“We need every day between now and next Monday (11 May 2020) to know for sure that we succeeded in locking in the gains of Level 4, recovered effectively in our waiting room of Level 3, and are in the position to move down again and give New Zealanders back greater freedoms”- Prime Minister Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern
Novel coronavirus has caused severe disruption to health, financial systems, share markets and overall world economy. Since beginning of April 2020, the WHO has reported an average of approximately 80,000 new cases on a daily basis. Currently, over 3.5 million cases of COVID-19 and almost 250k deaths have been reported to WHO.
On the bleak end, cases from Eastern Europe, Africa, South-East Asia, the Eastern Mediterranean and the Americas has been on the rise. However, on the brighter side, countries like Western Europe and New Zealand have reported declining virus cases in the past few days.
Notably, NZ has been grabbing international attention with strong success over virus containment reporting only 2 confirmed virus cases this week, with 16 recoveries made in the last 24 hours.
A country of almost 5 million, NZ has reported less than 1.5k virus infections & 21 deaths as on 7 May 2020, administering over 100k tests to ensure safety of its citizens.
New Zealand’s COVID-19 Success Story
As countries strive to flatten the curve of COVID-19 infections, New Zealand seems to be inching towards a safe zone potentially wiping out coronavirus almost completely, at the back of bold guidance from PM Jacinda Ardern who has been receiving praise from all over the world for her successful leadership in containing the spread of the virus.
On 23 March 2020, the country imposed one of the strictest lockdowns the world saw amid the pandemic when merely 100 cases were reported with no deaths.
The timing of the government’s reaction to the grave health crisis was appropriate as it introduced what can be deemed as the world’s toughest border restrictions with stay-at-home orders, closed borders, closure of businesses, while quarantines, isolation and robust widespread testing became the new normal.
The latest Google tracking data of the country’s Level 4 lockdown showed that New Zealand did remarkably well, maintaining consistently lower Level of social movement. The dedicated commitment to staying at home and physical distancing has been undoubtedly the principal contributor to the swift drop in cases at Level 4.
On 28 April 2020, NZ marked a transition from Alert Level 4 to relatively relaxed Level 3 ensuring graded opening of the economy, while several social restrictions remained in place.
The nation is further awaiting a decision on potentially moving to Alert Level 2 on 11 May 2020, perhaps marking the end of a two-week Level 3.
Post COVID-19 New Zealand - Ideal Business Spot?
New Zealand now seems to be better positioned to be able to rebuild ahead of many other countries by tackling the menace of coronavirus upfront, making it a sound, high-quality and reliable place to invest, opines PM Arden.
What Works In New Zealand’s Favor?
Notably, New Zealand leverages from geography: An island nation, relatively isolated with low population density, ensuring favorable scenario for virus control.
Culturally, New Zealand is known for adherence to high Level of public cooperation, a trait that opportunists appreciate in countries they aspire to tap. Moreover, it has a reasonably coherent public health system.
Besides, works on trans-Tasman COVID-safe travel zone policy has been agreed upon by PM Arden and her Australian counterpart Scott Morrison, which is likely to ease travel restrictions between Australia and New Zealand, aiding trade, businesses and domestic tourism.
With nation’s stance on health crisis getting noticeably better, New Zealand is not only well placed to attract the world’s highest-value individual migrants but also solid businesses.
It should be noted that with businesses coming in, the worry of immigrants taking most of the jobs will lessen too, as locals will have the opportunity to take up jobs that require local staff and domestic knowledge and exposure.
Government Proactive In Supporting NZ Businesses
In April 2020, the Government launched an estimated NZD 9-12 billion in wage subsidies intended to aid businesses in retaining staff employment. Another wage subsidy scheme worth NZD 126m was launched towards COVID 19 leave and self-isolation support for people who were unable to work.
A further NZD 2.8 billion income support package for the vulnerable, including doubling the Winter Energy Payment for 2020 along with a permanent $25-per-week benefit increase was introduced.
To keep more New Zealanders in work, the Government launched NZD 100 million redeployment package. Another support came in the form of NZD 6.25 billion Business Finance Guarantee scheme for SMEs, to protect jobs and support the economy.
Further support for SMEs, including NZD 3.1 billion tax loss carry-back scheme, changes to the tax loss continuity rules and further business consultancy support was also implemented.
On 1 May 2020, the Government announced that more businesses will be able to apply to access bank finance to support them through the COVID-19 response as a result of updates to the Business Finance Guarantee scheme.
Even though the world has turned upside down owing to COVID 19 repercussions, New Zealand seems to be better positioned to offer lucrative business opportunities in a post-COVID 19 world, at the back of rapid virus recovery, robust governance, government schemes and geographical advantages.