Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said that significant restrictions would be kept in place even if the country eases the nationwide one-month lockdown enforced to beat the spread of the coronavirus.
New Zealand introduced its highest, Alert Level 4 lockdown measures in March, under which offices, schools and all non-essential services like bars, restaurants, cafes and playgrounds were shut down. A decision on whether to lift the lockdown is set to be made on April 20.
The measures were tougher than most other countries, including neighbouring Australia, where some businesses were allowed to operate.
Despite the restrictions, however, IT distributors in the country have largely been able to find ways to continue servicing partners while keeping workers and business associates safe during the ongoing crisis.
Now, Ardern has said that if New Zealand moves to the lower Alert Level 3 of restriction, it would permit aspects of the economy to reopen in a safe way but there will be no "rush to normality".
"We have an opportunity to do something no other country has achieved, eliminating the virus," Ardern said at a news conference on 16 April.
New Zealand reported 15 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, taking the total to 1,401 in a nation of about 5 million people. There have been nine deaths.
Ardern said under Alert Level 3, some people could return to work and businesses reopen if they are able to provide contactless engagement with customers.
Shops, malls, hardware stores and restaurants will remain shut but can permit online or phone purchases.
Under Alert Level 3, people must work from home if they can. Where that is not possible businesses may re-open but must comply with health and safety requirements around physical distancing and contactless engagement with customers.
Businesses only accessed by the staff, and without a customer facing function, such as building and construction or forestry will be able to open under strict health and safety and physical distancing rules.
At the same time, while the government recognises that more people will travel to and from work, in order to avoid taking potential COVID-19 cases to other parts of the country, restricting movement to what is necessary remains the goal of the Alert Level 3 restrictions.
“By design, Level 3 is a progression, not a rush to normality. It carries forward many of the restrictions in place at Level 4, including the requirement to mainly be at home in your bubble and to limit contact with others," Ardern said.
The government has also announced a suite of new measures to provide relief for small and medium-sized businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to the $20 billion in support previously announced.
The new measures include a $3.1 billion tax loss carry-back scheme, a $60 million estimated annual savings to business each year from changes to the tax loss continuity rules and a $25 million in the next 12 months for further business consultancy support.
As it stands, many channel players in the local market are already making use of the government's wage subsidy scheme in a sign the virus shutdown may be causing pain for local tech businesses.
Reseller News searches on the database revealed a predictably large number of retail channel partners that have claimed the subsidy, from the very large such as Harvey Norman and Smith's City, to numerous small local PC and mobile sales and service outlets.
However, they have now been joined by managed and cloud service providers and IT training, recruitment and contracting companies.
(Reporting by Praveen Menon; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan; with Reseller News staff)