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Industry News

COVID-19 – Advice and support

Supporting the New Zealand tourism industry through COVID-19

Unite for the Recovery is the Government website about COVID-19. See your own Backyard is the tourism page. 

Our thoughts are with those affected by the pandemic and we are thankful for the efforts of those working to prevent and contain the spread of the virus. 

Jump to: 

Current status

Latest updates

Advice for travellers leaving New Zealand

Advice for travellers to New Zealand

Advice for operators

     ---> Resources and guidelines for operators 

     ---> Business support 

     ---> Advice for hotels and accommodation providers 

     ---> Risk assessment

Inland Revenue

Managing workplace health

FAQs


Current status

  • New Zealand is at Alert Level 1.
  • COVID-19 is a quarantinable disease.  

It is important to note this is an emerging, rapidly evolving situation and that this risk assessment may change as more information on COVID-19 and its epidemiology becomes available.


Latest updates

9 June

New Zealand is at Alert Level 1. The borders remain closed but most other restrictions have been lifted. Read our media release.

5 June 2020

Change in criteria for wage subsidy
After feedback from businesses, the Government has taken the decision to change the required revenue drop threshold for the wage subsidy from 50% to 40%. Up to 230,000 businesses are now forecast be eligible for the new eight-week scheme from 10 June, covering up to 910,000 workers.

Small Business Cashflow Loan Scheme date extended
Small businesses are also being given more time to apply for the Small Business Cashflow Loan Scheme, with the application date being extended from 12 June to 24 July. TIA advocated for this change. 

Find out more

 


Advice for travellers leaving New Zealand 

New Zealanders should not attempt to travel overseas at this time. 


Advice for travellers to New Zealand 

Most foreign travellers can no longer enter New Zealand. 

Healthline has set up a dedicated 0800 number specifically for health-related calls about COVID-19.

  • The number is 0800 358 5453
  • Or for international SIMs +64 9 358 5453
  • People calling that line will be able to talk with a member of the National Telehealth Service and interpreters will be on hand. The number is staffed by nurses, paramedics and health advisors.

If you have flu-like symptoms please call Healthline immediately.


Advice for operators

Find more information about:

If a traveller is unwell, they can call Healthline on 0800 358 5453. If a traveller is identified as having been in contact with a confirmed case then the local public health unit will contact them, assess their health and provide advice.

The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 places an obligation on employers to ensure the health and safety of workers (so far as is reasonably practicable). Employers should attempt to reach a sensible arrangement with any affected employees regarding a stand-down period from work or denial of entry into New Zealand. 

Immigration

New Zealand employers who meet the criteria for a business providing an essential service as published on Covid-19.govt.nz and was operating during Alert Level 4 can request a variation in work conditions.

Inland Revenue

You may be able to apply for Income Relief Payment if you:

  • lost your last job or self-employment from 1 March 2020 to 30 October 2020 (inclusive) because of the impacts of COVID-19, and
  • normally worked 15 hours or more a week (for 12 weeks or more) before you lost your work because of COVID-19.

You must also be:

  • a New Zealand citizen or a resident with a residence class visa who was normally working and living in New Zealand when you lost your job, and
  • 18 years old or over, or a financially independent 16- or 17-year-old.

TIA members can email Denise Bayne denise.bayne001@msd.govt.nz for support. 

Insolvency

The Government will be introducing legislation to make changes to the Companies Act to help companies facing insolvency due to COVID-19 to remain viable and keep New Zealanders in jobs. For more information click here.

Redundancy 

See our PDF: COVID-19 tips for employers and PDF: COVID-19 tips for displaced employees

Risk assessment advice

How insurance will react to the COVID-19 outbreak will differ for each individual business. If your business has been directly affected by the outbreak please contact your insurance broker for an in-depth review of your policy schedule and wording to qualify if any cover is provided.

TIA’s strategic partner Marsh has provided a report to help businesses manage pandemic and epidemic risk: Outbreaks, Epidemics, and Pandemics: Preparedness and Response Strategies


Resources and guidelines for operators 

The Ministry of Health has launched the NZ Covid Tracer App to support contact tracing. Businesses can generate their QR code poster for each of their premises though MBIE’s Business Connect Service.

Business Support 

Redundancy Advice


Business support 

Wage Subsidy

The Government has put together a COVID-19 wage subsidy for employers in all regions. How to apply

The wage subsidy scheme:

  • supports employers adversely affected by COVID-19, so that they can continue to pay their employees
  • supports workers to ensure they continue to receive income, even if they are unable to work.

The aim of the scheme is to provide sufficient support to enable people to stay connected to their jobs, and continue to receive income. 

TIA factsheet: Wages and subsidy FAQS

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.

Important information

You can't apply for the Wage Subsidy Extension for an employee until their 12-week Wage Subsidy has finished.

Applications open from 10 June 2020.

You must have had, or expect to have, a revenue loss of at least 40% for the 30 days before you apply, compared to the closest period last year.

It will cover eight weeks per employee from the date you submit your application.

It will be paid to you as a lump sum at the same weekly rate as the Wage Subsidy.

You'll need to agree to certain obligations, such as to:

  • pass the subsidy on to your employees
  • retain your employees for the duration of the subsidy
  • do your best to pay your employees at least 80% of their normal pay
  • take active steps to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on your business.

Receiving more than one COVID-19 payment

You won't be able to receive more than one COVID-19 payment from us for the same employee at the same time. This includes the:

  • Wage Subsidy
  • Leave Support Scheme, and
  • Wage Subsidy Extension

Visit Work and Income for more information.

Tip: We recommend that employers ensure their IR details are up to date before they apply – you can check online on the Inland Revenue website.


Strategic Tourism Assets Protection Programme

The Strategic Tourism Assets Protection Programme is intended to protect the assets in the tourism landscape that form the core of our essential tourism offerings to ensure their survival through the disruption caused by COVID-19. The programme will also consider assets that are culturally and historically significant.

Eligibility criteria and the options for support to safeguard strategic assets through this programme are in development and will be considered by the Tourism Recovery Ministers Group in early June. A strategic asset will likely be:

  • nationally and/or internationally recognised,
  • a key attraction for New Zealand or a region, and
  • one without which, visitation to the region would be significantly diminished

Read about the Strategic Tourism Assets Protection Programme


Tourism Transitions Programme

This programme will deliver advice and support for either pivoting a business towards the domestic and Australian market, hibernating a firm, or other options.

The programme will complement investment in the Regional Business Partners network.

Businesses interested in finding out more about what support may be available to them, or in registering their interest for support, should visit the Tourism Advisory Support Services page on the Qualmark website.

Small Business Cashflow Loan Scheme
Small businesses are also being given more time to apply for the Small Business Cashflow Loan Scheme, with the application date being extended from 12 June to 24 July. TIA advocated for this change. 


Advice for hotels and accommodation providers 

Hotel staff cannot work in hotels if they:

  • have left any country except those listed in Category 2 (excluding airport transit) in the last 14 days. 
  • have been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the last 14 days.

Inland Revenue 

Inland Revenue has advised that if your business is unable to pay its taxes on time due to the impact of COVID-19, they understand, you don’t need to contact them right now. Get in touch when you can, and they’ll write-off any penalties and interest.

It would help if you continue to file however, as the information is used to make correct payments to people, and to help the Government continue to respond to what is happening in the economy.

Inland Revenue is continuing to provide essential services for business and individual customers, including payments to Working for Families customers and the administration of Child Support.

Because of the extremely difficult circumstances, they are having to prioritise the work they do and adjust the way they do it accordingly. Find out more


Managing mental health 

Public discussion of COVID-19 can be distressing and it’s normal to experience symptoms of stress. Help and professional support is available. 

If you feel you are not coping, it is important to talk with a health professional. For support with grief, anxiety, distress or mental wellbeing, you can call or text 1737 – free, anytime, 24 hours a day, seven days a week – to talk with a trained counsellor.  

Online resilience support programme
The psychologists at Umbrella Wellbeing Ltd spotted our request for support for members and have responded with access to their online resilience support programme.

You can access this programme as often as you like and work through the modules at your own pace. Or you may want to get together with your team or colleagues to look at the modules together.

There are eight training modules and each cover a different building block of resilience:

  • Social support
  • Improving physical health
  • Understanding stress and resilience
  • Managing emotion under pressure
  • Smart thinking
  • Tools for improving wellbeing
  • Improving work performance and recovery
  • Realistic optimism

Each module includes a downloadable action plan, to help you personalise your learning and practise resilience skills.

Username: TourismTIA
Password: Support

Employee Assisted Services 
Employee Assisted Services is New Zealand’s employee assistance programme provider. EAP can provide confidential, practical assistance to employees and employers when personal or work issues arise that may impact on their ability to do their job or affect their well-being.

Government advice
See the Government's COVID-19 page for more advice on managing mental health.


FAQs

Wages and subsidy FAQS

Previously redundant employees

As an employer, if you had to let some of your employees go because of COVID-19, you can now rehire them and get the COVID-19 Wage Subsidy to help pay them, so long as:

The employee was employed by you as of 17 March 2020;
You let them go because of COVID-19; and
You did not previously apply for the COVID-19 Wage Subsidy for the employee.

In these instances, the obligation of ‘good faith’ will apply and you must rehire the employee on at least the same terms and conditions.

Re-employment will need to be on a fixed-term basis, subject to the Wage Subsidy.

Employees who work variable hours

If your employees work variable hours, you may use an ‘average’ approach to work out what rate to apply for. To find this calculation, use the average hours worked over the last 12 month period or over the time period they have been employed (if it is less than 12 months). Using this average number of hours, if it is 20 hours or more you apply at the full-time rate and if it is less than 20, you apply for the part-time rate.

Making staff redundant - tips 

See our PDF: COVID-19 tips for employers and PDF: COVID-19 tips for displaced employees

Cancellations

What should I do about cancellations?

How each business deals with cancellations is their own individual commercial decision to make. There are no easy answers - we have seen a variety of responses across the industry so far, with people balancing their current needs with a longer-term view of securing good relationships for the future when things ease up again. Refer to your terms and conditions and do what you need to do or what you can.

On 15 April the Commerce Commission released some guidance for businesses and consumers on consumers’ rights and businesses’ obligations for cancelled services and events

We have a force majeure clause in our agreements, can we use it now?

Yes, however, it depends on the wording. Lane Neave suggests seeking advice before looking to invoke one of these clauses.

Privacy

The Privacy Commissioner has recently answered commonly asked questions when it comes to protecting the privacy of employees:

An employee comes to work with possible COVID-19 symptoms and is sent home. Can staff be told the employee who might have the virus?

An exception under the Privacy Act 1993 permits the use and disclosure of personal information where it is believed that the disclosure is necessary in order to prevent or lessen the risk of a serious threat to someone’s safety, wellbeing or health. Therefore, if you are concerned about a risk of transmission to other employees, you could tell them about the possible exposure.

Can I require my employee to provide medical clearance before returning to work?

Yes, under the Holidays Act 2003, in relation to health and safety or hygiene reasons, which would prevent the employee from working and there is clause in the employment agreement allowing this.