Weekly Digest – 8 December 2021

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

Auckland lockdown ends

The big news this week is the announcement of the Auckland lockdown ending on December 15. People will be able to travel to and from the city with a vaccine certificate or negative test result.

NZ-Cook Islands Travel Bubble to Reopen in January

Quarantine and isolation-free travel between New Zealand and the Cook Islands will resume on 14 January. The travel bubble will only be for fully vaccinated travellers who are over 12 years old. Those under 12 years old will only be allowed to visit once children aged 5 to 11 in both countries are able to be vaccinated.

What You Need to Know About the Traffic Light System

The new Covid-19 Protection Framework or the traffic light system is now being implemented in New Zealand. Here’s what you need to know:

Red

  • Red is the most restrictive and is applied to protect vulnerable communities and the health system from unsustainable hospitalisations due to COVID-19.
  • Face coverings are mandatory when travelling with members of the public, in retail and to an extent in education. Public facilities and retail are open with capacity limits.
  • With vaccine passes, businesses and gatherings are limited to 100 people.
  • Without vaccine passes, hospitality must remain contactless and gatherings are limited to 25 people.
  • Auckland and some parts of the North Island are in the “red” zone.

Orange

  • Orange is intended for regions where community transmission is pressuring the health system.
  • With vaccine passes, there are no limits on gathering sizes.
  • Without vaccine passes, hospitality is still contactless while gathering size limits double to 50.

Green

  • Green is the least restrictive and would only be applied when there’s limited community transmission and hospitalisations are manageable.
  • Face coverings are only mandatory on flights and in some settings where vaccine passes are not used.
  • There are no limits to businesses and gatherings with vaccine passes.
  • Without passes, gathering sizes are limited to 100 people. Hospitality may return to in-person service, but customers must be 1-metre away from each other.

Franchises Businesses See Growth

The Franchising New Zealand 2021 report shows that the annual turnover of business format franchises grew by $9.2 billion in the past four years to $36.8 billion, from $27.6 billion in 2017, excluding sales from motor vehicle and fuel retail.

Franchise employment had also risen at a rate of around 8,000 a year since 2017.

Xero Research: ICT Expenditure for Small Businesses Increased by 25%

New Xero research called ‘Picking up the pace: Trends in small business technology adoption and use’ shows ICT expenditure for New Zealand small businesses has increased by 25% compared to pre-Covid-19 levels.

This figure is higher compared to Australia with 13% and the UK with 20%.

This significantly higher expenditure was noted as the key to success for NZ, as their small businesses reported higher total sales levels. If you want to explore your options for technologies to integrate into your business, get in touch with us today!

How to Get ‘My Vaccine Pass’

The government has launched its vaccine pass or certificates, which allows New Zealanders to download proof that they are fully vaccinated.

The “My Vaccine Pass” will take the form of a QR code that can be shown digitally or on printed paper, allowing venues to check whether a person has been vaccinated or not.

Once you are fully vaccinated, you can access My Covid Record, and make a My Health Account via this website. You will need an email address, password, and proof of identity to create an account.

For those without a smartphone or access to a computer, you may call 0800 222 478 to request a My Vaccine Pass.

Events Transition Support Scheme Launched

The Events Transition Support Scheme has been opened from this week which will cover 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.

Support available to you

Work and Income has a Find COVID-19 Support tool to help you find the support options you’re eligible for.

Wage Subsidy August 2021 #8

Applications for Wage Subsidy August 2021 #8 are open until 9 December 2021. The Wage Subsidy payments support employers to continue to pay employees and protect jobs for businesses affected by a change in COVID-19 alert levels.

Support for Businesses to Transition to Traffic Light System

A payment of up to $24,000 would be available to businesses as they moved into the new traffic light system for managing the pandemic. This one-off transition payment would be activated through the Resurgence Support Payment system and would be available on 10 December.

The payment is at a higher base rate than the current RSP and will be $4,000 per business, plus $400 per full-time employee up to a cap of 50 FTEs. The estimated total cost of the payment is between $350 million and $490 million.

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 Leave Support Scheme

If an employee cannot work from home while self-isolating, you may be able to apply for financial support so they can continue to get paid.

The Leave Support Scheme is paid as a 2 week lump sum at the rate of:

  • $600 a week for full-time employees
  • $359 a week for part-time employees

You cannot get the Wage Subsidy August 2021, Leave Support Scheme and Short-Term Absence Payment for the same employee at the same time.

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 $350. You can find the details here.

New Tool for Businesses

Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Wood today announced a new tool to help businesses assess whether they should be requiring workers to be vaccinated. This assessment tool will be available from mid-December.

When the new traffic light system comes into place from 3 December, it will be a requirement for vaccine passes to be shown for those businesses that opt into it. The tool provides a clear legal framework to help businesses and other employers to decide about vaccinations in the workplace.

Businesses that opt in should use the passes, and those which fail to enforce them will face penalties from $300 to $12,000 for a company, or $15,000 for a court-imposed fine for a company.

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.

Training Incentive Allowance

The Training Incentive Allowance can help with tuition fees, books, childcare, equipment, transport and any additional caring costs while studying. It’s available for courses at levels 1-7 of the NZ Qualifications Framework. Visit the Work and Income website to find out who’s eligible, how much you can get and who can apply.

Get in touch

Contact us if you have any questions or want to discuss the next steps for your business.

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