The Government has confirmed the return of its COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme following New Zealand’s shift into Alert Level 4 on August 17.

New Zealand hospitality businesses are once again closed after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s announcement that the entire country will remain in Level 4 for a minimum of three days following the detection of the COVID-19 Delta variant in the Auckland community.

There are now 10 cases of the COVID-19 Delta variant recorded.

The Government says the Wage Subsidy scheme will be available nationwide with applications opening on Friday, 20 August.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson says the measures are in place to help affected businesses.

“A strong health response has led to a strong economic response – we’ve done this before and we can do it again,” he says.

The Wage Subsidy Scheme (WSS)

This allows eligible employers anywhere in the country to apply if they expect a loss of 40% of revenue as a result of the Alert Level increase.
The rates have been increased to reflect the increase in wage costs since the scheme was first introduced in March 2020. Businesses will be eligible for $600 per week per full-time equivalent employee, and $359 per week per part-time employee – it will be paid as a two-week lump sum.
Applications open on August 20, with the first payments usually available after three days.

The Resurgence Support Payment (RSP)

This 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 companies at the same time as the WSS. A Resurgence Support Payment (RSP) is available if companies incur a loss of 30% of revenue as a result of the Alert Level increase. The RSP is worth up to $1500 plus $400 per full-time equivalent employee, up to a maximum of 50 full-time employees (so up to a total of $21,500).

Hospitality NZ says the announcement of the new lockdown is just more devastating news for the hospitality sector.

“This will be another big blow for struggling businesses, though they’re not the only ones, and we know it’s necessary,” says Hospitality NZ Chief Executive, Julie White.

“Hospitality New Zealand met with our counterparts in Australia last week, so we know first-hand just how dire things are there as they deal with the Delta variant, and we want to avoid that.

“So there’s no alternative but to go into Level 4, however much that’s going to hurt.”

White says New Zealand was warned that a Level 4 lockdown would give us the best chance of stopping community spread of Delta.

“Hospitality New Zealand will be supporting our members, and particularly those in Auckland who have struggled through three previous lockdowns, as best we can through the coming days,” she says.

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