April 6, 2020

COVID-19 Latest updates

COVID-19 Latest updates
Image Credit:
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Last updated 06/04/20 4:37 pm

This page provides updates to the latest COVID-19 news relating to Whanganui businesses. For essential information relating to COVID-19 for your business, head here.

Business Webinars

There are three free webinars for Whanganui businesses coming up this week:

·        Tuesday at 2:30pm: Navigating COVID-19 – Financial Management

·        Wednesday at 2pm: Q&A with Horsley Christie Lawyers

·        Thursday at 2:30pm: Navigating COVID-19 – Communicating in a Crisis

Tuesday and Thursday’s webinars are brought to you by Whanganui & Partners and CEDA. Wednesday’s webinar is by the Whanganui Chamber of Commerce.

For full details and registration, see our Business Webinars page


Google Mobility Data

A new report from Google shows that by 29 March, the Whanganui-Manawatu region saw a 54% drop in people spending time in workplaces compared to a pre-COVID baseline. Nation-wide, there was a 59% drop in people spending time in workplaces.

NZ Mobility Changes

Whanganui Consumer Spend

Consumer spend in Whanganui for the week ending March 29 was down 6.9% from the same week last year. New Zealand-wide, spending decreased by 22.7%.

Business Continuity Webinar

The first in a series of free business webinars delivered through the Regional Business Partners Network was completed on Thursday and is now online.

You can watch the webinar and register upcoming webinars here


Creative Communities

Due to the COVID-19 situation dates for the current Whanganui Creative Communities funding round have been pushed out and will now close 14 May.

Creative Communities Scheme

SOS Cafe

A number of Whanganui businesses are participating in SOS Café,a nation-wide initiative set up by Whanganui-born businessman David Downs to help cafes and restaurant sell gift cards during the lockdown. Gift cards can be redeemed when they re-open and will help provide revenue during this time. 

SOS Cafe


Whanganui & Partners Newsletter

Whanganui & Partners’ latest update has gone out to subscribers with details around the business support available through Whanganui & Partners.

Read it online here

Free Chamber of Commerce Membership

The Whanganui Chamber of Commerce is offering businesses and community organisations three months free membership.

Join now


Business Finance Guarantee

The Government has launched a Business Finance Guarantee Scheme for small and medium-sized businesses. Under the scheme, businesses with annual revenue between $250,000 and $80 million can apply to their banks for loans up to $500,000, for up to 3 years.

Business Finance Guarantee Scheme Launched

Infrastructure Investment

The Government is planning to invest significantly in major infrastructure projects once the country moves into recovery mode and is currently seeking appropriate projects. The projects will be in addition to existing Provincial Growth Fund projects and are intended to address the country’s infrastructure deficit as well as create jobs and buoy the economy.

Government seeks infrastructure projects


Webinars for local business

Whanganui & Partners and CEDA are collaborating on a series of free webinars for business owners. The first in the series will focus on business continuity planning, hosted by Whanganui’s Russell Bell of Balance Consulting.

Business Webinars

Local Business Support    

As part of the Regional Business Partner (RBP) network, Whanganui & Partners has a team member dedicating to providing business support. This support may be especially valuable to businesses during the pandemic and includes:

  • Connecting you to professional service providers to assist you with the issues that you are facing e.g. cash flow management, business continuity management.  
  • Provide you with relevant and up to date information on how and where to access Government support including navigating the Wage Subsidy Scheme, and the recently announced Business Finance Guarantee Scheme.  
  • Assist Māori businesses on Government support available.    
  • Provide you with an experienced Business Mentor to provide additional guidance over the next 12 months. Business Mentors come with specific skills and are matched depending on your needs.    
  • Facilitate funding for Research and Development including project grants.  

To access these services, register at regionalbusinesspartners.co.nz.

Manufacturing, Commercial & Logistics Support

Whanganui & Partners’ Strategic Lead – Manufacturing, Commercial & Logistics, Rhonda Morris, is currently supporting the emergency effort as part of the Civil Defence team, after which she’ll move on to a new role at MediaWorks. Rhonda was a great asset to our team, and we want to thank her for all the great work she did at Whanganui & Partners. We look forward to working with her in her new position.

Support for manufacturing, commercial and logistics sectors will now be handled by Tim Easton.

Essential Goods Update

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has updated its definition of essential goods to include those that will keep people warm (heaters, blankets), replace key household appliances, and maintain people’s health.

MBIE: Public to be able to access essential good during shutdown

Changes to Wage Subsidy

On Friday, the Central Government announced some changes to the Wage Subsidy scheme, including wrapping Leave Payment into the Wage Subsidy. For details, please see MSD’s COVID-19 page.

MSD: COVID-19 Wage Subsidy  

Support for Whanganui Creatives

The cancellation of Artists Open Studios as well as the Auckland Art Fair reflects the loss of two important revenue streams for Whanganui artists. To support our local artists during this time, Emma Bugden has joined the Whanganui & Partners team as Strategic Lead – Arts and Creative Industries.

Artists facing a loss of income due to the pandemic are encouraged to apply for the Wage Subsidy, and Creative New Zealand has developed a comprehensive FAQ around the support available.  

Creative NZ COVID-19 FAQs

The below Facebook page is a good source of news and support for NZ artists during the pandemic.

Aotearoa Arts and Events during the COVID-19 Crisis Facebook page

Face Masks Made in Whanganui

Over the weekend, the Prime Minister shared a video of a factory in Whanganui producing face masks that protect essential service workers. A strong manufacturing sector has always played an important role in our local economy, and we’re proud to see our businesses and workers is playing an important role in the pandemic response.

Whanganui-made medical supplies

Whanganui Consumer Spend

From 16-22 March, Whanganui consumer spend was up on the previous year by 16.6%. This was driven by a 54.1% increase on food, liquor and pharmacy spending. Across New Zealand, spending increased by 10.1% on the previous year.

Primary Industries' Registration as Essential Services

MPI is asking businesses to be registered as essential services by 5:00pm on Friday 27 March 2020. To see if you need to register and to complete the registration, please see the MPI link below.

MPI: Register for safe practice

Wage Subsidy and Leave Payment

For information on the support available to employers and how to apply, visit the Ministry of Social Development’s COVID-19 page.

Need to talk to someone local about the wage subsidy and leave payment package? MSD’s local team can help you:

COVID-19 employer support

Creative NZ Update

Creative New Zealand has released advice on currently funded projects that have been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Advice about currently funded projects

Infometrics Economic Outlook

Our friends at Infometrics have been sharing regular information about the economic outlook, including a webinar touching on the impact that will likely be felt across different sectors due to the pandemic. Some issues of interest to our district include:

  • The agriculture export outlook looks favourable: weekly trade data from Statistics NZ shows dairy has recovered significantly as activity returns to the Chinese market. A lower NZD will support our export market and a global demand for high-quality food is likely to remain.  
  • International tourism, which brought in $12.8 billion last year, is unlikely to recover to its pre-pandemic levels. With Level 2, 3 or 4 restrictions, domestic tourism cannot operate, but there was $9.5 billion spent overseas by Kiwis travelling last year that can potentially be captured by the domestic market when the pandemic subsides.
  • Infometrics’ analysis of regional exposure to downturns in primary industries and tourism shows our wider region has limited exposure to the downturn in tourism.
  • Infometrics estimates that 56.8% of Whanganui’s workforce will be able to continue operating during the lockdown either through alternative working arrangements or as essential services. 53.0% of the overall New Zealand workforce will be able to continue operating.
  • Unemployment could rise to 10-11% as businesses struggle to keep cashflow going. Tempering this is the government’s wage subsidy, but there remains a gap between the subsidy and the average wage. Typically, economic downturns hit youth and Māori employment disproportionately hard.
  • Infometrics is expecting a 5-10% drop in house prices. Areas that were well-supplied and still had high prices will be the most susceptible to a shock.
  • Infometrics offers their thoughts on economic rational of the shutdown

NZ International Commercial Pilot Academy

The NZICPA reports it is in a strong position to weather the economic impact of COVID-19, with enough students currently in the country to operate through March 2021.

International pilot students on strict lockdown in Whanganui

Upokongaro Bridge

The Upokongaro Bridge, which forms part of the Mountains to Sea Cycle Trail, has been put in place across the Whanganui river.

Upokongaro cycle bridge launched across Whanganui River

Business Finance Support

The Business Finance Guarantee Scheme will provide short-term credit to cushion the financial distress on solvent small and medium-sized firms affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

Mortgage holiday and business finance support schemes to cushion COVID impacts

Tax Relief for Businesses

If you're experiencing a downturn in business due to COVID-19, the IRD has a range of ways to help depending on your circumstances.

Tax relief for businesses

Support for the Creative Sector

Creative New Zealand has announced its Emergency Response Package in response to COVID-19 will include a first phase $16 million investment to buffer and support the arts community.

Creative New Zealand's first phase COVID-19 response

Alert Level Raised

New Zealand has moved to Alert Level 3, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today. On Wednesday 25/03/20 at 11:59pm, New Zealand will move to Level 4.

Update from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern

Ensure you are clear on whether you are considered to be an essential business:

Essential Businesses

Innovation Quarter Closed

Due to COVID-19, the Innovation Quarter, which is the workplace for Whanganui & Partners, the Whanganui Chamber of Commerce, 100% SWEET and Te Manu Atatu, is closed. The team will be working remotely at this time. You can contact Whanganui & Partners via phone, email or Facebook.

Phone: 06 349 3119

Email: info@whanganuiandpartners.nz

Facebook: /whanganuiandpartners

Whanganui i-SITE Closed

Due to COVID-19, the i-SITE is temporarily closed to the public. You can still make enquiries or bookings by contacting the i-SITE via phone, email or Facebook.

Phone: 0 800 926 426

Email: info@visitwhanganui.nz

Facebook: /isitewhanganui


All events are now postponed.

Together with organisers, further details will be provided on new timings once the alert level reduces.

Event applications may still be submitted but decisions on funding will not be made at this time.

Support for Māori Communities and Businesses

The Government has developed a plan to support Māori communities and businesses in the face of COVID-19. This includes a whole of government approach to providing health, social and economic support tailored to meet the specific needs of Māori.

Supporting Māori communities and businesses

Local Consumer Spend

Consumer spend data from February in Whanganui showed a strong result of being +9.1% on February 2019 (note that there was an extra day in February 2020. The national average increase was 6.0%).

Whanganui Consumer Spend


Tourism Network Group

Whanganui & Partners has set up a private Facebook group for local businesses and individuals working in the visitor sector. This forum will serve as an informal venue for information sharing and conversation around issues affecting the visitor industry. To be apart of it, follow the link below and request to join.

Visitor Industry Whanganui Facebook Group


Economic Relief Package

The Central Government has announced a $12.1bn economic relief package. Read more about the details of the package, which includes a wage subsidy scheme, leave and self-isolation support, business cash flow and tax measures, and check it you or your business qualifies for support. If you think you do but need assistance accessing that support, Whanganui & Partners may be able to help through our Regional Business Partners Network.

Economic Relief Package

Unite Against COVID-19

The Central Government has set up a dedicated COVID-19 website. This is a comprehensive resource with information for everyone, including businesses, visitors and the community.

Unite Against COVID-19


Support for aviation sector

As part of their economic relief package, the Central Government is putting $600 million towards support for the aviation sector. Air Chathams is Whanganui's airline and Whanganui & Partners supports the Air Chathams team during this challenging time for the aviation industry.

Pandemic aid for aviation

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