The government has provided the following update for business:
About the new Covid Protection Framework
The new Covid Protection Framework (CPF) will support us to keep people safe and minimise the impacts Covid-19 has on businesses and our day-to-day lives. It provides guidance on how we will control any outbreaks, while allowing a high degree of personal freedom and a return to more usual economic and social activity. It will provide clarity, enable more activity, and help us all to plan ahead.
When we have reached the 90% vaccination target, the current Alert Level system will be replaced by the new framework.
The framework has three levels:
- Green is when there is some Covid-19 in the community.
- Orange will be used to control spread at low levels when it is present in the community.
- Red will be used to actively bring case numbers down if needed.
Different parts of the country may be at different levels. We can move up and down the levels. Across all levels, there can be targeted local lockdowns to help stop very localised spread.
A highly vaccinated population allows us to open up domestically. Recognising the protections vaccination offers us, at all levels of the CPF vaccinated people will have greater freedoms than those who aren’t vaccinated. In many cases, this might mean people will need to provide vaccination certificates to enter businesses or attend events, or even to travel between regions. At all levels of the new framework, businesses, retail, public facilities and schools will generally be able to remain open for vaccinated people.
The CPF will allow us to open up internationally. It is the next step on the pathway to reopening our borders and reconnecting people and businesses with the world, as high vaccination levels mean we will not have to rely so much on a tight border to keep cases out. People will be able to isolate at their home or accommodation, reducing our need to rely on MIQ.
We won’t move to the CPF until it is sufficiently safe to do so, until we’re sure our vulnerable communities aren’t put at risk, and until we are ready. We will stick with the current Alert Levels until then and continue to do the preparation work necessary for this change.
Work is underway to develop detailed information about CPF. Cabinet will review vaccination progress on 29 November and further announcements will follow.
Business Support package
The Government will boost payments to businesses affected by higher alert levels as the country transitions to the new Covid-19 Protection Framework.
Ministers have agreed to significantly boost the Resurgence Support Payment (RSP). After the next scheduled payment on 29 October, we will move to fortnightly payments at double the current rate. The enhanced support will first be paid on 12 November and fortnightly thereafter until Auckland is able to move into the new framework.
Currently the RSP is paid at a base rate of $1,500 per eligible business and $400 for each full-time employee up to a total of $21,500.
For the payments starting on 12 November this will be $3,000 per business and $800 per FTE, up to 50 FTEs. This will make the maximum fortnightly payment $43,000.
The enhanced RSP will be available until Auckland moves into the new framework. The Wage Subsidy will continue to be available on the current criteria while areas of the country are still in Alert Level 3.
Because businesses will be able to operate at all levels of the framework, the wage subsidy and the RSP will be reworked to a new targeted payment at the RED level of the new framework.
In addition, Ministers have agreed in principle that there will be a transition payment made available to support businesses when they move into the new framework. Ministers have agreed a $60 million package for business advice and mental health support will be made available to help Auckland businesses through this transition period. Businesses will be able to apply for up to $3,000 worth of advice and planning support, and then receive up to $4,000 to implement that advice through the established Regional Business Partners programme. As part of the package, $10 million is available for mental health and wellbeing support through a programme to be designed with the EMA and Auckland Business Chamber of Commerce.
Final details of the support to be provided under the new framework will be agreed in November.
Covid Vaccination Certificates (CVC)
Later this year everyone in New Zealand will be able to access a scannable QR code as proof of vaccination and Covid-19 test results. The use of vaccination certificates in a domestic setting provides businesses/organisations with more certainty around when they can operate at the different framework settings and whether there are capacity restrictions.
People may be required to show proof of vaccine in a range of public settings such as events, hospitality, retail, community, sport, and faith-based gatherings. Businesses, events, organisations, community, and a range of sectors may legally implement a vaccination entry requirement for customers.
Everyone must be able to have access to essential services like supermarkets, pharmacies, health services, food banks and petrol stations without having to show proof of vaccine status. There are options in place for people who do not have a smartphone or access to a computer.
There are very few people that are unable to get a vaccine due to medical grounds. An exemption process is in place for these people to obtain certification. For children under the age of 12, there is no requirement to show proof of vaccination.
Should a business/organisation not wish to request proof of vaccine, they will have to operate with strict limits on capacity and space requirements. They may need to close in Orange and/or Red levels.
Detailed guidance is being developed for a range of sectors and we are engaging with them closely on the requirements within the framework, as well as verification of vaccines.
We are actively considering how the framework will affect vaccination requirements for workers.
Generally, a worker does not need to disclose their vaccination status to a business if it isn’t directly required for their work. If work cannot be done by an unvaccinated worker, a business can ask the worker about their vaccination status. If the worker does not disclose (or provide evidence about) their vaccination status, the business may assume the worker has not been vaccinated for the purposes of managing health and safety risks. However, businesses should first inform workers of this assumption, and what will happen if the worker is not vaccinated or does not disclose their vaccination status.
Employees cannot be redeployed or disadvantaged for refusing to disclose their vaccination status.
Some workforces have mandates which mean employees must be vaccinated. The education sector, including early learning teachers and support staff at education facilities, are required to be fully vaccinated by 1 January 2022. This does not yet include the tertiary sector. It’s important for teachers and staff to be vaccinated as it provides further protection for our tamariki, particularly those that are unable to be vaccinated (under 12 years of age).
High-risk workers in the health and disability sector must be fully vaccinated by 1 December 2021 and receive their first dose by 30 October 2021.
Border workers, including maritime border and MIQ staff, are also required to be vaccinated and were the initial cohort in the vaccination rollout.
Corrections now require all prison staff, including health staff, and psychologists in prisons and in the community, to be fully vaccinated by 1 December 2021.
Further detail on implementation of COVID-19 Vaccination Certificates, including any primary legislation to enable anticipated use.
Further detail developed on progress for the transition plan for Auckland and the rest of New Zealand.
Further advice developed on new testing, tracing and isolation strategies.
Further advice developed on potential new approach to economic supports.
Further work on a revised approach to welfare and community-based supports.
Work continues in operational readiness for a switch to the new approach and its new implementation.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions or require assistance.
Stay safe and keep well.
The NZSA team.