The Government will introduce a targeted wage subsidy for businesses hurt by coronavirus. There will also be some targeted tax help for businesses hurt by the virus' economic effect, with possible deferred payments and relief for small businesses impacted.
The ‘business continuity package’ was agreed to by Cabinet and will be finalised in the coming days, before detailed announcements are made.
Details of a longer-term package which could be used if the economy worsens is also being worked on. It will include training options for workers who are losing work because of the virus.
Wage subsidies were used to help businesses after the Canterbury and Kaikoura earthquakes, but Finance Minister Grant Robertson noted the impacts of Covid-19 were much more complex and widespread.
"The rapidly changing situation we face is different from others that the economy has experienced in recent years. It is clear in previous situations such as the earthquakes which businesses were impacted, where they were, why, and how," Robertson said. "It is different now. We are seeing different businesses in the same industries in the same regions impacted differently. This requires a tailor-made response."
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern ruled out any delay of the planned minimum wage increase.
The Government have already rolled out industry-specific measures for the crayfish and forestry sectors and announced in-principle that it will remove benefit stand-down periods.
There have been five confirmed cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand. About 2000 Kiwis are currently self-isolating.