Government extends earthquake support to capital businesses inside cordons

By Isaac Davison, Frances Cook

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce said this afternoon that Wellington businesses inside cordons which were unable to move or operate elsewhere could now apply for relief. Photo / John Borren
Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce said this afternoon that Wellington businesses inside cordons which were unable to move or operate elsewhere could now apply for relief. Photo / John Borren

Up to 50 Wellington businesses could get Government support, as earthquake relief packages are extended to the capital.

The Government has announced it is extending the Kaikoura Earthquake relief package, so that Wellington hospitality and retail businesses inside cordons can pay their staff.

The support could last for up to eight weeks. Most of the businesses are based on Molesworth St, Tory St, and near Queensgate Mall in Lower Hutt, where buildings are being demolished or are in danger of collapse.

Mayor Justin Lester said the support was exactly what the council was hoping for.

"Across the city, within cordons, we're talking maybe 40 or 50 businesses that may need relief. But there could be some more, and in the fullness of time we'll see those come through."

Lester said if cordons stay in place across Wellington, the support package could be extended past the current eight weeks.

"I think that is a good start, but it's not the be all and end all.

"You have to remember, of course, that most businesses will have business interruption insurance or similar.

"That's likely to be their first port of call, and will be more beneficial to them than the relief package."

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce said this afternoon that the relief package was for Wellington businesses inside cordons which were unable to move or operate elsewhere.

"The situation in Wellington is different from that in Kaikoura because a state of emergency hasn't been declared, and the city overall is functioning well," Joyce said.

"However, a small number of retail and hospitality businesses have been prevented from trading with the public for an extended period because of the need to demolish buildings."

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley said the subsidy was strictly limited to retail and hospitality businesses which could not physically move to another vacant space. It was not available to businesses with continuity insurance.

The relief package was originally only available to businesses in Kaikoura with fewer than 20 workers. It was later extended to all companies in the region after complaints by larger operators such as Whale Watch Kaikoura.

However, the Government came under further pressure from Wellington business owners who said they were directly affected by the magnitude 7.8 quake.

The Government has set aside $7.5m for quake-related support. So far, 59 businesses have applied and been granted a total of $606,400.

- NZ Herald

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