If your appointment needs to be postponed you will be contacted by the Ministry of Health, your DHB or healthcare provider.   
  • If you don’t hear from your health provider, please come to your appointment as scheduled.  
  • From today, as parents or guardians become eligible to book for a vaccination, they can also book in a vaccination for any 12-15-year olds in their whānau. Bookings can be made by visiting BookMyVaccine.nz.
  • Parents and caregivers who already have a booking can take their 12-15 year olds with them. 
  • Young people aged 12–15 years will be able to access the vaccine through a variety of ways most convenient to them and their family/whānau, for example, at:   
    • their general practice or community pharmacy
    • a community vaccination centre, or 
    • at other community-based sites such as faith-based locations or marae. 
  • There is an estimated 265,000 people in the 12 – 15 years age bracket. The Government has ordered more than enough Pfizer vaccines for everyone, including the 12 – 15-year-old age group.  This will make it more convenient for whole families to be vaccinated at the same time. 

Face Coverings and Exemption Cards

While face coverings are now compulsory, some people who have a disability or health condition may not be able to wear a face covering safely or comfortably. People can download a mask exemption form via the COVID-19 website.

This is a high-trust system and we trust people to do the right thing. It is disappointing to hear reports of people misusing the exemption card. Wearing a face covering is about keeping yourself and others safe. You do not need to have an exemption card, but you may feel more comfortable showing something official to confirm you cannot wear a face covering.

More information is available here Wear a face covering | Unite against COVID-19 (covid19.govt.nz)


Have questions or need advice?
COVID-19 business support payments and financial assistance are available - here.

Useful resources for more information
Information on workplace operations at COVID-19 alert levels
COVID-19: Information for businesses
COVID-19 New Zealand Government updates
Work & Income NZ - COVID-19 Support

As we learn more, we will keep you updated. 

Our team are working from home.
You can reach us at admin@queenstownchamber.org.nz or our Regional Business Partners at support@otagorbp.co.nz 

 
Look after yourselves, friends and family, and your team.

Take care,
Ruth