Developments in New Zealand on 14 May - Coronavirus

Jacinda Ardern, Grant Robertson.

New Zealand reported no new cases of the virus today was the third day in a row, the Budget Plans unveiled more support for the response to the pandemic, and businesses had a bittersweet welcome at level 2.

For a third day running, there are no new cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand, and so the total number of confirmed and likely cases remains at 1497, of which 94 percent have recovered. There were no more deaths recorded, the toll is at 21.

Two people with the virus are in hospital-one in Auckland hospitals and one in Middlemore-but none are in intensive care. There was no media conference conducted today to discuss incidents, instead, a statement was sent out by the Ministry of Health.

Previously, the ministry had said that four of the 16 clusters around the country were closed, but today the concept of a closed cluster has been revised, meaning that clusters are no longer closed at this point.

It does not plan to follow the new concept for any of the current clusters until later this month. The ministry has also stated, meanwhile, that it does not have adequate doses of influenza vaccine to meet increased demand from Covid-19.

It said a further 220,000 doses will have arrived in the country by the end of next week, taking the total to 1,768 million-a third more than last year. The Nurses Association has also called for an external inquiry into how seven nurses at the Waitākere Hospital got Covid-19 while caring for the elderly.

Extra funding for Covid-19 response and new bill introduced for MP pay cuts

The government said an extra $36.1b of funding is going to the Covid-19 response and recovery fund in today's Budget announcement, with $15.9b to be spent on the immediate response to kick-start the economy and $20.2b to be set aside for potential investment.

There will also be an eight-week extension to the wage support system for businesses that have experienced a 50 percent drop in turnover 30 days prior to their filing, costing up to $3.2b as opposed to last year.

Budget estimates have included a $400 m tourism sector stimulus package. A growth slowdown is expected in the coming year, with the economy predicted shrinking by 4.6 percent in the year ended June, with growth also shrinking by 1 percent the following year.

But then growth is projected to take root with the economy rising by 8.6 percent in 2022, before averaging 4 percent loosening over the next few years. The projections are based on an assumption by the Treasury that nearly all economic and border entry restrictions related to the pandemic have been eased.

Today, the government would implement a bill allowing elected politicians and senior public officials to obtain a temporary reduction in pay. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern revealed last month that for six months all ministers would take a 20 percent pay cut.

Minister of Public Services Chris Hipkins said the bill would be amending the Remuneration Authority Act. "It will allow the Remuneration Authority to make a temporary determination for a group of top public officials covered by the Act, including MPs and elected local government officials, resulting in a pay reduction of up to 20 percent for six months," he said.

Bittersweet welcome to level 2

This was the country's first day falling to warning level 2, with most companies being able to restart, and employees returning to office spaces.

Yet not all businesses are positive about the future, with two-thirds of Canterbury firms surveyed saying they believe their future remains on a knife-edge due to the impact of constraints Covid-19 has. Leeann Watson, Chief Executive of the Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce, said Level 2 will expose the difference between businesses that would reopen and be able to work at maximum capacity.

At over 100 companies involved in the screen industry in the region, Watson said the revival of the film industry had a role to play in the region's economic recovery. "It will be a fantastic opportunity to benefit some of those industries seriously impacted, not only in the last six weeks but well and truly before that, as we saw a dramatic drop in tourism numbers from around January this year."

New Zealand reported no new cases of the virus today was the third day in a row, the Budget Plans unveiled more support for the response to the pandemic, and businesses had a bittersweet welcome at level 2.

For a third day running, there are no new cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand, and so the total number of confirmed and likely cases remains at 1497, of which 94 percent have recovered. There were no more deaths recorded, the toll is at 21.

Two people with the virus are in hospital-one in Auckland hospitals and one in Middlemore-but none are in intensive care. There was no media conference conducted today to discuss incidents, instead, a statement was sent out by the Ministry of Health.

Previously, the ministry had said that four of the 16 clusters around the country were closed, but today the concept of a closed cluster has been revised, meaning that clusters are no longer closed at this point.

It does not plan to follow the new concept for any of the current clusters until later this month. The ministry has also stated, meanwhile, that it does not have adequate doses of influenza vaccine to meet increased demand from Covid-19.

It said a further 220,000 doses will have arrived in the country by the end of next week, taking the total to 1,768 million-a third more than last year. The Nurses Association has also called for an external inquiry into how seven nurses at the Waitākere Hospital got Covid-19 while caring for the elderly.

Extra funding for the Covid-19 response and new MP pay cuts bill introduced
The government said an extra $36.1b of funding is going to the Covid-19 response and recovery fund in today's Budget announcement, with $15.9b to be spent on the immediate response to kick-start the economy and $20.2b to be set aside for potential investment.

There will also be an eight-week extension to the wage support system for businesses that have experienced a 50 percent drop in turnover 30 days prior to their filing, costing up to $3.2b as opposed to last year.

Budget estimates have included a $400 m tourism sector stimulus package. A growth slowdown is expected in the coming year, with the economy predicted shrinking by 4.6 percent in the year ended June, with growth also shrinking by 1 percent the following year.

But then growth is projected to take root with the economy rising by 8.6 percent in 2022, before averaging 4 percent loosening over the next few years. Jacinda Ardern, Grant Robertson, Winston Peters, and James Shaw go into the House to present the 2020 Budget. Jacinda Ardern, Grant Robertson, Winston Peters, and James Shaw go to the House to present the 2020 Budget.

The projections are based on an assumption by the Treasury that nearly all economic and border entry restrictions related to the pandemic have been eased. Today, the government would implement a bill allowing elected politicians and senior public officials to obtain a temporary reduction in pay.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern revealed last month that for six months all ministers would take a 20 percent pay cut. Minister of Public Services Chris Hipkins said the bill would be amending the Remuneration Authority Act.

"It will allow the Remuneration Authority to make a temporary determination for a group of top public officials covered by the Act, including MPs and elected local government officials, resulting in a pay reduction of up to 20 percent for six months," he said.

This was the country's first day falling to warning level 2, with most companies being able to restart, and employees returning to office spaces. Yet not all businesses are positive about the future, with two-thirds of Canterbury firms surveyed saying they believe their future remains on a knife-edge due to the impact of constraints Covid-19 has.

3 January 2019: Christchurch, New Zealand — New Regent Street in the middle of Christchurch, with outdoor cafes and specialty shops running through it. New Regent Street in Christchurch's center.

Leeann Watson, Chief Executive of the Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce, said Level 2 will expose the difference between businesses that would reopen and be able to work at maximum capacity.

At over 100 companies involved in the screen industry in the region, Watson said the revival of the film industry had a role to play in the region's economic recovery.

"It will be a fantastic opportunity to benefit some of those industries seriously impacted, not only in the last six weeks but well and truly before that, as we saw a dramatic drop in tourism numbers from around January this year."

Over the past two months, Weta Digital has been able to meet all of its project deadlines, including finishing Disney's Mulan last Friday and even scoring two new projects, which have not yet been announced. It had also implemented its own pandemic planning and moved 1500 crew in just over 72 hours to work from home.

Office companies are still working out how to make their spaces work efficiently and abide by the rules, while some hotels are encouraging day rentals for people who fancy a change of scene, but are not yet involved in social interaction.

For the first time since the lockout, Nelson Airport opened its doors this morning to a smattering of passengers, signaling a major step in the revival of domestic travel and air services.

The Prime Minister officially opened its new $32 million terminals last year, but after Covid-19's arrival, revenue had hit with the decline in aircraft movements and the subsequent decrease in income from landing fees.

Some domestic travelers told RNZ they were happy to see their loved ones again before they boarded their flights, while some visitors were sad to leave behind the peace compared to the situation in their home countries.

"I feel like I'm on the first freedom flight!" said one traveler to Wellington. "I 'm going to see my six-month-old nephew, and of course my daughter and her boyfriend, but I really miss the wee boy-I missed some special moments."

Meanwhile, hundreds of pilots laid off since airlines were grounded are now looking for jobs at Auckland 's railways. Another business that took a hit during the lockout was electronics, with revenue losing more than $1bn in April.

The atmosphere had led the franchise owner of Mitre 10 Whangaparāoa to briefly close the store and ask employees to obtain a salary for which a union of workers is now in a halt. Media company Stuff is selling its 20,000 broadband consumer fiber arm for an undisclosed sum to Australian telecommunications company Vocus. Last month, Stuff workers were forced to take a 12-week pay cut due to the effects of the Covid-19 crisis.

New Zealanders stressed but resilient in pandemic response - survey

More than 1000 New Zealanders were surveyed by psychologists at the University of Waikato about the lockdown and pandemic, with most reporting public health issues and coronavirus financial impacts.

"We 'd classify our participants as stressed yet resilient through this initial restrictive process of New Zealand 's response to the Covid-19 pandemic," said senior lecturer Dr Carrie Barber.

Many of those surveyed said they've changed their lifestyle drastically-particularly with work, transportation, and family life. She said most people were concerned, with more than 30 percent experiencing high rates of anxiety and/or depression, particularly about infecting others or losing loved ones.

"Despite this difficult situation, participants identified using largely constructive, successful coping strategies, interacting with whānau and friends, participating in new and old hobbies and activities, and exercising, often with a walk around the neighborhood."

Details of the support package for sports to be released soon.

Minister of Sports and Recreation Grant Robertson said the Government was working on a recovery package for sport early last month. Thursday's announcement of the 2020 Budget confirmed that, alongside confirmation of similar arts support.

"These are both areas which Covid-19 destroyed," Robertson said in his speech to Parliament. "Financial sources have dried up and activities have been canceled, as well as being all industries that have provided employment opportunities and contributed to our economy."

The funding will be on top of the $25 million packages announced last week by Sport New Zealand. The sports recovery package would be based on a report from Sport NZ, which commissioned KPMG, a global accounting firm, to review the financial impact on the sector.

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