We are all scrambling to keep up with the evolving COVID-19 developments and the ramifications they will have for our businesses.
NZ is now at Alert Level 3 (Restrict) and will be shifting to Alert Level 4 (Eliminate) at midnight on Wednesday. Now that community transmission has been confirmed, the country will be in lockdown to contain the spread. Alert Level 4 is expected to continue for a minimum of four weeks at this stage.
Under Alert Level 4 all non-essential businesses must close. This includes bars, restaurants, cinemas, playgrounds.
Essential businesses, and those that support them, will continue to provide the necessities of life for everyone in New Zealand. This means food, medicine, healthcare, energy, fuel, waste-removal, internet and financial support will continue to be available.
Visit COVID-19.govt.nz for the list of essential businesses (Note: this list will evolve over time).
If you haven’t already talked to your bank, we encourage you to open lines of communication with your bank and have a plan in place.
To help our business clients through this time we are reducing our commercial finance interest rates by 1% for those on a fixed rate. We are also getting in contact with all our commercial finance clients over the next few days to assess their situation and see what assistance we can provide.
Yesterday the Government also announced they will be increasing the reach of the employer subsidy package – making many more businesses eligible. The overall employer subsidy package has been raised from $5.1b to $9.3b. If you haven’t applied for this yet, we encourage you to look into it, as the shift in alert levels will likely impact all West Coast businesses.
Today further announcements were made regarding a mortgage holiday scheme offered by retail banks. There will be a "six-month mortgage repayment holiday to homeowners whose incomes have been affected by COVID-19". The exact criteria will be announced by the banks in the coming days.
The Government and the banks will also implement a $6.25b Business Finance Guarantee Scheme for small and medium-sized businesses, to protect jobs and support the economy.
The package is proposed to include a six-month principal and interest payment holiday for mortgage holders and SME customers whose incomes have been affected by COVID-19.
The scheme will include a limit of $500,000 per loan and will apply to firms with a turnover of between $250,000 and $80 million per annum. The loans will be for a maximum of three years and expected to be provided by the banks at competitive, transparent rates.
We are waiting to hear further details about these new developments but will keep you updated.
Media Release: 24 March 2020