In January 2020 a new virus was identified from a cluster of cases in the city of Wuhan, China. By March the virus outbreak was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the New Zealand Government is following the Pandemic Planning guidelines developed post H1N1.
With the COVID-19 situation changing rapidly, Physiotherapy New Zealand is continuing to monitor updates to provide members with the latest information as it becomes available. We are following national and international best practice.
We urge you to be vigilant for signs of the virus and be aware of Government information sources.
COVID-19 information for businesses collated by PNZ is below. There is also a PNZ web page with links to other information on COVID-19. Please check this page as there may be additional information relevant to your business. While our website is being updated regularly, please be aware that the latest information is on the Government pages.
- The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's (MBIE) business.govt.nz website has a web page with information for businesses.
- New Zealand Trade and Enterprise have a web page with information for exporters.
- Accounting firm BDO have a web page with information about New Zealand business and Coronavirus (COVID-19).
- Business Central has provided information in their March 2020 Employer Bulletin, including a checklist for managing Coronavirus risk in the workplace.
Employer’s Guide to Managing Coronavirus
Humankind, PNZ's employment support partner, have provided an Employer’s Guide to Managing Coronavirus. Please read their latest update here (received March 2020), including answers to frequently asked questions.
A webinar for PNZ members who manage private practices that are not on the Government essential services list is being organised with Humankind. Please look out for an invite to join this webinar and put questions to the Humankind team.
NZ Government Economic & Business Support
Updated 25 March 2020
As the economic impact on businesses, organisations and their employees takes hold, the Government has announced an economic support package in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The following is a summary of the support package, from information collated by Physiotherapy New Zealand through Government sources (current as of 25 March 2020). It is expected that additions to the provisions announced will happen over the next few weeks. Each business should carefully examine their requirements for both the business and their staff. Business advisors, accountants and lawyers should be able to provide further advice, if required.
Additionally you can call the free Government helpline on 0800 779 997 (8am–1am, 7 days a week).
Further details of the support provisions and the application forms are HERE at covid19.govt.nz/government-actions/financial-support.
Leave and self isolation support
The COVID-19 leave and self-isolation scheme financially supports workers to self-isolate, or stay home when sick with COVID-19. The COVID-19 Leave Payment is available for people who:
- need to self-isolate
- cannot work because they are sick with COVID-19
- cannot work because they are caring for dependents who are required to self-isolate, or who are sick with COVID-19.
Note: This is for those sick with COVID-19, those looking after those sick or those who have had ordered to self isolate due to coming into contact with sufferers.
Wage Subsidy Scheme
The Government has put together a COVID-19 Wage Subsidy for employers in all regions. This is to support your business if you're impacted by COVID-19 and face laying off staff or reducing their hours because of COVID-19. Wage subsidies will be available for businesses in all sectors and all regions that can show a 30% decline in revenue for any month between January and June 2020 compared to the year before (including projected revenue).
Who can get it?
If you're an employer, contractor, sole trader or self-employed, you may qualify to get the COVID-19 wage subsidy. To qualify:
- your business must be registered and operating in New Zealand
- your employees must be legally working in New Zealand
- the business must have experienced a minimum 30% decline in actual or predicted revenue over the period of a month when compared with the same month last year, and that decline is related to COVID-19
- your business must have taken active steps to mitigate the impact of COVID-19
- you must make best efforts to retain employees and pay them a minimum of 80% of their normal income for the subsidised period.
How much you can get?
The COVID-19 Wage Subsidy will be paid at a flat rate of:
- $585.80 for people working 20 hours or more per week
- $350.00 for people working less than 20 hours per week.
The subsidy is paid as a lump sum and covers 12 weeks per employee. This subsidy is for wages only. It is to help you keep your staff employed while you consider changes that may be needed while the disruption continues, and to ensure the future viability of your business.
The Government has removed the cap on wage subsidies that can be paid to employers affected by COVID-19. The cap of $150,000 per business is gone. This applies to all New Zealand employers, contractors, sole traders, self-employed people, registered charities and incorporated societies. You are now able to apply for a wage subsidy for all your staff.
Business cash flow and tax measures
Tax relief and income assistance is available to people affected by the downturn in business due to the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus). There are a range of ways to help depending on your circumstances. If you have a tax agent, they should also be able to help.
Business cash flow and tax measures include:
- increasing the provisional tax threshold from $2,500 to $5,000 from 2020/2021
- increasing the small asset depreciation threshold from $500 to $1,000 — and to $5,000 for the 2020/21 tax year
- allowing depreciation on commercial and industrial buildings from 2020/2021
- removing the hours test from the In-Work Tax Credit (IWTC) from 1 July 2020.
Support of Māori communities and businesses
The Government has developed a plan to support Māori communities and businesses in the face of COVID-19. This includes a whole of Government approach to providing health, social and economic support tailored to meet the specific needs of Māori.
- a Whānau Māori Community and Mārae package reprioritising $10 million from the Māori Development vote to support community outreach
- Māori Health and Whānau Ora response with $30 million targeted directly to Māori Health services and an extra $15 million to Whānau Ora commissioning agencies
- Supporting Māori Businesses and engaging with Māori with $1 million of funding to enable a needs assessment for Māori businesses, and $470,000 to Te Arawhiti to engage and work with iwi on their COVID-19 pandemic response plans.
Financing Guarantee Scheme
A new $6.25bn business financing guarantee scheme is being launched and the Government will underwrite bank loans to small and medium-size business. The Business Finance Guarantee Scheme will provide short-term credit to cushion the financial distress on solvent small and medium-sized firms affected. The scheme will include a limit of $500,000 per loan and will apply to firms with a turnover of between $250,000 and $80 million a year. The loans will be for a maximum of three years and expected to be provided by the banks at competitive, transparent rates. The Government will carry 80% of the credit risk, with the other 20% to be carried by the banks. Please contact your bank for details of this.
Mortgage Repayment Holiday
The Government has also negotiated a mortgage repayment holiday for six months for households affected financially by COVID-19. Again please contact your bank for details of this.
Frequently Asked Questions
Some physiotherapy specific Frequently Asked Questions are below. We will continue to add to these where it is helpful to provide more specific advice not covered elsewhere. Because the answers are date specific we have dated the answers and will update as the situation changes.
Will telehealth be funded if we can’t see patients?
- There is a provision for Telehealth as a follow up in the Physiotherapy Primary care contract. We are currently talking with ACC about telehealth for service provision across all services, and rates of remuneration for these services.
We will update as soon as ACC provide a response.
- Answer reviewed 17 March 2020.
If we are using telehealth what is the best platform out of Skype/Messenger/What’sApp/Hangouts
- PNZ doesn’t have a recommended platform.
- You will need to consider patient preference and how a remote consultation can be achieved. The ability to be able to use any one / two that cross over apple and android would be best…..or the ability to use all 4.
- Please refer to Risk Management For Skype Use For Clinical Video Consultations.
- Here is the link to the AHANZ telehealth guidelines.
- The service needs to meet Physiotherapy Telehealth Standard.
- ACC expectations are that telehealth services will be via videoconferencing as this type of capability is integrated into many practice management systems and many people have smart phones.
- ACC’s reference for tech used and security is existing guidelines as per NZ Telehealth Forum and Resource Centre.
- Answer reviewed 18 March 2020.
What cleaning product should I be using in my clinics?
- The Ministry of Health are recommending hospital grade disinfectant in primary care. See the end of this document.
- Answer reviewed 18 March 2020.
Should I be cancelling group exercise classes?
- At this stage the advice around group sessions (presuming these are fewer than 100 people indoors and 500 outdoors) is they can continue – but of course that does depend on the group. Your consideration for a group session in a rest home would be different to a Pilates reformer class in the community. Please refer to the Ministry of Health COVID-19 - Advice for public events and mass gatherings.
- Answer reviewed 19 March 2020.
Where can I get training on Covid-19?
- London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) have teamed up with the UK Public Health Rapid Support Team to offer a new course on COVID-19. Starting on 23 March 2020 and running for three weeks, this online course is being offered at no cost. Read more here.
- Physioplus is providing an online programme of courses on COVID- 2019 at no cost. The aim of the course is to provide a practicing physiotherapist with the knowledge, practices and skills to allow them to play a proactive role in global and local efforts to reduce the impact of this pandemic. Read more here.
- Back In Motion are offering a no cost webinar on 23 March about Overcoming CV-19 TOGETHER. This will provide shared insights into a proportionate response to the COVID-19 impact in Australia and NZ for health practice owners. Read more here.
- Answer reviewed 20 March 2020.
What happens if a Physio gets corona virus?
- As with any person getting the virus a physio should follow the Ministry advice. Call the dedicated Healthline - 08003585453.
- The Physiotherapy Board of New Zealand will be sending out information about notification if a physiotherapist has COVID19.
- The PNZ insurance programmes through BMS are designed to protect members against professional indemnity and/or public liability.
- Members who have a personal accident or illness policy to protect their own incomes whilst unable to work should check to see what cover this would provide.
- Members should also refer to their clinic insurance for any potential business continuity cover that may apply due to closure or loss of income.
What can physiotherapists do to support the Public Health COVID19 response?
- PNZ has approached the Ministry of Health (MoH) offering support from PNZ and our members. Essential services, first contact primary care and provision of telehealth services have all been suggested as ways that physiotherapists could ease the burden on the health system. We will update as soon as MoH provide a response.
What are the Physiotherapy Board of New Zealand (PBNZ) CPD requirements?
- A PBNZ 18 March 2020 COVID19 update provides assurance to physiotherapists, that any course attendance impacted by cancellations due to COVID19 will have this taken in to consideration during any audits PBNZ may undertake.
Page updated 26 March 2020