The team of 5 million is bandings together again. Like most Kiwi whānau/families, we were glued to Jacinda Ardern and Dr Ashley Bloomfield’s press conference.
The team announced that for the first time in over 170 days Auckland recorded a community case of Covid-19. And the country was plunged into lockdown at Alert Level 4 with just six hours’ notice.
Soon after, every mobile phone in New Zealand received an emergency alert. I have to tell you that it’s pretty scary and piercing, like standing right under a smoke alarm in your house.
And the rules are as tight as they were for our first lockdown, seventeen months ago. For the next 7 days in Auckland and the Coromandel, with 3 days for the rest of the country, the only businesses allowed to open to the public are supermarkets, local dairies, pharmacies, and emergency medical. We can only leave our homes for food, medical supplies, or a walk in our local area.
The Ardern government made it very clear back in March 2020 that eradication was the only acceptable path for the country, and all in all, most Kiwis are behind her.
In the press conference, Jacinda was asked why the decision to go so quickly and so hard for the whole country, when the only community case was in Auckland’s North Shore?
And the answer was simple – we don’t want to end up like Australia, “just look at Sydney”. The New Zealand economy has been booming, despite the closure of our borders, bar our short bubble interlude with our beloved neighbours.
But I’m very confident that as a community we will largely abide by the rules that have been implemented for our safety and will see us being able to quickly return to business as usual.
Only last week Jacinda discussed the government’s plans for when Delta COVID-19 Variant arrived. It was always just a matter of time, and now our time has arrived!
The New Zealand government has released a number of packages to assist small businesses and employees impacted by the nation-wide lockdown including:
- The Wage Subsidy Scheme (WSS) which is available nationally when there’s a regional or national move to Alert Levels 3 and 4 for a period of seven days and helps eligible businesses keep paying staff and protect jobs. The 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.
- The Leave Support Scheme (LSS) provides a two-week lump sum payment of either $585.80 per week for full-time workers, or $350 per week for part-time workers, who must self-isolate and cannot work from home.
- The Short-Term Absence Payment (STAP) provides a one-off (once per 30 days) $350 payment for workers who must miss work due to a COVID-19 test and cannot work from home.
By Contributing writer:
Small Business Connection’s New Zealand business correspondent
Judy Celmins, Small Business Mentor