Coronavirus: 71 percent of Queenstown social sector organisations at capacity as COVID-19 increases demand - report

The majority of Queenstown social services are nearly at capacity.
The majority of Queenstown social services are nearly at capacity. Photo credit: Getty

The harsh impact of COVID-19 on Queenstown's social sector is being highlighted in a new report.

Council-led research found 71 percent of respondents were nearly at capacity to meet demand.

Statistics released in April revealed the Queenstown Lakes District - a major tourist hotspot and one of the hardest hit by the pandemic in New Zealand - had gone from being the richest region in the country to one of the poorest due to COVID-19 and closed borders. 

Queenstown Lakes District Council community lead Marie Day says some services have been run off their feet.

"A number of them have seen an increase in demand - particularly through the lockdown period," she told Newshub on Monday. "For example, those that provided food obviously saw quite a massive spike in what they were required to deliver, and generally, across the board, things like mental health issues seemed to be more challenging as well."

Day said more support for these sectors is crucial.

"The bigger challenge that people are anticipating will come after what we're calling 'the second wave'; what's going to happen when things like the wage subsidy finish and some of those other supports that are out there currently, end?

"We are already seeing an increase in unemployment - so there's a lot of work going on to see if we can create jobs in our community."

Day said the district's businesses are resilient.

"What the research is showing is that our social agencies have really banded together and have collaborated very well during this time, and are really being quite innovative in how they respond to the need that they are seeing."  

The wage subsidy was extended nationwide for a further two weeks due to the Auckland COVID-19 outbreak and is available for applications until Thursday. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Wednesday she didn't think it needed to be extended again.

Ardern in Queenstown in June.
Ardern in Queenstown in June. Photo credit: Newshub.

"As a Cabinet, we weighed up a number of factors when considering the two-week wage subsidy which has been applied across New Zealand," Ardern said in Parliament.

"That included that Auckland has had a combined lockdown at levels 3 and 4 in total of around nine weeks and the wage subsidy has been available for 22 weeks in total, far exceeding the level 3 and 4 levels."

But National leader Judith Collins said last week it was unfair the latest wage subsidy extension was for only two weeks.