21 September 2021

Covid-19 Update

Our team will work to keep the Southland Business Chamber online resources up-to-date, as and when we get information relevant to business.

Find out the Alert Level for your region.

You can view the latest COVID-19 updates here, click here for links to all business information and support services available, or view full details of the confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand.

Operating a business at Alert Level 2

As alert levels change, check out Business.govt.nz guidelines showing you how Alert Level rules apply to different business types.

Law Changes

Mandatory Face Masks / Coverings

Face coverings can help reduce the spread of COVID-19. They stop droplets spreading when someone speaks, laughs, coughs or sneezes. This includes someone who has COVID-19 but feels well or has no obvious symptoms.

Learn more about mandatory face masks here.

Requirement for Businesses to Ensure Scanning / Record Keeping

It has become compulsory for many public-facing businesses to have a QR scanning or other record-keeping system for the use of every person entering their premises.

And from 11.59pm Tuesday 5 October, businesses need to have QR codes located in multiple places around the premises. This is in addition to the original requirement to have a QR code displayed at the main entrance of the premises. Businesses will need to make sure all QR code posters are in good condition so they can be easily scanned.

Business.govt.nz has guidance for businesses on contact tracing at your business, click here to view.

Get your NZ COVID Tracer QR code poster

Keep Track of Where You Have Been

Everyone aged 12 and over legally must keep a record of where they have been when visiting certain places so contact tracing can happen quickly. You must do this at all Alert Levels.

Keep track of where you have been at all Alert Levels

Use the NZ COVID Tracer app if you can. This helps with rapid contact tracing if it is required.

Business Travel Across Alert Level Boundaries

Movement between Alert Level Boundaries will be restricted.

An Alert Level Boundary separates areas of New Zealand that are at different Alert Levels. Businesses need to provide their staff with proof of eligibility to travel across an Alert Level Boundary, such as the documentation generated at MBIE’s Business Travel Register. Previously issued Business Travel Documents are no longer valid.

There is also mandatory COVID-19 testing to move between Alert level Boundaries, click here to learn more.

Click here for information about personal travel across an Alert Level Boundary.

Financial Support for Business

There’s a range of financial support you might be eligible to apply for as a result of the COVID-19 alert level rise, including

  • Wage Subsidy Scheme
  • Resurgence Support Payment
  • Short-Term Absence Payment
  • Leave Support Scheme.

The Wage Subsidy Scheme (WSS)

The Wage Subsidy is a payment to support eligible businesses, organisations and the self-employed affected by Alert Levels 3 and 4, so they can continue to pay employees and protect jobs.

You can apply for the Wage Subsidy regardless of where your business is located in New Zealand. However, your business must have been affected by the continuation of Alert Level 3 or 4.

The Wage Subsidy is paid in two-week periods. Since the alert level change on 17 August 2021, several rounds of the scheme have been announced:  Wage Subsidy August 2021, Wage Subsidy August 2021#2, Wage Subsidy August 2021 #3 and Wage Subsidy August 2021 #4.

You can apply for more than one round of the wage subsidies, two weeks after your previous application, if you meet eligibility criteria. If you applied for a previous round and were eligible, Work and Income will email you to let you know when to apply for the next round. Don’t send in early applications, they won’t be accepted as each payment is for a two-week period. If you didn’t apply for the initial Wage Subsidy you can apply for a further Wage Subsidy, if you meet eligibility criteria.

To reflect higher wage costs since the scheme was first used in March 2020 the payments have been increased to:

  • $600 per week per full-time employee
  • $359 per week per part-time employee.

You can check your application status by calling our Wage Subsidy line on 0800 40 80 40.

Find out more here

The Resurgence Support Payment (RSP) helps to cover wages and fixed costs for businesses who have been directly affected when there is an increase to Alert Level 2 or higher for a week or more. 

Businesses anywhere in New Zealand can apply if they meet the eligibility criteria. Click here for eligibility for the Resurgence Support Payment.

Applications for the Resurgence Support Payment (RSP) will open for eligible businesses and organisations 7 days after the alert level increase. Once applications open, they will remain open for one month after all of New Zealand returns to alert level 1.

  • You can receive $1,500 per business plus $400 per full-time employee (FTE), up to 50 FTE.
  • The maximum payment is $21,500.
  • If you’re a sole trader, you can receive a payment of up to $1,900.

A third Resurgence Support Payment from Inland Revenue is now available. You can apply for both the COVID-19 Resurgence Support Payment and the COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme if you meet all the eligible criteria.

Apply for the subsidy here.

The COVID-19 Leave Support Payment (LSS) is available for employers, including self-employed people, to help pay their employees who need to self-isolate and can’t work from home.

This means your workers

  • Can’t come into work because they are in one of the affected groups and have been told to self-isolate, and
  • Can’t work from home.

Apply for the LSS here

The Short-Term Absence Payment (STAP) is available for businesses, including self-employed people, to help pay their workers who cannot work from home while they wait for a COVID-19 test result.

It’s to help businesses keep paying eligible workers who

  • Cannot work from home, and
  • Need to miss work to stay home while waiting for a COVID-19 test result (in line with public health guidance).

Apply for the STAP here

Juggling Privacy and Contact Tracing

The Privacy Commissioner has some guidance on how to protect people’s privacy when setting up a record keeping system of visitors to your business.

Click here to learn more.

Looking After Your Mental Wellbeing

Looking after your family, your team and your friends is important right now, but it’s also important to take care of yourself. There are resources that can help you take care of your mental health and wellbeing.

Building mental resilience isn’t about adding more to your to-do list, says Vanessa Cooper, Mentally Healthy Work Specialist at WorkSafe New Zealand.

Don’t get overwhelmed by all of the things you ‘should’ be doing for your mental health. Sometimes less is more, so pick one or two things that interest you and try them.”

For instance, if you think breathing exercises might help, just do that.

Or you might be keen to expand your network. Options to choose from include

  • Organising a regular coffee catch-up with another business owner
  • Seeing what events your local Chamber of Commerce has coming up
  • Tapping into your industry association or professional body.

This will help combat social isolation as well as keep you up to date on new developments and put you in touch with your peers.

By building up your network, or getting a business mentor, you can share experiences with peers. Swapping stories, hearing what other people have done, how they’ve coped (or not coped), can help lessen your mental load. Click here to learn how to get a Small Business Mentor (Business Mentors NZ).

If you feel a bit overwhelmed, anxious or just want to talk, free services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week: call or text 1737 for support from a trained counsellor

Got questions or need support? Call the free COVID-19 Business Helpline

All New Zealand businesses, including sole traders, can get support and advice on

  • Government financial support, eg Wage Subsidy Scheme, Resurgence Support Payment
  • What different alert levels mean for your business
  • Business continuity
  • Finding free or subsidised expert help, eg a business mentor or advisor.

Employers can also get specific advice on people challenges, including staffing changes, employee wellness, and meeting your health and safety obligations. North Island 0800 500 362 |  South Island 0800 50 50 96

Business.govt.nz also have a full list of the financial support available to businesses through the Government, and what is and isn’t accessible at various Alert Levels. Visit their website for full details.

Above information updated 11.30am, 8 October 2021