Weekly Digest – 16 February 2022

Welcome back to our Weekly Digest. Read on for the latest updates and some ideas to help us all move forward.

NZ Moves to Phase 2 of Omicron Plan

The move to Phase Two from 11:59 pm on 15 February means the self-isolation period for cases reduces from 14 days to 10 days and for contacts from 10 days to seven. It also means the start of the test-to-return-to-work scheme, which allows critical workers to return to work if they return daily rapid antigen tests.

How to Travel to NZ with the New Self-Isolation Rules

New Zealand is set to open its borders to fully vaccinated travellers from all over the world in five stages in 2022. Unvaccinated Kiwis can also travel to the country but will have to enter managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) upon arrival. This article provides a step-by-step guide to planning a trip if you’re eligible.

Government Extends Events Transition Support Scheme

The government has extended its insurance scheme to give large-scale events financial certainty for another year. Originally due to run until 3 April, the Events Transition Support Scheme will now last until January 2023.

Minimum Wage Hike

New Zealand’s lowest-paid workers will get a minimum-raise in April. They will receive $21.20 per hour, while starting-out and training minimum wage will also be hiked to $16.96. This wage hike will directly benefit around 300,000 workers.

Home Sales and Prices Ease in January

Median nationwide house values were down 2.2% in January compared to the previous month. Meanwhile, the number of residential property sales decreased 28.6% in January, from 5,135 in January 2021 to 3,665.

BNZ Economists: Inflation to Hit 6.6% in Q1

Statistics New Zealand reported that food prices shot up 2.7% in January– the biggest monthly increase in 5 years. This prompted BNZ economists to raise their annual inflation pick for Q1 to 6.6% from 6.4% previously.

Manufacturing Activity Declines in January

The manufacturing sector saw a decline in the level of expansion in January, as the Bank of New Zealand-Business NZ’s seasonally adjusted Performance of Manufacturing Index (PMI) dropped to 52.1 from 53.7 in the previous month.

Additional Support for Arts & Culture Sector

The government has announced that the arts and culture industry will receive a funding boost. A one-off $5000 grant will be provided for self-employed individuals or sole traders who can show proof of a loss of income or opportunity to work.

Also, the Cultural Sector Emergency Relief Fund has been provided with an additional $35.5 million, while the Arts and Culture Event Support Scheme will be given an extra $70 million so it can be extended to 31 January 2023. The Screen Production Recovery Fund has also been granted an additional $15 million, with $7.9 million going to the New Zealand Film Commission and $7.1 million allocated to New Zealand on Air.

Change in Leave Support Scheme

The Leave Support Scheme is now a weekly payment, instead of a two-week payment amid the change in the periods of self-isolation.

This scheme is available to employers and the self-employed to help pay their employees who have been advised to self-isolate because of COVID-19 and can’t work at home during that period.

The COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme is paid at the rate of:

  • $600.00 a week for full-time workers who were working 20 hours or more a week.
  • $359 a week for part-time workers who were working less than 20 hours a week.

You can learn more about it here.

Events Transition Support Scheme Launched

The Events Transition Support Scheme opened last week, covering 90% of unrecoverable costs for major events cancelled or postponed due to the pandemic. It will apply to live, in-person paid events with over 5,000 attendees from 17 December until 3 April 2022.

Small Business Cashflow Loan Scheme

If you employ 50 or fewer staff, you may be able to apply for the Small Business Cashflow Loan Scheme. This is a one-off 5 year loan where you can borrow a maximum of $10,000 plus $1,800 per full-time-equivalent employee within your business.

  • When applying for the loan, you need to be able to declare that your business is viable.
  • Your business must have experienced a minimum 30% decline in actual or predicted revenue over the period of a month, compared with the same month last year.
  • Applications are open until 31 December 2023 through myIR. If your business does not have a myIR account, you will need to create one to apply.

Loans will be interest free if they are paid back within 2 years. The interest rate is 3% for a maximum term of 5 years.

COVID-19 Short-Term Absence Payment

The Short-Term Absence Payment is available for businesses, including self-employed people, to help pay employees who cannot work from home while they wait at home for a COVID-19 test result. This is a one-off payment of $359 for each eligible worker. You can find the details here.

Kiwi Business Boost Tool

The Government has funded specialist consultancy support services to provide advice to businesses who need it. You can use the Kiwi Business Boost Tool to find out what services are available in your region.

The Treasury website’s COVID-19 Economic Response Measures can also provide more information on the range of support available to businesses.

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