As the first deadline for assistance to Havelock North businesses affected by the gastro outbreak passes, only 11 businesses have reached out to Hastings District Council.

Earlier this month the council announced $100,000 of financial help for businesses affected financially during the outbreak. This scheme was not designed to provide compensation for losses, as these matters were likely to "turn on issues of eventual legal liability".

Yesterday was the final day Havelock North business owners could apply for financial assistance under the first priority category - "where there is a risk the business may not survive".

Those wanting to apply for "second priority" financial assistance, businesses which have been significantly affected, have until September 23.

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Yesterday a council spokeswoman said she could not state how many of the 11 applications were first priority, or second, as council had confidentiality agreements with businesses. She said it was a sensitive situation for some businesses, and for others there was a "fine line" as to which category they fit.

"Ongoing conversations with some applicants are occurring and the confidentiality around this from their perspective is paramount," she said.

Each application was being dealt with individually, "and if successful, paid to the business as and when processed".

So far, she said there had been 29 requests for Economic Recovery Assistance forms.
Havelock North business owner Liv Reynolds, who fronted for many businesses during the outbreak, said she thought there would be very few businesses who had applied for priority one assistance.

In her earlier discussions with council about businesses seeking assistance, she had put forward around 20 candidates for this category, however said some might not have fit that criteria.

There were also delays in submissions from those applying under second priority for a number of reasons.

"Businesses are being very respectful of the fact that some are requiring more attention than others," she said, adding the delay could also be because some businesses had struggled to fill the assistance forms out.

"Havelock North has really picked up, it's very much heads down, trying to focus on getting to work," she said.

The council website stipulates assistance could come in the form of a cash grant from the council fund, penalty free rates deferment for up to six months with an agreed payment plan, or "potential for low level interest free loans" for up to a year.