23 Mar 2020

Coronavirus: Govt ministers likely to consider more help for businesses

10:45 am on 23 March 2020

Cabinet will today consider more support for businesses to cushion the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic including lifting the cap on wage subsidies, RNZ understands.

Jacinda Ardern, Winston Peters announce $12.1 billion economic relief package.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and deputy PM Winston Peters announcing the $12.1b economic relief package on 17 March. Photo: RNZ

Cabinet is meeting this morning and half the 20 ministers are calling in via video conferencing to maintain some physical distance.

At present, under the government's $12.1 billion economic bail-out package announced last week, firms eligible for support are to be paid $585.50 per week for full-time staff, and $350 for part-time staff.

Payments are capped at $150,000 per business and paid in one lump sum for up to 12 weeks.

There was also $126m to help businesses and employees with people away from work or in self-isolation.

The National Party has called for the cap to be lifted, as at present the package only fully covers businesses with about 20 employees.

Increases to main benefits and to the Winter Energy Payment will kick in on 1 April as part of the support package.

A boost to the minimum wage from $17.70 to $18.90 is expected to go ahead as planned.

See all RNZ coverage of Covid-19.

  • If you have symptoms of the coronavirus, call the NZ Covid-19 Healthline on 0800 358 5453 (+64 9 358 5453 for international SIMs)