Details of the Government’s second extension to its wage subsidy scheme are expected at 3pm today, Monday 17 August.
The latest extension cames after it was announced on Friday that Auckland would remain at Covid-19 alert level 3 and the rest of New Zealand at level 2 until 11:59pm Wednesday 26 August.
The restrictions would be reviewed on Friday 21 August.
The extension of the current restrictions, which began at midday Wednesday 12 August, follow the growth of the Auckland-based cluster to 29 confirmed cases and one probable. The cluster had extended to the Waikato town of Tokoroa with two cases confirmed there.
Finance minister Grant Robertson said on Friday that Cabinet had made an in-principle decision to extend the wage subsidy scheme, due to expire on 1 September. Details would be finalised over the weekend and revealed today.
“The latest Covid-19 outbreak is obviously disappointing, especially for businesses that have just got up and running again,” Robertson said.
“An important part of our plan is our decision in July to ringfence the remaining $14bn in the Covid fund in case there were further outbreaks. There is also money remaining in the existing wage subsidy allocation that will help meet the costs of this further extension.”
Robertson said the extended wage subsidy would apply nationwide, “particularly given the significance of Auckland’s economy to the wider country, and due to the impact alert level 2 would have on sectors like hospitality and retail”.
The eligibility requirements would be similar to previous criteria but the new extension would only cover the period that the current lockdown restrictions stayed in place.
The Government said it had also modified the Covid-19 sick leave scheme to make it more accessible.
“We are very aware that those who are required to self-isolate may be concerned if they do not have any sick leave entitlements left or the business they work for is not eligible for the scheme under current settings,” Robertson said.
“We want everyone to feel confident that if they return a positive test that they will be looked after. Final details of these modifications will also be decided on Monday.”
An extension to the mortgage deferral scheme had also been agreed in principle as part of the plan to support households after the existing scheme expired on 27 September. Details, including the length of the scheme extension, would be announced next week.
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