After 2 weeks at Alert Level 2 this past week saw our cabinet once again review the alert status at Level 2 and the outcome saw two major announcements come out.
The first was that although we remain at Alert Level 2, the number of people who can gather at any one time in a single place will lift at 12 noon on Friday, May 29 from 10 people to 100.
This is significant as many small to medium sized businesses that have been able to continue operating, have returned to work and the hospitality industry saw a number of bars and restaurants reopen. The lifting in the numbers is indicative of the hard work we have done as a team of five million to ensure no new transmissions have occurred and it is safe to gather in larger numbers.
The second major announcement made by the Government this past week was the COVID Income Relief Payment which saw a new temporary payment to support New Zealanders who lost their jobs due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, to adjust and find new employment or retrain.
The COVID Income Relief Payment is being introduced alongside a wider work programme on possible future employment insurance as we rebuild our economy in a way that supports workers and businesses together. The payment will be available for 12 weeks, from June 8, for anyone who has lost their job due to the impact of COVID-19 since March 1. It will pay $490 a week to those who lost full-time work and $250 for part-time work and is not subject to tax.
These are extraordinary times and through our diligence and hard work we will continue to maintain the gains we have made to date, so thank you all to our team of five million New Zealanders.
There was another significant announcement this week for the Bay of Plenty and I would like to wish my parliamentary colleague Todd Muller all the best as he navigates his new role as leader of the National Party and the opposition.
Our Government will continue doing the hard work rebuilding New Zealand and focussing on our economic recovery post-COVID.