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Omicron support welcomed by industry body

BusinessNZ has welcomed yesterday’s announcement of financial support for businesses during the Omicron outbreak.

BusinessNZ Chief Executive Kirk Hope says it’s encouraging to see more support from Government and a signal from the Prime Minister as to when restrictions may begin to ease, once Omicron has peaked.

“These are positive signs for business, and useful while planning ahead. But it’s crucial the Government continues to monitor the impact of existing restrictions on business and provide additional support when needed. To be eligible for support, businesses must prove a 40 percent drop in revenue in seven consecutive days, within the six weeks prior to the shift to Phase 2 (February 15), compared to seven days after that date.”

The industry body says that Government needs to ensure these rules won’t exclude businesses with already low trading due to the cumulative effects of Covid-related restrictions.

Industries like hospitality, retail and tourism have endured two years of decimated revenue now due to various forms of lockdown and restrictions. 

“For those who have survived, it’s important they can actually access support.

“Changes are also being made to the Small Business Cashflow Loans Scheme so eligible businesses can access a top up loan which allows an additional $10,000 draw down, with five years to repay.

Inland Revenue has been granted flexibility for tax payment dates and terms to assist businesses with cashflow pressures too.

“I encourage all businesses to look into what’s available and make the most of the support they’re entitled to,” Hope says.

The news comes just days after retailers are called Government to revive its Covid-support schemes for the sector as they plunge into a “deep financial and confidence crisis” amid the Red Alert Level in the country.

“We have asked the Government to take urgent steps to reintroduce the Wage Subsidy and the Resurgence Support Payment. Alternatively, we are keen to work with the Government and officials to create a package that can support the sector,” Retail NZ chief executive Greg Harford told HRD.

According to the Chief Executive, average sales among retailers are down 32% nationally. However, one-third of its members said they are seeing sales down by 40%, while 12% of retailers said their sales are down by between 60% and 90%.

Read more: What the Omicron outbreak means for your retail business

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