COVID-19 Response

New Zealand’s world-leading COVID response has secured high rates of vaccination, as well as the lowest numbers of cases and deaths in the OECD. We have prevented the COVID devastation seen elsewhere in the world and have delivered a strong foundation for us to move forward.

Our economic recovery is gaining momentum. Unemployment is low, exports are up, GPD is growing, and businesses are recovering faster than almost anywhere else in the world. Now, we are welcoming back the world and taking the next steps in our plan to speed up New Zealand’s economic growth.

Here are the key parts of our COVID response so far:

Protecting lives and livelihoods

We’ve acted decisively to keep New Zealanders safe during the pandemic. Our strong health response has been the best economic response, too. We have seen some of the lowest numbers of cases and deaths, and delivered one of the most highly vaccinated populations. We protected our economy from widespread disruption, and with our economy now larger than pre-pandemic levels, low unemployment, and tourism reopening, we are in a strong position to accelerate our recovery. Going forward, our plan is simple – it’s about keeping Kiwis safe and protecting our most vulnerable, while supporting greater economic activity and getting everyone closer to feeling a bit more normal.

Keeping business going

We’ve kept people in work with our wage subsides and support payments, as well as re-deploying workers affected by COVID into environmental projects. To support businesses we’ve provided low-interest and interest-free loans and made changes to the tax system to boost cashflow and encourage investment. We also introduced border exceptions to bring in workers for critical jobs. To keep vital supply chains running, we supported Air New Zealand to secure and maintain freight links with important markets.

Rolling out free, effective vaccines

We’ve secured a highly vaccinated population by ensuring easy access to free COVID vaccines. Around four million New Zealanders are now fully vaccinated and more than 50% of children have had their first dose. This high vaccination rate, alongside our traffic light system, prevented the Delta destruction that health systems in other countries faced and set up our economy to bounce back faster.

Working towards safely reconnecting to the world

Our strong COVID response, and the hard work of all New Zealanders, has allowed us to reopen to the world. To speed up New Zealand’s economic growth, we’ve launched a proactive programme of international trade visits to key markets to back Kiwi exporters and let the world know New Zealand is open for business. Our reconnecting plan gives employers greater access to skilled workers to address workforce need, and our new reopening dates will reunite families and friends reunite, welcome back international students, and provide a much-needed boost to our tourism and events sectors.

Labour is already rolling out our plan to keep New Zealanders safe and keep the recovery moving:

Investing in our people

We’re putting people at the heart of our plan. That’s why we are providing income support and access to training. We've:

  • Cushioned the blow with the wage subsidy that supported around 1.7 million jobs through the lockdown, and extended the wage subsidy for another eight weeks for firms and workers in especially hard-hit industries
  • Supported incomes with the COVID redundancy payment of up to $490 a week, and increased main benefits by $25 a week
  • Made apprenticeships and many trades training courses free for the next two years, saving tens of thousands of learners up to $6,500 each and giving employers a great stream of new workers

Jobs, jobs, jobs

Our recovery and rebuild is focused on getting Kiwis back to work, supporting industries, and rolling out infrastructure investment around the country to create jobs. That’s why we are:

  • Upgrading New Zealand’s crucial infrastructure like hospitals, schools, roads, and public transport so the country we rebuild is better than the one we inherited. This includes: Roads and rail to keep people safe and get people moving, like the Tauranga Northern Link, Wellington commuter rail, and Canterbury road upgrades; our neglected schools and hospitals, by providing up to $400,000 to almost every state school; child, maternity and mental health facilities; and our public services to help them become more clean and green by replacing coal heaters with clean energy in schools and hospitals
  • Delivering extra state houses, giving the building industry a good pipeline of new work
  • Supporting regions with local community projects around the country through developing a pipeline of projects with local councils, iwi, community groups and businesses. Projects funded to date include the Hawke’s Bay Aquatic Centre, the revitalisation of the Paihia waterfront, investment for Bay of Plenty flood protection, and the Unitec residential development in Auckland

Preparing for the future

This is our chance to future proof the economy and ensure we emerge with a more sustainable economy. That’s why we:

  • Are investigating clean energy projects to work towards our 100% renewable target and looking for new opportunities, like pumped hydro storage at Lake Onslow
  • Created almost 11,000 Jobs for Nature that’ll nurture our environment and improve our tourism infrastructure

Supporting small businesses, entrepreneurs and job creators

Small and medium enterprises are at the heart of our economy. That’s why we’ve:

  • Continued to provide interest free loans of up to $100,000 to help businesses stay afloat
  • Refunded more than $3 billion of business tax relief to help cash flow
  • Created the Tourism Recovery Fund to help weather the storm and protect jobs

Positioning New Zealand globally

As a trading nation, we rely on international customers. That’s why we are:

  • Promoting our primary sector roadmap Fit For a Better World to accelerate the productivity, sustainability and inclusiveness of the primary sector to deliver more value for all New Zealanders
  • Providing on the ground support for Kiwi exporters in key markets to boost trade
  • Negotiating free trade agreements with the UK and EU, and further advancing the Digital Economic Partnership Agreement and the Agreement on Climate Change, Trade, and Sustainability