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Businesses Encouraged To Factor Support Into COVID-19 Planning

Knowing what support and advice is available for business continuity and staff retention will be critical for Northland businesses should there be a resurgence of COVID-19.
Ministry of Social Development (MSD), Economic Development Manager, Darrell Lambert says the last two events (August, February) have shown that a resurgence of COVID-19 can impact operations at any time, adding that periodic restrictions are very likely ‘the new normal’.
“Business owners will have breathed a sigh of relief that COVID-19 restrictions didn’t carry over to the weekend but they need to plan for ‘tomorrow’, factoring the potential impact of future COVID-19 restrictions into cashflow forecasting, supply chain management and the day-to-day running of their operations.
“Developing a continuity plan that specifically addresses how your business is going to manage a COVID-19 resurgence – starting with how to retain experienced staff - could well be the difference between closing for COVID-19 or closing for good.”
Lambert says identifying what support is currently available from MSD and other agencies, should be central to the planning process. For Northland businesses these include:

· Short-term Absence Payment. Available to help businesses pay employees who can't work from home while they wait for a COVID-19 test result (also available to the self-employed); (https://www.workandincome.govt.nz/covid-19/short-term-absence-payment/index.html)

· Covid-19 Leave Support Scheme. For employers and self-employed people to help pay employees who need to self-isolate and can't work from home; (https://www.workandincome.govt.nz/covid-19/leave-support-scheme/index.html)

· Resurgence Support Payment. Available in the event of a COVID-19 Alert Level increase to COVID level two or higher. Businesses must be able to show a 30 percent drop in revenue or 30% decline in capital-raising ability over a seven-day period at the raised alert level, compared with a typical seven-day revenue period in the six weeks prior to the increase from alert level 1. Apply for the payment from Tuesday 23 February via Inland Revenue (https://www.ird.govt.nz/rsp).

· Covid-19 Small Business Cashflow (loan) Scheme. Provided through Inland Revenue. May be available to eligible businesses for a loan term of five years; (https://www.ird.govt.nz/covid-19/business-and-organisations/small-business-cash-flow-loan)

· Business Travel Document. Businesses needing to travel across alert level boundaries can register with the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) for the Business Travel Document to prove they fit into a permitted activity or have a specific exemption to travel. Login or signup to Business Connect (https://services.businessconnect.govt.nz/);

· Regional Business Partner Network (COVID-19 support). A range of expert advisory services available through Northland Inc. (https://www.northlandnz.com/);

· NorthChamber. Expert business assistance and advocacy is available through NorthChamber (The Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Northland (Inc)); (https://www.northchamber.co.nz/)

· Official COVID updates and other information are available at the CONNECTED and COVID-19 websites (https://www.connected.govt.nz/find-business-support/covid-19-business-assistance/)

(COVID 19.GOVT.NZ https://covid19.govt.nz/business-work-and-money/financial-support/financial-support-for-businesses/#covid-19-short-term-absence-payment).

· COVID-19: Information for businesses. A central resource for business information and the government supports available (https://www.business.govt.nz/covid-19/).
NorthChamber Chief Executive, Steve Smith says the Northland business community and government agencies have worked to ensure businesses get the COVID-19 advice and support they need.

“We appreciate that COVID-19 restrictions have proven difficult for Northland businesses to manage
and have given advice and support to help ease the strain.

“COVID-19 restrictions have changed the way we do business, and the advantage will always go to those who are able to adapt.
“With that in mind, a review of your continuity plan and business strategy is prudent and depending on the impact of a COVID-19 resurgence, a re-think of your existing business model may also be needed,” he said.

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