Hospitality businesses in the Whanganui region are uncertain a Government relief package will see them through the Covid-19 Omicron outbreak.
The package announced by Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Revenue Minister David Parker this week offers businesses fortnightly Covid support payments of $4000 plus $400 per full-time employee for six weeks.
To be eligible, they would have to show a 40 per cent drop in revenue over seven consecutive days during the six weeks to February 15 when the country moved to phase two of the Covid-19 Omicron response.
Mischief Cafe co-owner Jaymie Massey said she did not know if her business would be eligible because it would be hard to show a 40 per cent decrease for the six-week timeframe.
"We had already experienced a drop-off when Whanganui entered the red traffic light stage in early December."
Business was starting to pick up again when we moved to orange after the Christmas break, she said.
"Then we went back to red on January 23 which is normally a really busy time for us. I think it would be fairer to calculate a decrease based on where we were at during the same period in 2021."
The Blind Finch Hamburgeria and Bakehouse in Ohakune has had a similar experience, owner Derek Allomes said.
"If I calculate our decrease in income for that timeframe it amounts to a decrease from very little to next to nothing," he said.
"Grant Robertson said that a higher threshold of revenue loss had been set to target the businesses that are most affected but that doesn't accurately reflect our situation."
Allomes said the best part of the Ministers' announcement for him was the Small Business Cashflow Loans Scheme being extended.
Parker said the extension would allow businesses that had already accessed the scheme an extra $10,000. It would have a new repayment period of five years, with the first two years being interest-free. He said the interest already accrued from borrowers accessing the scheme would also be cancelled for the first two years of the loan.
The package also gives Inland Revenue the ability to allow businesses to be flexible in their tax payment dates and terms. Payment dates can be extended and the department can help with GST as well as provisional tax due.
Rutland Arms Inn co-owner Jennifer Gilbertson-Small said her business was in a better position than some others despite missing out on regular summer visitors.
"We always have regular customers who come back every year for Vintage Weekend and Opera Week and we really missed those this year," she said.
"We are lucky though because we have had corporate travellers staying in our rooms and locals have been wonderful in supporting the restaurant and bar. We couldn't do it without them and we have hosted our own smaller events with maximums of 50 people."
Gilbertson-Small said she and her husband Tavis Small were fortunate to have owned their business for 12 years, which gave them a bit more "cushioning" for tough times.
"We know that Hospitality NZ have been doing all they can to support struggling businesses and it has been much tougher for the more recently established ones in this region. It may be too little, too late for some.
"I know Whanganui people are already supportive but I urge everyone to spend as much as they can afford locally."
Robertson said Government support would be constantly monitored to ensure that the most affected businesses would be supported.
"This is how we have calculated financial support to businesses in the last year and we want to be consistent as we can with that," he said.
"There is a risk that if we use the comparator period based on a year ago that we miss the 145,000 businesses that have been created in the last year. There is an exception made for seasonal businesses, which are able to apply using a similar week in the previous year."
Robertson said the Government has paid out almost $23 billion in business support via the Wage Subsidy Scheme, the Resurgence Support Payment, and the Small Business Cashflow Loans Scheme since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020.