The Government has announced New Zealand will move from Alert Level 3 to Alert Level 2 at 11.59pm on Wednesday 13 May. Until then we are still in Alert Level 3.
Golden Rules for Business when we shift to Alert Level 2.
Do everything you can to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission at work — we all have a part to play in keeping each other safe.
• COVID-19 is still out there. Play it safe.
• All businesses can operate if they can do so safely. Alternative ways of working are still encouraged where possible.
• Talk with your workers to identify risks and ways to manage them.
• Ask everyone, workers, contractors and customers, with cold or flu-like symptoms to stay away from your premises.
• Keep groups of customers 1 metre apart.
• Keep contact-tracing records of anyone who will have close interaction (workers, contractors or customers).
• Reduce the number of shared surfaces, and regularly disinfect them.
• Wash your hands. Wash your hands. Wash your hands.
More information about Level 2.
We welcome Cabinet’s decision to move the country down to Alert Level 2. The PM has announced that most businesses will be able to operate again on Thursday 14 May, with the exception of bars which cannot open until 21 May.
Our cafes, restaurants, retailers, hairdressers and those in our tourism industry – many of whom have not been able to operate under Alert Level 3, will now be able to open on Thursday with social distancing and strict hygiene protocols in place.
This has been an unprecedented time. I know this is becoming a worn-out phrase, but it is important to acknowledge just how challenging it has been for everyone, particularly those in our business community.
We are already seeing businesses on the Coast having to make the difficult decision to close shop.
The unfortunate reality is not every business will be able to survive the impact of COVID-19. This is no reflection on the business owners and their staff, how hard they have worked or how sound their business ideas have been – sometimes unforeseen circumstances ruin even the best laid plans.
The current situation is already having a significant impact on employment on the Coast. The latest figures from MSD show there has been an increase of 268 people registered for Jobseeker support since the start of the year. 7.5% of our working age population are now receiving a benefit - up 1.4% from the start of the year.
Unfortunately, these numbers are likely to worsen once the Government’s 12-week wage subsidy scheme runs out, and businesses take a hard look at their long-term viability and decide whether they can continue or will have to close either temporarily or permanently. Next week’s budget may provide some additional government support for small businesses to mitigate this.
These difficult decisions will be unavoidable for some. To help businesses through this process, we recently hosted a webinar with a panel of experts on how to put your business into hibernation. We will be holding a similar webinar in a couple of weeks to help inform people on best practices for mothballing their business and how they can utilise the Government’s debt hibernation scheme.
While it is tough to see businesses going through such challenges, we are also seeing innovative Coasters adapting to the situation and working to support each other.
Just last week PM Ardern highlighted West Coast initiatives and collaboration in her ‘Kiwi ingenuity’ spotlight.
We have seen Coast businesses pivoting their production lines to meet new demands, such as producing hand sanitiser and protective face shields.
And we have also seen many of our cafes, restaurants and retailers adapting to the regulations required to operate under Level 3 - from businesses quickly setting up ecommerce stores to a takeaway shop serving customers through a cat door. There has been a lot of Coast ingenuity on display.
These businesses are the heart and soul of our communities. To help them adapt to the changing environment and the additional costs it brings with it, DWC set up a Delivery Rebate Scheme – it’s not too late to apply. And if your business needs any help setting up an ecommerce store, we encourage you to get in contact with us.
To help promote businesses who are back operating we have worked with EPIC Westport and Tai Poutini Polytechnic to set up an online directory showcasing Coast businesses. The response to this has been fantastic with over 240 businesses already registered on www.nowopen.co.nz.
We are also running a ‘Keep it Coastal, Support Local’ campaign to encourage Coasters to shop locally and support one another. This includes a number of great ‘book now, do later’ deals. We also have a ‘Book a Best Coast Holiday’ campaign ready to launch once New Zealand shifts to Alert Level 2.
DWC is leading an Economic Recovery Steering Group, chaired by Rob Caldwell, with Iwi, DOC, the Provincial Development Unit, TPP and the Regional Council. The group is meeting regularly to look at the key COVID-19 related economic issues affecting our region, coordinating West Coast recovery needs, and working on a further package to take to Government.
As a subgroup of this, a Tourism Recovery Group has also been set up to work on transforming our tourism industry for a post COVID-19 environment. The West Coast tourism industry will likely to be much smaller for some time, but hopefully better and more robust. This group includes representatives from across the region and is working on developing a West Coast destination management plan, as well as a short term promotional campaign to showcase the fantastic West Coast attractions to the domestic market.
This has been an immensely challenging time for everyone. But it has been incredibly heartening to see Coasters supporting each other through it all. We look forward to the beginning of a shift to Level 2 on Thursday and seeing more of our businesses able to operate again.
Development West Coast | Chief Executive
Never forget where you came from, and remember your roots.
These past weeks in level 4 lockdown have been an experience that will stay with us forever. For many it will have been a time to remember where they’ve come from and what’s shaped them into who they are today.
The same can be said for the economics of our Region. It’s important to remember what our economy has been built on and what has shaped our Region to what it is today.
As we navigate our way forward from our time in lockdown, we know it is business that will lead our recovery, and our West Coast people will make that happen.
We know our West Coast economy relies on many different business sectors and industries. And we know one business sector or industry supports the other.
We know different sectors have their ups and downs, and our Region has experienced this many times. Our businesses can be affected if linked to the export market, dictated by commodity prices, a natural disaster or weather event interruption, or decline in visitor numbers.
But what we haven’t experienced before is the majority of our businesses grinding to a halt due to a global pandemic. Thankfully, we’re on the move again. But the recovery will be slow.
Yet we will adapt as we navigate our way forward. We’re doing this already by the way we shop for clothes, food, beverages, and many other household goods. Through quick action, the Region has come together and we now have many businesses set-up on-line for trading so we can shop or use their service. Let’s remember to shop locally and support our Coast businesses - many of them are owner operators, and employers.
And it’s the simple things in life that through lockdown we’ve realised are so important - we need food to eat, fuel to keep us warm, technology to keep us connected or educated. And we need the support of each other.
We know we need our Coast industries and primary producers, along with a diverse business community of all shapes and sizes. We also know we need reliable and safe transport linkages including roading, rail, and port infrastructure to support all business sectors, and our people.
Our PM talks about Team NZ – let’s think Team West Coast. We need to play to our strengths. Our biggest strengths are our people, and our place. We respect our environment that we live, work and play in. We’ve proven we can work with and produce from our land and shores, whilst still being good custodians. And we look after each other, we have community spirit in our DNA.
Moving forward as a Region, remembering where we’ve come from holds us in good stead to put our best foot forward into the future.
As a result of COVID-19 and the current economic environment, Development West Coast (DWC) has made the decision to postpone the awards ceremony which was going to take place on the 16th of October 2020.
DWC’s priority at this time is to assist and support our West Coast businesses through this challenging period and into the transition and rebuild phase of the West Coast business environment once the lockdown is over.
We hope to reschedule the awards for 2021 and I’ll be in touch again once we have a new date set for the awards.
COVID-19 Business assistance.
If you need any assistance or clarification on how to access support, or would like to talk with one of DWC’s Capability and Growth Advisors, we are here to help.
Funded advice and support available to West Coast businesses.
Eligible West Coast businesses will be able to access funds to put towards a range of approved support services thanks to the Regional Business Partner (RBP) COVID-19 Advisory Funding. The fund will be administered locally by DWC.
Businesses will be able to access the fund pay for one-on-one advice and support in the following areas:
- Health and wellness
- Business continuity planning
- Finance and cashflow management
To be eligible for funding businesses will need to meet the following criteria:
- Have fewer than 50 full time equivalent employees
- Be registered for GST in New Zealand
- Be operating in a commercial environment
- Be a privately owned businesses, or a Maori Trust or incorporation under the Te Ture Whenua Maori Act 1993 or similar organisation managing Maori assets under multiple ownership.
If your business meets the above criteria and you wish to apply for the RBP Covid-19 Advisory Fund your next step is to arrange an assessment a DWC Growth Advisor. Funding will be at the discretion of the Growth Advisors with the aim to provide funds to as many eligible businesses as possible.
We may not be able to hold our usual workshops and events during the lock down, but we will keep you posted with upcoming virtual events which have been specifically designed to support business through the impact of COVID-19.
Wage Subsidy Extension
A Wage Subsidy Extension payment will be available to support employers, including sole traders, who are still significantly impacted by COVID-19 after the Wage Subsidy ends.
The Wage Subsidy Extension will be available from 10 June 2020 until 1 September 2020 so employers can keep paying their employees. Applications open from 10 June 2020.
Businesses must show a revenue loss of at least 40% for a continuous 30 day period. This period needs to be in the 40 days before you apply (but no earlier than 10 May 2020) and must be compared to the closest period last year.
Business Finance Guarantee Scheme
Small and medium-sized businesses may be eligible for the Business Finance Guarantee Scheme to protect jobs and support the economy. The Crown in partnership with participating approved banks will support targeted new loans (including increases to existing limits) to eligible businesses, as a response to difficulties caused by COVID-19.
Business cash flow and tax measures
The government has implemented measures to support business cash flow and tax measures.
Small Business Cashflow Loan Scheme
Inland Revenue will provide interest-free loans for a year to small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 economic shock.
The Small Business Cashflow Loan Scheme will provide assistance of up to $100,000 to firms employing 50 or fewer full-time equivalent employees.
Loans will be interest-free if they are paid back within a year. The interest rate will be 3% for a maximum term of five years. Repayments are not required for the first two years.
Applications will close on 24 July and be managed by Inland Revenue.
Support for Māori communities and businesses
Māori communities and businesses can access help tailored to meet the specific needs of Māori in the face of COVID-19. These include:
- A Whānau Māori Community and Mārae package reprioritising $10 million from the Māori Development vote to support community outreach
- Māori Health and Whānau Ora response with $30 million targeted directly to Māori Health services and an extra $15 million to Whānau Ora commissioning agencies
- supporting Māori Businesses and engaging with Māori with $1 million of funding to enable a needs assessment for Māori businesses, and $470,000 to Te Arawhiti to engage and work with iwi on their COVID-19 pandemic response plans.
Insolvency relief for companies impacted by COVID-19
New legislation is underway to help companies facing insolvency due to COVID-19 to remain viable. Companies Office has more information about the changes.
Online business directory.
A popup online business directory of West Coast businesses operating during COVID-19 has been developed in a collaboration between EPIC Westport, Tai Poutini Polytechnic and DWC.
COVID-19 Business Resources and Information
General resources: COVID-19 (New Zealand Government)
Financial support: Wage subsidies (Work and Income)
Small business resources: Coronavirus: Information for businesses (business.govt.nz)
Tax information: Tax relief – COVID-19 (Inland Revenue)
Exporters/Importers: COVID-19 – Information for exporters (New Zealand Trade and Enterprise)
Māori Businesses: Support for Māori Businesses (Beehive)
Workplace response: Workplace response to coronavirus (Employment New Zealand)
Workplace preparedness: Workplace preparedness for novel coronavirus (COVID-19) (WorkSafe New Zealand)
Privacy: Is it okay to tell other employees that a colleague is sick? (Privacy Commissioner)
Redundancy information: Coronavirus: Redundancy information for employers - PDF (Work and Income)
Immigration: Coronavirus update: INZ’s response (Immigration New Zealand)
Travel: Novel coronavirus, China (COVID-19) (SafeTravel - MFAT)
Tourism: Coronavirus – Information for industry (Tourism New Zealand)
Accommodation sector: COVID-19 - Information for hotels and hotel staff (Ministry of Health)
Hospitality: COVID-19 guidelines (Hospitality NZ)
Health: Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) (Ministry of Health)
Landlords/tenants: COVID-19 – what landlords and tenants need to know (Tenancy Services)
Education sector: Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) (Ministry of Education)
Google My Business: GMB essentials during COVID-19 (PDF: 328KB)