Thursday, 3rd February, 2022

COVID-19 – Update 61 – Thursday 3 February 2022

Here’s the latest update from the Southern Lakes Business Response & Recovery team.

The Prime Minister has outlined the next set of 5 stages to get the country back to a ‘new normal’ and reconnecting New Zealand to the rest of the world

This managed and staged approach will ensure the balance of our healthcare system with that of economic needs. It will enable Kiwis to reunite with friends and family, businesses to make overseas trips, address getting critical workers and staff shortages.

We will continue to keep businesses updated as further information comes to hand from the Minister of Immigration and the Minister of Finance. 

THE FIVE STEP PLAN:

  1. From 11.59pm Sunday 27 February, fully vaccinated Kiwis and other currently eligible travellers from Australia will be able to travel to New Zealand, and instead of going into MIQ, will be able to self-isolate.
  2. From 11.59pm Sunday 13 March, fully vaccinated New Zealanders and other currently eligible travellers from the rest of the world will also be able to travel into New Zealand without going through MIQ. There will also be an expanded border exception for critical workers, and skilled workers earning at least 1.5 times the median wage, who will also be eligible to enter New Zealand, along with highly skilled workers' family members who may have been separated from their loved ones. Working Holiday Schemes will also reopen in stages from step 2.
  3. From 11.59pm Tuesday 12 April, border extensions will include a large international student cohort of up to 5,000 students for entry ahead of semester 2 and temporary visa holders who still meet relevant visa requirements.
  4. No later than July, Australians and all other visitors and business travellers who can normally enter New Zealand without a visa can travel here. This stage is likely to begin when we have much larger case numbers than we have now. There is a high likelihood of this date coming forward as we progress through the next stage of the pandemic.
    From July those on the new Accredited Employer Work Visa will open, including for workers offshore. At this point, the critical worker border exception will be removed. The new work visa will be mainly available to workers earning over the median wage as part of the Immigration Rebalance changes.
  5. In October, all other visitors and students who require a visa to enter New Zealand can do so, with normal visa processing resuming.

For detailed information on the 5 Step plan click HERE
 


MIQ AND SELF-ISOLATION:

Self-isolation is only available for fully vaccinated travellers who are eligible to enter New Zealand. 

Travellers will self-isolate for 10 days. If New Zealand’s self-isolation period changes, such as a drop to 7 days, the self-isolation period for travellers will also change. 

Travellers will be provided three rapid antigen tests at the airport, one for use on day 0/1, and one for use on day 5/6, with one extra for backup.

The government expects self-isolation requirements will change over time as Omicron makes its way through the community, so the requirements will be constantly kept under review. It is not clear at this stage how self-isolation will be monitored but there will be fines between $4000 and $12,000 for breaching isolation requirements.

The Defence Force will begin the process of withdrawing from MIQ, with some hotels returning to traditional use to support the return of tourists, but at this point in time, MIQ is expected to be used still for high-risk travellers such as those who are unvaccinated.
 


REMINDERS: 

Covid-19: Financial support for businesses under the red traffic light setting

The Leave Support Scheme is available to employers, including self-employed people, to help pay staff who have been told to self-isolate because of Covid-19 and can’t work at home. It is paid at a flat rate of $600 a week for full-time workers who were working 20 hours or more a week, or $359 a week for part-time workers who were working fewer than 20 hours a week.

The Short-Term Absence Payment is available for businesses and self-employed people to help pay their employees who cannot work from home while they wait for the result of a Covid-19 test. It is paid at $359 per eligible worker.

Health and Wellness
A reminder that the gap between second and third doses of the Covid-19 vaccine has been shortened from four months to three. This will go a long way to safeguarding health as we head into this phased re-opening. From Friday 4 February 2022, people aged 18 and over can get a Pfizer booster 3 months (93 days) after their second dose.  More information HERE.

Have More Questions?
To help provide some practical advice and informed insights on how these next few weeks/months might play out once there are COVID-19 community cases in Queenstown, we have invited the SDHB’s Public Health South COVID-19 Manager Susan Moore to a Q&A session

This is an opportunity for members to ask questions around the public health requirements and how it relates to their business. Click here for further information and to register. 
 


Useful resources for more information
COVID-19: Information for businesses
COVID-19 New Zealand Government updates
Ministry of Health website for the latest updates on COVID-19
Work & Income NZ - COVID-19 Support

We are here to help so if you have any concerns or are not getting the support you need from the resources, please contact anyone below:
 
Destination Queenstown – Paul Abbot – CEO – paul@queenstownNZ.nz 
Queenstown Chamber – Ruth Stokes – CEO – ceo@queenstownchamber.org.nz 
Lake Wānaka Tourism – Tim Barke -  GM – gm@wanaka.co.nz 
Ignite Wānaka Chamber – Naomi Lindsay – General Manager – naomi@ignitewanaka.co.nz 
Arrowtown Promotion & Business Association (APBA) - Nicky Busst - Manager - info@arrowtown.com 
QLDC Economic Development – Peter Harris – Economic Development Manager peter.harris@qldc.govt.nz 
Regional Business Partners – Tara Druce – Business Advisor – tara@otagorbp.co.nz