Covid-19 Information for Members
Covid-19 is an illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It’s caused by a type of Coronavirus.
Coronavirus disease spreads primarily through contact with an infected person when they cough or sneeze. It also spreads when a person touches a surface or object that has the virus on it, then touches their eyes, nose, or mouth.
You can keep up with what’s happening globally here >>
Our thoughts are with our members, their families and their staff at this difficult and challenging time. This page covers an overview of the latest updates sent by email to MTA members.
We’ve created the following additional alert pages:
Update 5 October 2020
Auckland moves to Alert Level 1
This afternoon the Prime Minister confirmed that Auckland will move to Alert Level 1 at 11.59pm on Wednesday 7 October.
The PM said it had now been 12 days since a confirmed case associated with the Auckland cluster, and there was "high confidence" it had been contained.
We’re delighted for our Auckland members and their teams.
A reminder that at Alert Level 1 it is still a requirement for businesses to display QR codes.
There are now 2,295,100 users registered on the NZ Covid Tracer. The app has recorded a total of 84,089,165 poster scans, and users have created 3,589,859 manual diary entries.
At Alert Level 1 there are no limits on gatherings and social distancing requirements in restaurants and bars are also removed.
Update 29 September 2020
Covid-19 Commercial Lease Disputes
Many members have faced rental difficulties over the Covid-19 lockdown period where a loss of revenue means they struggled to pay rent to their landlords. While some members have been able to come to an agreement with their landlords, many have not been as lucky.
The Ministry of Justice is now fully funding mediation services between commercial tenants and landlords. Arbitration services will also be subsidised up to $6,000 (incl GST) per dispute. Participants need to fund any remaining arbitration costs up to a maximum of $2,000.
The services are available for disputes about payment or rent where:
- the parties have not previously come to an agreement about payment of rent during the relevant lockdown period
- the tenant has experienced a material loss of revenue during a lockdown period due to Government Covid-19 restrictions (for example, if you have been eligible for the Covid-19 Wage Subsidy or Wage Subsidy Extension).
In addition, at least one party needs to:
- be New Zealand-based, and
- has 20 or fewer full-time equivalent staff per lease site.
This service will be available for six months from 25 September 2020 to the end of March 2021. Both the landlord and tenant will need to agree to take part. There are three approved providers.
For more information about the services, eligibility and how to apply can be found on the Ministry of Justice website >>
Update 21 September 2020
This afternoon the Prime Minister confirmed Cabinet’s decisions regarding New Zealand's current Alert Levels.
Auckland will move to Alert Level 2 from 11.59pm on Wednesday 23 September.
Gatherings of 100 people will be permitted from that time.
Auckland's Alert Level 2 restrictions will be in place for 14 days. Cabinet will then review these settings and a further announcement will be made on Monday 5 October, with the possibility of Auckland moving to Alert Level 1 on Wednesday 7 October.
Face coverings on public transport are still required at Alert Level 2 and on planes when travelling to, from or through Auckland.
Rest of New Zealand:
The rest of the country will move to Alert Level 1 from 11.59pm tonight.
For the rest of New Zealand, face coverings will no longer be mandatory but will be encouraged on planes and public transport.
Update 31 August 2020
ACC annual invoicing
In June we advised members that ACC was delaying all invoicing by three months to help reduce the impact of Covid-19 on businesses,
ACC would normally have sent invoices for the 2020/21 financial year from 1 July, but delayed their invoicing until October. It is now getting ready to prepare the information for those invoices.
For employers and Non-PAYE shareholders those invoices will have two components:
- an actual washup from the previous year
- a provisional based on earnings estimate for the FY20/21 year (Note: Self-employed – sole traders, partners, contractors are charged on actual earnings in arrears).
Given the impact of Covid-19, ACC is strongly encouraging businesses to login to MYACC for Business before the end of September to update their preferred contact and business details.
As an employer, if you are projecting your payroll for this year to be different to last year it is important that you provide an estimate of earnings to ACC as this will ensure a more accurate provisional levy.
All of which can be changed online through the MYACC for Business portal.
If members don’t complete this before the end of September, then an invoice will be generated based on information that ACC already holds for you. If you receive an invoice in October and haven’t updated your details, but believe that they would differ from last year, then you can contact ACC directly after receiving the invoice to amend those details and receive a corrected invoice.
You need to be aware that, unless you are self-employed, any money received from the Government for wage subsidy claims will still count towards income for the purposes of the levy calculations.
ACC will be publicising various payment options – including instalment plan schemes - from October onwards.
For more information about ACC invoicing, click here >>
Covid-19 Leave Support Scheme
The Government’s changes to the Covid-19 Leave Support Scheme also come into effect from today.
To be eligible for the Leave Support Scheme the employer must meet eligibility criteria and have employees who can't work because they have either tested positive for Covid-19, have had contact with someone who has Covid-19, or are at higher risk (or someone in their household is at higher risk) if they get Covid-19 and have been recommended to remain at home.
For further details and to apply click here >>
Business Finance Guarantee Scheme simplified and expanded
The Business Finance Guarantee Scheme (BFGS) has been simplified and expanded to allow banks to make more loans available under the Government’s 80% guarantee.
The Government has increased the cap on loans offered under the scheme tenfold, from $500,000 to $5 million.
It’s also broadened the BFGS to enable businesses to use the loans for purposes beyond cashflow. They can now use the loans for "capital assets and projects related to responding to, or recovering from, the impacts of Covid-19". They can also re-finance up to 20% of their existing debt.
The Treasury website has comprehensive information on the BFGS.
Businesses seeking to access the scheme should contact their bank.
Participating banks are ANZ, ASB, BNZ, Heartland Bank, Kiwibank, SBS Bank, TSB, Bank of China and Westpac.
Update 18 August 2020
A reminder from the HR team
During the raised Alert Levels, remember that employment law still exists.
You cannot reduce wages / hours without an agreement. You need to propose a temporary reduction, seek agreement by the employees, and then confirm any agreement in writing. We have template letters available for exactly this purpose in the Toolbox >>
In general, you cannot force employees to take annual leave to subsidise wages. However, if they have an annual leave balance over 20 days, you can give them 14 days written notice that they need to take the entitlement portion of their annual leave balance. You should discuss a leave reduction plan with the employee before issuing the instruction.
Tap into expert business advice
Small businesses can get help with pressing business problems with the Regional Business Partner Network (RBP).
With extra funding to support small businesses through Covid-19, your local RBP can offer access to expert advice to fit your needs. Examples include:
- cash flow and finances
- HR issues
- health and wellness
- business continuity planning
- digital upskilling.
Update 13 August 2020
Displaying the QR Code Poster
The Government has announced that from 11:59am on Wednesday 19 August all businesses must display a NZ Covid-19 Tracer QR code at each site. Many MTA members will have already organised posters for their sites. If you haven’t, here’s what you need to do.
Up to a maximum of 20 sites?
If you have one to 20 sites you can create a poster for each site using the self-service webform. You will need a valid New Zealand driver licence to use this service.
You need to create a separate poster for each of your sites but can print as many copies of each poster as you need. Print your posters in A4 and in colour (if possible).
The webform is pretty straightforward and the Ministry of Health has produced a short video on how to create a QR code poster.
Note: The video was produced before yesterday’s announcement so don’t be misled by the opening commentary saying businesses are “encouraged” to use the posters. It is mandatory for businesses to display the posters from 11:59am on Wednesday 19 August.
More than 20 sites?
If you have more than 20 sites or do not have a driver licence you can email a completed template to the Ministry of Health. Download the template here >> (Scroll down to the section headed Using the Ministry of Health template if you have more than 20 locations.)
Displaying your poster(s)
Make sure to put your posters on display in prominent locations next to every entrance. If you can, place a poster on the left-hand side of your front window or entrance, with the top approximately 130cm from the ground. The key thing is to make it easy for people to reach without creating an obstruction.
Try not to place your posters on sliding or revolving doors, in narrow or hard-to-see areas, in places with high glare, or in locations that are too high or hard to reach.
Covid-19 Financial Support Tool
A reminder that the Government’s Covid-19 website now features a simple online tool that businesses can use to determine what financial support they can access.
The tool will take you, step by step, through a series of questions to understand your personal circumstances:
- your work status (e.g. employer)
- your situation (e.g. your business is unable to operate)
- whether your workplace has reduced business and revenue.
The tool will then tell you what financial help and support you can access, and where you can apply or find more information.
Details of all the various forms of financial support for businesses can be found on the Covid-19 Financial Support webpage >>
Got questions? Call the Covid-19 business helpline:
- North Island 0800 500 362
- South Island 0800 505 096.
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency has advised it has allowed the re-inspection period to be extended for WoF and CoF (currently 28 days for in-service) and entry certification (currently 21 days from initial inspection) with a ‘stop clock’ system where there is an active Alert Level 3 or 4 in place.
This means the clock stops with the introduction of Alert Level 3 or 4, and the clock restarts again when Alert Level 2 or 1 is reached again.
If a vehicle had seven days left for a recheck when the clock stopped, then the customer has seven days to present the vehicle for a recheck starting on the first day of Level 2 or 1.
Waka Kotahi has also created a Frequently Asked Questions for Alert Level 3 page on its website that may be of assistance to members.
The move back up the Alert Levels is stressful for all of us, as well as our families, staff and customers.
Remember that as an MTA member you and your family, and your employees and their families, have free access to the EAP Counselling Service.
EAP can help with a wide range of issues including stress and pressure at home or work, anxiety, budgeting and financial help.
The service is available 24/7 and completely confidential. MTA simply pays the bill. Accessing the service is as easy as 1-2-3:
- Call 0800 327 669 (available 24/7)
- Press 2
- Tell them you’re an MTA member.
You can find out more about EAP on the Toolbox.