Government to extend wage subsidy scheme as businesses face Covid-19 restrictions again

Source: 1News

Jacinda Ardern says the Government will extend the wage subsidy scheme to help struggling businesses facing second round of Covid-19 restrictions.

This evening, the Prime Minister announced Auckland will stay at Alert Level 3 and the rest of the country at Level 2 for 12 days.

Cabinet will review New Zealand's progress on August 21.

It comes as the fresh outbreak of Covid-19 in Auckland is expected to grow. 

The first cases were found on Tuesday - they were the first community transmitted cases in over 100 days. The cluster has today grown to 38.

"I am mindful though of the extraordinary disruption to business and the anxiety that this outbreak will be causing," Ms Ardern said.

"As before we will use what tools we have to protect jobs, income and businesses as well as people's health.

"To provide certainty to businesses and workers, I can confirm today that Cabinet has made an in principle decision to extend the wage subsidy scheme to support businesses and protect jobs as we undertake the public health measures required to fight the virus."

The wage subsidy scheme extension will be nationwide and will cover the period of time that the current alert level restrictions remain in place.

Around $13.1 billion has been paid out to approved Wage Subsidy and Leave Payment Scheme applications up to the week ending 7 August 2020, of which $2.1 billion were under the Wage Subsidy Extension, paid between 10 June and 7 August 2020.

Ms Ardern said Finance Minister Grant Robertson will be working through the details with officials and Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni over the weekend.

Mr Robertson will speak to media later this evening.