The Government is considering more measures to help foreign nationals in Queenstown laid off because of the Covid-19 pandemic, says the resort’s mayor, Jim Boult.
Boult said he had an urgent virtual meeting today with immigration minister Iain Lees-Galloway to get help for Queenstown Lakes District’s migrant workforce.
The resort has been hit hard by the collapse in tourism.
“The minister well understood the scale of the issues brought on by the current Covid-19 crisis and was grateful that we had brought it to the government’s attention so rapidly,” said Boult.
A number of initiatives were being considered including an automatic extension of expiring working visas, the ability to be redeployed to alternative workplaces, and the eligibility to apply for hardship grants.
Boult said the measures would “allow for urgent welfare assistance regardless of nationality, and for the redeployment of workers into industries which are critically short of workers due to border restrictions – like horticulture and viticulture”.
He added that QLDC had received 335 requests for community welfare and more than 200 food packages were delivered today.
“Although day one of the lockdown has provided us with unimaginable challenges, the response from our community, the QLDC team and our government has been impressive and humbling,” said Boult.
“If we continue in this way, we will get through this crisis admirably.”
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