Wage subsidy, business support signalled by Government following new Covid-19 outbreak

The Government could announce a new business support package if the current Covid-19 Level 3 and 2 restrictions last longer than three days, according to the Finance Minister.

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Grant Robertson says Treasury and the Ministry of Social Development are looking at options for another special subsidy. Source: Breakfast

The Auckland region went into Level 3 lockdown yesterday shutting many businesses following a new Covid-19 community transmission outbreak. The rest of the country moved to Level 2 restrictions.

At this stage the restrictions are in place to midnight on Friday, however the Government could decide to extend the restrictions.

Speaking to TVNZ1’s Breakfast this morning, Finance Minister Grant Robertson said the financial impact of the current restrictions for even just a week could see a loss of $300 to $400 million to the economy.

“Clearly there is an impact on the economy when we go to Level 3 restrictions,” he says.

Heading up the alert levels early and fast to stamp out the virus is better for the economy to rebound in the long run, Mr Robertson says.

“We’ve been able to come back from lockdown a lot quicker than was expected, that’s meant we’ve generated billions of dollars into the economy that we hadn’t expected.

“We have done better than we thought we had. Business was actually booming in a lot of areas.”

He says the emotional toll of taking a step back for businesses after rebounding so well in Level 1 is something he empathises with.

“That’s also why we’re working on a support package because we recognise that if these restrictions go beyond the three days there will be an impact on those businesses that we want to mitigate.”

The Government has asked Treasury and the Ministry of Social Development to look at the option of a wage subsidy for affected workers in the Auckland region.

“Clearly when you’ve got one region under a particular restriction there are going to be greater impacts in that region.”

The Government is expected to announce tomorrow whether Auckland will remain in Alert Level 3 past Friday.