Coronavirus: Wage subsidies cap lifted, all businesses eligible for package

All businesses, contractors and self-employed people are now eligible for the Government's COVID-19 wage subsidies package, the Finance Minister Grant Robertson announced.

The $12 billion COVID-19 package was revealed on March 17, and it initially included $5.1 billion in wage subsidies available immediately for affected businesses in all sectors.

Businesses were eligible to apply for wage subsidies if they could show a 30 percent decline in revenue for any month between January and June 2020 compared to the year before - including projected revenue.

If approved, employers would be paid $585.80 per week for full time staff, and $350 for part time staff. 

The payments initially had a limit of $150,000 per business, however that cap has now been completely lifted.

"All businesses, self employed, contractors and other organisations will be eligible," Robertson said.

New Zealand's COVID-19 alert level as of Monday.
New Zealand's COVID-19 alert level as of Monday. Photo credit: Newshub

Businesses that are less than one year old and firms with a significant increase in revenue in the past year are also now eligible.

"They'll need to demonstrate a revenue loss against a similar type of level, for example a 30 percent loss of income as a result of COVID-19 in March 2020 compared to January 2020."

Self-employed people with variable monthly incomes are also now eligible if they can show loss of revenue against the previous year's monthly income.

The updated scheme also covers registered charities, non-Governmental organisations, incorporated societies and post-settlement governance entities.

"The expansion of the scheme outlined today takes the estimated cost of the wage subsidies scheme from $5.1 billion to $9.3 billion," Robertson said.

Alert Level 3

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern raised the COVID-19 alert level to 3 on Monday, and signalled it will move to level 4 in 48 hours.

For New Zealand, the alert levels mean:

  • All non-essential businesses must close, such as pools, bars, cafes, restaurants and playground
  • In 48 hours all businesses which provide takeaway services must close their doors
  • All indoor and outdoor events cannot proceed
  • Schools will be closed from Tuesday except to the children of essential services such as doctors, police and ambulance drivers. This will give them time to plan
  • Schools will close entirely from midnight Wednesday
  • People must work from home so contact with others is limited
  • Public transport will begin to transition over the next 48 hours. It will remain for essential workers and transporting freight
Coronavirus: Wage subsidies cap lifted, all businesses eligible for package
Photo credit: Newshub

How long will it last?

These measures will be in place for four weeks.

"Testing will continue at pace - if we flush out the cases we already have we will be able to potentially lift areas out of level 4," Ardern said.

"If after four weeks we have been successful we will be able to ease these restrictions. If not we will have to live with them for longer.

"If you hang out with a friend at a park, or get lunch with a family member, you risk extending these measures for the whole of NZ."