Master Builders CE Update: COVID 19 Lockdown Announcement 

23 March 2020

As you’ll be aware, the Prime Minister’s announcement this afternoon is a significant escalation in managing the COVID-19 pandemic and its potential impact to New Zealanders in the coming weeks and months. I want to explain to you what the announcement today means, not just in managing the pandemic, but the effect of the announcement on your businesses, staff, and livelihood. This will be a significant disruption to your businesses in the coming weeks. 

What the PM’s announcement means
The Prime Minister has declared the Government will raise the COVID-19 Alert Level from 2 to 3 today. This means:

  • All non-essential businesses must close on Tuesday for a minimum of 4 weeks
  • The cancelling of all events and gatherings 
  • Schools are closed from tomorrow 
  • Workplaces must implement alternative working with everyone who can to work from home
  • Public transport will transition from being publicly accessible to being available only for those working in essential services, for medical reasons, and to move essential goods – including ferry services between the North and South Island

On Wednesday, the Government will raise the COVID-19 Alert Level to 4, the highest level, which means:

  • Self-isolation, at home for a minimum of 4 weeks for all New Zealanders
  • All schools are closed 
  • No non-essential domestic air travel between regions
  • Public transport for people undertaking essential services and transport of freight only

This stepped approach gives people and businesses time to prepare for a lockdown of everything other than essential businesses and services.

Click here for more information about the different alert levels. 

What’s an essential business and services? 
Essential businesses are those whose roles ensure the life, health or personal safety of people and communities. These include medical, ambulance, fire, and police, those working with critical infrastructure like 3 waters, electricity, and the internet as well as supermarkets. 

Essential building and construction businesses are only those that relate to essential services and the support critical infrastructure needed to maintain human health and safety at home and work. 

Click here for the definition of essential businesses. 

What this means for the building and construction sector
Most of the building and construction sector is non-essential, it means members will need to close their businesses tomorrow. This means:

  • safely securing all sites to meet all health and safety requirements
  • packing up and taking away all tools and other equipment that is easily moveable to reduce the risk of theft

Additional Government assistance
The Government is announcing more support for the economy, workers and businesses as the country unites to prepare for Alert Level 4 in the fight against COVID-19. These are a range of support measures which can help members from tomorrow onwards. 

The Government announced that all businesses now qualify for the wage subsidies, and further work is underway on employee and business support. This means:

  • Lifting of the previous $150,000 cap, so now all employers can access the full payments to subsidise their workers’ salaries 
  • New businesses (less than a year old) and high growth firms (those with significant increases in revenue) are also eligible. 
  • Self-employed people with variable monthly incomes are eligible

To apply for the wage subsidies, click here

In addition:

  • The Government is working on new income support measures for all workers above and beyond the wage subsidy scheme, 
  • The Government, Reserve Bank and banks have agreed in principle to significant temporary support for mortgage holders and a business finance guarantee scheme for those impacted by COVID-19 as the country moves towards Alert Level 4. The details of this will be announced in the next few days.

Please contact the Government agencies to see what type of support you can receive. We recommend getting in touch sooner rather than later to help minimise the disruption to your business as best as possible. For further information about the types of assistance available click here 

There is a lot of uncertainty and concern about what this disruption could mean for members. Master Builders is here to support our members. Over the next few weeks, we will be contacting you, our members, to see how you are. Please also contact us if you have concerns, we are here to help.

Registered Master Builders has a member counselling service so you, and your staff, can get some help if needed during this difficult time. You can call 0800 800 397 at any time and be connected with professional, qualified support. Click here to read more information about it.

Kind regards,

David Kelly