COVID-19: The Government's plan to support businesses as coronavirus impact worsens

The Government is considering tax breaks for businesses and is looking at support for workers forced to take leave as the economic impacts of coronavirus worsens - but that financial relief isn't a done deal.

"This is a time where New Zealand is about to weather a turbulent storm," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told Parliament on Tuesday. 

The coronavirus hurricane is hammering the economy, raising the spectre of a recession.

"We couldn't dismiss the prospect of some significant global correction or even recession," Simon Bridges, leader of the National Party, said.

On Monday night, the Prime Minister and Finance Minister Grant Robertson met with businesses, unions, exporters and tourism operators.

Newshub asked the Prime Minister if there is a blank cheque for coronavirus-hit industries if needed.

"Essentially, what we've been doing is looking at the need for different sectors and making sure we get in front of that," Ardern replied.

For businesses, tax relief is what's needed. And they might get it, as the Government considers a tax break - a holiday from the provisional tax that businesses and contractors pay.

"We are working through with the IRD how that would work," Robertson said. "At the moment, we have the ability and the IRD has the ability to waive any penalties for a late provisional tax payment. That seems to be working at the moment."

But the National Party says the tax relief needs to go further.

"Tax relief for middle-income earners is really important," Bridges said. "They were struggling before, and actually as we see the effects of this, it's going to be even harder."

The Finance Minister is open to tax cuts - or even cash-in-hand for all.

"I'm keeping all options on the table at the moment," Robertson told The AM Show on Tuesday morning.

"Clearly, there are two pretty obvious areas: one is direct income support, the other is the tax system - but that's some distance down the track."

The big concern for unions and workers is sick leave. Five days a year doesn't cut it if you're forced to self-isolate for 14 days.

"We're getting some advice," Robertson said. "The first and best is for businesses to operate a flexible approach knowing that it’s important for us all."

The Government is taking a sector-by-sector response to coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19.

It has already announced an $11 million fund for tourism and the Ministry of Social Development is offering assistance to workers in affected industries.

On Tuesday, relief came for crayfish exporters, too - they can now carry forward uncaught harvests after exports to China collapsed.

Analysis by Political Editor Tova O'Brien

The crayfish and tourism support is, of course, welcome in those industries.

But don't go banking on those potential tax cuts or cash injection because any real consideration of that is way down the line.

The tax and sick leave support is more likely, but even so, it isn't a given.