CEO comment 17 April 2020

18 April 2020

Virginia webThe Prime Minister outlined guidance yesterday on how businesses could operate under reduced alert levels and what measures need to be taken for them to do so.  NZ is still on Level 4, and a decision will be made if we go to Level 3 on 20 April.  The emphasis at Level 3 moves from ‘essential’ services to ‘safe’ services.  The distinction of essential and non-essential will be removed.  At Level 3, a business will be able to operate as long as they comply with Level 3 criteria and all obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.  You can find a summary including risk points and actions to consider when operating a business under Level 3 here.

We are concerned that retailers, bars and restaurants are not able to open if we return to Level 3.  We believe that if these services are able to successfully put appropriate protocols in place to meet the ‘safe’ services, then they should be given the opportunity and responsibility to open.  We will continue to advocate for this directly with Government.  

New guidance has been released about workplace activities at different alert levels.  Information addresses some frequently asked questions as well as examples of what each alert level might look like for different kinds of businesses.  The Workplace operations at covid-19 alert levels are now available here.

We are expecting guidelines on Level 3 to be available from Worksafe on Monday.

We are running a live webinar on moving from alert Level 4 to Level 3 and what it means for your business on Tuesday, 21 April with representatives from Worksafe, BusinessNZ and the EMA.  We will be back to you shortly with a time.

We heard from the Finance Minister the Hon Grant Robertson on Wednesday who provided an update on the Government’s plan to continue responding to covid-19, from the first wave to fight the virus and cushion the blow, to the second wave of kickstarting the economy and the third wave where the Government will look to reset and rebuild the economy.  The Ministers speech is here.  

We continue to work closely with our BusinessNZ network and central Government to advocate on your behalf during covid-19 which has included: 

  • Asking for Government Departments to pay NZ suppliers within 10 days.
  • Requesting further changes to the wage subsidy, including the removal of the $150k cap, and clarification on the part-time payment.
  • The wage subsidy now includes Directors/Shareholders who have not been taking a salary.  If they are working in their business – they can now apply for the wage subsidy.  The WINZ guidance has been updated here under the section on Shareholders.
  • The business loan guarantee scheme.
  • Clarity on essential services
  • Along with the IoD on the Director liability and insolvency – this is new rules while trading while insolvent to ensure a 6-month safe harbour.
  • Identifying manufacturers who can assist with PPE supply
  • Identifying key infrastructure opportunities that are ‘shovel ready’
  • Helping businesses to gain approval to operate where they can meet the covid-19 operating conditions.

We continue to focus on rent relief for businesses and further cash flow support.  We have engaged in a variety of webinars with Ministers and officials on key issues.

We will now await the decision by Cabinet on Monday, 20 April as to what our next steps will be and whether we can move to Level 3.

Please let us know if there is anything that we can assist you with.

As always feedback is welcome.

Ngā mihi nui \ with kind regards,

 

Virginia Nicholls | CEO | www.osea.org.nz

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