Changing alert levels: latest Covid-19 support schemes

Date: 3rd March 2021

empty wanaka road

March 2021: It’s been a full year since we started feeling the economic and social effects of Covid-19. While New Zealand has weathered the storm better than other countries, the ongoing economic uncertainty, coupled with the upheaval from alert level changes, has meant that many businesses are suffering under the strain.

With the change on 28 February from alert level 1 to 3 in Auckland and level 1 to 2 in the rest of the country, some extra government support became available.

We look at what support is currently available to businesses including:

  • An overview of support available at different alert levels
  • Resurgence Support Payment
  • Wage Subsidy
  • Leave Support Scheme
  • Short-Term Absence Payment (STAP)
  • Other government support initiatives
  • Xero Assistance Programme (XAP)

An overview of support available at different alert levels

Business.govt.nz produced this handy reference guide showing the support available at the various alert levels:

All of these Covid-19 support initiatives have eligibility requirements that must be met.  We go into more detail on some of these schemes below.

The Resurgence Support Payment (RSP) is not automatically activated each time the alert level rises from level 1. Generally, the Government will make a decision about activating the RSP if the alert level is raised for at least seven days.

Resurgence Support Payment

The RSP is a payment to help support viable and ongoing businesses due to an alert level increase to level 2 or higher. If your business or organisation is facing a reduction in income due to an alert level increase, you may be eligible. The payment will be available nationally, even if the alert level isn’t increased across the whole country.

On 17 February 2021 the Resurgence Support Payment was activated and eligible businesses can apply if they are affected by the:

  • 14 February alert level increase – apply from now until 22 March
  • 28 February alert level increase – apply from 8 March until one month after the return to alert level 1.

Eligible businesses will receive the lesser of:

  • $1,500 plus $400 per full-time equivalent (FTE) employee, up to a maximum of 50 FTEs
  • four times (4x) the actual revenue drop experienced by the applicant.

To be eligible, businesses must experience a 30% drop in revenue or more, compared with a typical seven day revenue period in the six weeks prior to the increase to alert level 1 – as well as meet a range of other eligibility criteria.

We can apply for the payment on your behalf, or help advise you. Please get in touch.

More about the RSP

Wage Subsidy Scheme

The Wage Subsidy Scheme will be available nationwide if any part of the country moves to alert level 3 or above, for seven days or more. 

Businesses and the self-employed will be eligible if they experience a 40% drop in predicted or actual revenue over a consecutive 14-day period, compared to a typical fortnightly revenue in the six weeks before the rise in alert level. You would need to be able to show that the revenue drop is due to the change in alert level, not just Covid-19 in general.

Applications for the Wage Subsidy March 2021 will be open from 1pm on Thursday 4 March 2021, and payments start from Monday 8 March 2021. 

More about the Wage Subsidy March 2021

Leave Support Scheme

The Leave Support Scheme provides a payment to businesses to pay their workers who meet certain health criteria, eg, they have Covid-19. This is also available if you’re self-employed.

If you, or your staff have been told by a health official to self-isolate and cannot work from home, you can apply for the COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme. This support will be paid as a lump sum covering two weeks (you can reapply if required).

Under changes to this scheme in 2020, businesses are no longer required to show an actual or predicted revenue drop or that their ability to support an employee was negatively impacted by Covid-19, to be eligible to access the payment.

More about the Leave Support Scheme

Short-Term Absence Payment (STAP)

The Short-Term Absence Payment is available at all alert levels to employers to pay workers who follow public health guidance and are staying home while waiting for a Covid-19 test result. It’s also available to eligible self-employed workers.

To be eligible, workers need to be unable to work from home and need to miss work while waiting for the test results.

The payment is $350 for each worker. Employers or self-employed can apply for any worker once in any 30-day period.

More about STAP 

Other government support initiatives

Small Business Cashflow Loans Scheme

Business debt hibernation

Business Finance Guarantee Scheme

Overview of support available – business.govt.nz

Xero Assistance Programme

If you, or your team, need mental wellbeing support, Xero have the Xero Assistance Programme (XAP). It’s available for all Xero customers on Starter, Standard and Premium plans and it provides access to free and confidential counselling support and resources for you, your team and your families.

Xero Assistance Programme

We can help too

Reach out to us if we can help you with applications and eligibility criteria.

Contact us



Posted in: Covid-19, Latest News, mental health, small business