Covid-19 Information for OBA Members

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The team at Onehunga Business Association are doing our best to support our members during this period of unprecedented change.  If you are a member, please find below information that you need to know to for your business and resources that you may find useful as you work through the new challenges that the Covid-19 pandemic has brought about.  We strongly encourage you to make use of these resources.

Business.govt.nz advice: Workplace premises accessed by the public or customers

For example: retail, hospitality, hairdressers, entertainment venues and gyms.

In all cases, the applicable public health measures must be followed.

Alert Level 2 Alert Level 3
Supermarkets can open. Supermarkets can open.
Dairies can open. Dairies can open, but must operate a one-in-one-out policy.
Petrol stations can open. Petrol stations can open, but must operate a one-in-one-out policy.
Hardware and DIY stores can open. Hardware and DIY stores can operate and sell all of their goods to any customers via contact-less delivery or pick-up.
Agricultural supply stores and pet stores can open.

Animal and pet care services, such as dog walking and pet grooming, can operate.

Agricultural supply stores and pet stores can offer contactless delivery or drive-through.
Clothing stores can open. Clothing stores can operate through contactless delivery or pick-up. They cannot have physical storefronts open to the public.
Bars, cafes and restaurants can open, subject to physical distancing and conditions on gatherings (e.g. no more than 100 people indoors) being met. Bars, cafes and restaurants can offer contactless delivery or collection of food and non-alcoholic drinks. They can also operate drive-throughs. They cannot have physical storefronts open to the public, and customers cannot dine on-site.
Entertainment and tourist facilities (such as cinema, theatres, art galleries, mini golf, arcades, bungee jumping, or bowling alleys) can open, subject to physical distancing and conditions on gatherings (e.g. no more than 100 people indoors) being met. Entertainment and tourist facilities cannot open.
Licenced supermarkets can sell alcohol. Other alcohol off-licence holders can also sell alcohol. Sellers must meet all requirements of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act. Licensed supermarkets and the liquor stores in the four Licensing Trust areas with a monopoly can sell alcohol. Open liquor store premises must operate with a one-in-one-out rule.

Only off-licence holders whose license says they can sell and deliver alcohol, can do so through contactless delivery and pick-up. All requirements of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act, licence conditions/restrictions, requirements for remote sales and limit on quantity of spirits to be sold apply.

General retail stores (e.g. selling books, toys, or sports goods, charity and second-hand stores) can open.

Second-hand stores should pay attention to cleaning guidance.

General retail stores can operate, as long as they deliver goods or offer contact-less pick-up. They cannot have physical storefronts open to the public.
Shopping centres/malls can open. Shopping centres/malls can only open to allow access to essential services like supermarkets and pharmacies.
Hairdressers, barbers, nail salons and non-medical massage services can open. Hairdressers, barbers, nail salons and non-medical massage services cannot open.
Exercise facilities and classes (e.g. gyms, yoga studios and dance school) can open. Exercise facilities and classes can offer lessons remotely (e.g. by video), but cannot open their premises.

Alert Level Two

New Zealand is now operating at Alert Level Two. Businesses who can operate safely under strict public health guidelines will be able to open to the public. This includes things like physical distancing, contract tracing, hand hygiene, and sanitisation of frequently touches services.

Retail NZ has an excellent piece for businesses looking to operate at Alert Level Two.

Below are some Golden rules for businesses at Alert Level Two:

  1. Covid-19 is still out there. Play it safe.
  2. All businesses can operate if they can do so safely. Alternative ways of working are still encouraged where possible.
  3. Talk with your workers to identify risks and ways to manage them.
  4. Ask everyone, workers, contractors and customers, with cold or flu-like symptoms to stay away from your premises.
  5. Keep groups of customers one metre apart.
  6. Keep contact-tracing records of anyone who will have close interaction (workers, contractors or customers).
  7. Reduce the number of shared surfaces, and regularly disinfect them.
  8. Wash your hands. Wash your hands. Wash your hands.

What Alert Level Two means for Retail and Hospitality

All retailers can now reopen under Alert Level Two but social distancing will be required in store for both staff and customers and good hygiene practices will need to be implemented with regular cleaning of surfaces and things people touch often.

Larger retailers and shopping malls are required to follow the lead of supermarkets with measures like limiting the number of people in store to enable enough space for physical distancing.

These rules will also affect the hospitality industry and the Prime Minister has recommended an approach dubbed the three S’s. This involves ensuring that customers have seats, can be separated safely from others and that every table has a single server.

Customers should not be allowed to go to the counter to pay after a meal at their local restaurant, payment should be taken at the table.

Contract tracing requirements

All businesses and organisations (except retailers) are required to record the details of all people’s movements on their premises including staff, customers and visitors.  This is important to be able to quickly identify and find the people who have come into close contact with someone who has Covid-19.  

The Ministry of Health has developed the NZ Covid Tracer app to help the public log and track which businesses and organisations they have visited, and who they have come in contact with. 

Businesses and organisations can support the app by registering with Business Connect to generate QR code posters to display at their premises.

Using the app is voluntary, but it helps contact tracing become faster and more effective, which is an essential part of stopping the spread of Covid-19 in New Zealand.

Another option is Tracee, which has a few points of difference from the NZ Covid Tracer app.  Visitors don’t need to download an app to sign in, they simply use their device camera to scan a location’s code and then their sign-in is automatically loaded on the web. Following someone’s first visit at any business using Tracee, their device will remember the details. Tracee can be adapted to individual businesses and has a monthly subscription charge.

Alert Level Three

If your business cannot safely operate at Alert Level Two, you will need to operate at Alert Level Three.  The Employers and Manufacturers Association has an excellent piece for businesses operating under Level Three: Covid 19 Level Three Important Announcement. Take a look at this page which has risk assessment templates, registers and Covid-19 induction information for employees.  

Under Alert Level Three all businesses that are permitted to resume operations need to have a Covid-19 safety plan that sets out how they’ll operate safely.  You can find a Covid-19 safety plan template here.  For businesses operating as an essential service under Alert Level Four, a Covid-19 safety is not required.

Support for business to move into contactless collection, delivery and online business

FREE digital assessment

ATEED have launched a free tool that helps businesses build a customised digital action plan and find out about digital technology that can help your business right now. Get information and tools to help use cloud-based software for remote working and e-commerce, boost your online presence, and make it easier for customers to find you.

Creating contactless selling

There are many options for retail and hospitality to move into contactless selling for collection or delivery. It’s hard to know where to start. A few well regarded New Zealand sites for you to review include:

Swiftly – Fully contactless and all free

Regulr app – phone app for hospitality 

Luk app – online/mobile app for hospitality and retail

Business Advice

Support for small businesses

The Government will provide loans of up to $100,000 to help businesses, including contractors and self-employed, tackle their cash flow. This applies to businesses who employ 50 or less employees. This is a 100% government lending scheme. The loans are for $10,000 per business plus $1,800 for each equivalent full time employee.  Applications are open from 12th May to 12th June 2020 and can made made through myIR.

The scheme is for a maximum of five years and payments are not required for the first two years. However, if the loan is paid back within one year the loan will be interest free. Outside of this the interest rate for up to five years is 3%. This scheme has the same criteria as the wage subsidy scheme but businesses will also need to declare that they’re a viable business and that the money will be used for core operating costs. There will be an audit process led by IRD. It is initially open for applications for one month.

Find out if you qualify and how to apply here.

Employer Wage Subsidy Scheme

Open to employers who have experienced a minimum 30 per cent loss in revenue due to Covid-19.

Businesses must pass on at least the whole value of the subsidy to each affected worker if it isn’t possible to pay employees at least 80 per cent of their pre-Covid 19 wage.  Businesses must also keep their employees in a job for the period of the subsidy (12 weeks).  Find more information click here.

Don’t be intimidated by the process of applying for the subsidy. It’s very easy, just a three-step process.

• Employers apply here
• Self-employed workers apply here 

For any questions on the wage subsidy call the Auckland Business Chamber Covid-19 helpline on 0800 543 543.  You may also find this video helpful.  

Extended wage subsidy

The Covid-19 wage subsidy is being extended and applications open 10 June 2020.  Eligible businesses will need to reapply through Work and Income once their current 12-week subsidy has come to an end.

The weekly rates will be the same as under the current wage subsidy, and will provide an 8-week lump sum payment per named employee. The Wage subsidy extension must be used to pay employees’ wages and receiving it does not change existing employment law obligations.

The Wage subsidy extension will be open to the same types of employers currently eligible for the wage subsidy, including contractors, the self-employed and sole traders.

Businesses must have experienced a minimum 50% decline in actual or predicted revenue over the 30-day period immediately prior to applying for the extension, versus the nearest comparable period last year. There are different calculations for organisations where this is not possible, such as new businesses or pre-revenue firms.

For more information visit Work and Income

Do you need to vary employment terms?

Under normal circumstances, if you want to vary someone’s terms of employment you consult (approximately 1 week) and then you give notice as per their employment agreement about when the changes will come into effect.  If you consulted about what payments were to be made for the first 4 weeks of lock down, that expired Thursday 23rd April 2020.  So, the normal notice periods were not achievable.  

After the first 4 weeks of lock down you needed to consult with your employees about any temporary changes to pay and conditions over the balance of the 12 week subsidy period. HRtoolkit have developed a free Covid-19 – 12 week variation letter template

At approximately 6 to 7 weeks into the subsidy period (i.e. sufficient time for you to consult and give proper notice before the end of the 12 weeks period) you will need to consult with your employees about any permanent changes to their terms of employment. 

It is important to very clearly demonstrate (and keep records of) the best endeavours you have made to keep higher levels of pay higher e.g. cutting costs, and exploring potential new avenues to put the company in good stead for the future.

Do you need to close your business for good?

We sincerely hope that this doesn’t eventuate for any of our member businesses but it is a harsh reality that there may be some businesses for whom there will be no recovery from this situation.  In this case, employment law dictates that you still need to consult with your employees about closing the business and any redundancies and also consider how you deal with the subsidy payment.  HRtoolkit have developed a template to deal with that this.

It is important to be very sure that you have made best endeavours and that you can evidence this before taking this course of action as well as being very open with your employees about exactly what you have done to prevent this outcome.  Also payments in the event of redundancy need to be carefully considered.

Leases and rental agreements

Many commonly used forms of commercial lease contain rent relief provisions, allowing tenants to negotiate a ‘fair’ rent and outgoings reduction. Disputes around what is ‘fair’ are creating issues for both landlords and tenants, with some tenants refusing to pay any rent and some landlords refusing to allow any rent relief.

For those parties who are uncertain what their rights are, the New Zealand Dispute Resolution Centre is offering speedy resolution options with reduced cost fixed fee mediation and arbitration services.  See more information here or phone 0508 347 7883. 

For common questions and answers on retail tenancies in a time of Covid-19 see here.

Work from home allowance

Businesses whose employees worked from home during Lockdown have the option to pay their employees a work-from-home allowance which they can claim back from the IRD as a business expense.  For more information,  visit Inland Revenue.

Have you got other questions?

Panuku has contacted Aro Advisers to prepare some blogs about some of the tricky questions including taxation and the Government Business Finance scheme. Visit their blog for more information

FREE webinars 

Free webinars from the EMA in partnership with ATEED and the Regional Business Network focus on:

  • Health and safety approach to Level 3
  • Medical Absence / Covid-19 as an illness
  • Rebooting capability and capacity – enabling your people to drive innovation
  • Rebuilding customer base – rethinking channels, storyline and pipeline
  • Wellbeing – mental health (for both employees and employers)
  • Managing employee leave
  • Retention and deployment
  • How the banks can help businesses and people during the Covid-19 pandemic
  • Restructure and redundancy

Panuku Development Auckland ran the following free webinars:

  • Covid-19 and your small business
  • Starting at full speed – practical advice to get your business moving

The Icehouse brings you the following free webinars covering:

  • How to pivot your business, a design thinking guide
  • Being a leader worth following
  • Changing consumer behaviour in a post Covid world
  • Real-time resilience
  • Communicating in times of crisis
  • Employment advice and guidance
  • Covid-19 financial guidance

FREE business mentors

The Auckland Business Chamber are offering businesses a FREE mentor until the end of June 2020. Call 0800 543 543 to find out more.

Tax penalties

Inland Revenue will write-off any penalties and interest for businesses unable to pay taxes on time due to the impact of Covid-19.  You do not need to worry about contacting Inland Revenue now.  Get in touch with them when you can.  Read more.

Mental health

If you are concerned about your employees or your family’s mental health then a good place to start is with Mentemia where you can build happier, healthier, more resilent teams.

Covid-19 Signage, Equipment and Cleaning Suppliers

There are several local businesses that can supply you with a range of Covid-19 signage, graphics, safety equipment, cleaning supplies and services to help your business operate safely and hygienically at Alert Level Two as listed below:

  • One Print – contact Graeme on 027 202 7017 or graeme@oneprint.co.nz
  • Original Print – contact Sangita on 021 981 779 or sangita@originalprint.co.nz
  • Onform Signs – view their safety catalogue here or phone 0800 744 6243
  • Jim’s Cleaning – contact Deonn Handyside on 022 515 7158 or deonn.handyside@jimscleaning.co.nz  
  • Frontline Cleaning Equipment and Hygiene Supplies – to place an order visit their website or phone 0800 37 66 85   

Business Resources

ATEED have created this Business Resources page. It covers practical topics to help you right now like:

Best sources for businesses on up-to-date Covid-19 information 

  • Business.govt.nz is the government’s central resource for Covid-19 business information  
  • Unite against Covid-19 website set up by the NZ government providing all up to date information on Covid-19
  • NZTE has specific advice for exporters along with teams based in China and other affected markets. NZTE can answer export and supply chain queries
  • Worksafe offers advice on how to care for your staff and obligations under New Zealand health and safety legislation
  • EMA provides information and advice for employers and manufacturers
  • Auckland Chamber provides information and support for businesses across the region
  • Retail NZ offers advice to retail businesses and links to government support

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