Reminder: The financial support available for businesses, workers amid COVID-19 outbreak

As Aucklanders enter alert level 3 lockdown, Kiwis are being reminded that the wage subsidy scheme extension is still available for applications and the Government's sick leave support scheme is still in place. 

Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield on Wednesday ordered anyone who has come into contact with staff at two Auckland businesses - Americold and Finance Now - to self-isolate because they may have interacted with confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has reminded Kiwis that the COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme is available for employers, including sole traders, to pay their workers who cannot work if they are sick and need to stay home and self-isolate. 

It was called 'COVID-19 Essential Workers Leave Support' because it was only available to essential businesses. It's now called 'COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme' because it's available for all employers who meet the criteria. 

The rate is $585.80 for full-time workers and $350 for part-time workers. 

The wage subsidy scheme extension is also still available for applications until September 1. It's available for businesses that have experienced a 40 percent decline in their revenue across a 30 day period within the 40 days they apply. 

Businesses can apply to receive an additional eight weeks of support. 

"I know the restrictions in place now in Auckland may tip people into now being eligible for the extension of the wage subsidy when they may not have been prior," Ardern said. "It is still available, I encourage you to reach out to Work and Income, make an application if you need that extra support."

The Small Business Cashflow Scheme remains open until December 31 and gives interest-free loans for up to a year of up to $100,000 for businesses employing 50 or fewer workers. 

There is also the COVID Income Relief Payment for people who lose their job between March 1 and October 30 as a result of COVID-19, which is paid at the same rate as the wage subsidy for 12 weeks and that remains open until November 13. 

"Anyone interested in those payments please reach out to Work and Income," Ardern said. 

Finance Minister Grant Robertson has met with Treasury and they are working on targeted economic support for the Auckland Region in a scenario where level 3 is to last longer than the present three days. 

The Government last month set aside $14 billion from the $50 billion COVID Response and Recovery Fund announced in Budget 2020 in case New Zealand experienced a second wave of COVID-19. 

ACT leader David Seymour said he's concerned about businesses in Auckland. 

"What information does it require to come out of this level 3 and 2 respectively by Friday? Because New Zealand businesses and households as they plan their futures right now cannot afford a rolling wall of surprises from the Government," he said. 

"I can tell you that people who are in business and people who are trying to run their households were bottomed out and starting to recover, they are now devastated by not just three days - which is manageable - but the uncertainty that this may not just be three days."

ASB Bank senior economist Mark Smith said Tuesday night's confirmation of community transmission of COVID-19 after a 102-day hiatus would have come as a shock to many - but it shouldn't. 

"We have stressed that tackling COVID-19 will be a marathon and not a sprint, that firms and households need to be prepared and maintain vigilance," he said. 

"Hopefully, the economic hit from this latest outbreak will prove short-lived, but the short answer at present is that we really don't know."

He estimated a 0.15 percent to 0.5 percent hit to GDP per week of lockdown, but this could get much larger if the outbreak has more enduring impacts.