Businesses which employee essential workers most susceptible to Covid-19 will be given Government funding to make sure their employees are able to take paid leave.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who announced the scheme this afternoon, said that no essential worker should feel pressured into working if they're vulnerable, sick or otherwise unable to work.

"This is to ensure that any essential front line workers who are vulnerable are now supported to be at home."

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This includes those over 70 or anyone with underlying health conditions which make them more susceptible to Covid-19.

This was one of a number of announcements Ardern made this afternoon, including a new Government WhatsApp channel to help distribute Covid-19 information and details of how foreign nationals trapped in New Zealand will be getting home.

She was also critical of German owned-Bauer media – which publishes magazines such as Woman's Day, the Listener and Metro – which announced it was closing its doors in New Zealand this morning.

Although "gutted" the publications will no longer be around in New Zealand, Ardern was critical of the fact the publication didn't take advantage of the wage subsidy scheme.

She said the wage subsidy "could and should" have made a difference to the staff.

Her comments this afternoon come after Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield revealed there were 89 new cases of Covid-19 – the highest one-day increase to date.

He said this showed New Zealand was not "flattening the curve".

Speaking at her now daily media briefings, Ardern said it was critical to support front line essential workers across the country.


"We need to ensure that they [essential workers] have the ability to take leave and are not feeling pressured to come to work in they're vulnerable, sick or otherwise unable to work."

The scheme means that essential workers, such as nurses and supermarket workers, will be able to continue to receive an income while they away from work on leave.

According to Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford there are 750,000 workers considered essential across the country.

Businesses will be paid out $585.80 per week for a fulltime employer, and $350.00 per week for part time workers, to help pay the susceptible staff on leave.

This is the same amount as the wage subsidy scheme.

The scheme goes live on Monday.


Ardern also had good news for foreign nationals in New Zealand, who have been unable to return home – the Government has an exit plan.

Foreign governments will be allowed to charter flights to New Zealand to pick up their citizens.

Commercial capacity between New Zealand and Europe will be increased by New Zealand approving a second daily flight between Doha and Auckland by Qatar Airways.

The Prime Minister was also keen on commenting on Bauer's "fairly abrupt" New Zealand shutdown.

She said she wanted to make clear the fact that the Government "actively sought to assist Bauer" though the wage subsidy scheme.

Bauer, however, rejected this offer.


"This appears to have been a decision that has been made that is at the same time of Covid-19, but not because of it."

She said the wage subsidy "could and should" have made a difference to the staff.

"We were very keen that Bauer take it up – many other businesses have done the same." The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website