Summary Wage subsidy applications close tonight for the latest round of pay packet boosts. The government will unveil the way hospitals will cope with an expected surge in covid cases as Auckland stands on the edge of a covid infection explosion not unlike Melbourne six weeks ago.

Wage subsidy applications Applications for the latest wage subsidy close on Thursday night for businesses and self-employed people who predict at least a 40% decline in revenue from September 28 to October 11. The scheme has seen government payments of roughly $7 billion, including requested and voluntary repayments of $757 million.

Hospital system update The government will unveil plans for the hospital system to cope with a spike in the number of covid cases. Worst-case scenarios predict Northland and Auckland could see 5,200 cases a week if covid is out of control. The government's chief medical officer Andrew Connolly, GP Dr Jeff Lowe and senior co-ordinating official Russell Simpson will join health minister Andrew Little for a health system overview.

Privacy research New research from Google shows 51% of its New Zealand users are unaware it is possible to access their Google search history. The research coincides with the company making a push to promote its products’ privacy controls. The technology giant’s business model relies on the collection of its people’s personal data in exchange for the use of its free services such as Google Search, Gmail, Google Maps, and YouTube. Google charges publishers and businesses for their products and services to appear in Google search results or on other websites through the Google AdWords and AdSense platforms. These ads can be targeted at a specific user’s browsing habits. Google NZ’s 2020 revenue was $43.8m, $35.73m of which was advertising revenues.

Vaccine certificates New Zealand’s My Covid Record online platform will eventually issue separate vaccine certificates for domestic and international use. From November, the platform will allow New Zealanders to download vaccination certificates for domestic use. “There will be separate certificates and QR codes for domestic and international verification of vaccination records and covid-19 test results”, Michael Dreyer, group manager, national digital services told BusinessDesk. “The first phase of this project launches with the website My Covid Record, where you’ll be able to view your vaccination records. This is the same platform that will later allow you to download digital vaccination and covid-19 test certificates for use in NZ and overseas.” The government has notably not referred to the international vaccination certificates as ‘passports’.

Banning backpackers Bali is rethinking its approach to tourism and considering barring backpackers in favour of “quality” tourists. Bali reopens today to tourists from New Zealand, China, Japan, South Korea, and the United Arab Emirates. NZ tourism minister Stuart Nash has also mulled targeting only wealthy tourists and discouraging backpackers when borders reopen.

Early Christmas rush Retail sales of toys has begun earlier than usual due to fears of shortages, with TradeMe toy sales up 40% on the same time last year. TradeMe spokeswoman Millie Silvester says retailers on the site have reported an early rush, seeing trampolines, bikes and lego well up on last year. The top ten toy predictions for Christmas, based on purchases and searches, were: A Zuru Rainbocorn Surprise, Poppy the Booty Shakin Pug, Lego Super Mario starter course, Bobby the burping hippo, Harry Potter Pictionary Air, LOL Surprise Movie magic, Play Doh Drill n Fill dentist, Paw Patrol The Movie: Marshall’s fire truck, animatronic Star Wars Baby Yoda and Fisher n Price 4-in-1 learning bot.

M&A growth One of the busiest years since 2018 for mergers and acquisition activity shows offshore investors have become confident working remotely. Law firm Simpson Grierson expects 95 deals to be completed this year, compared to 79 last year. "Our closed borders and other covid-19 related restrictions have not stopped offshore investors who see New Zealand as a very attractive destination with high-quality businesses, particularly in key sectors like technology, medical, consumer and energy," Simpson Grierson partner James Hawes said.

Goat milk explosion A surge in sales to China for Australian toddler goat milk company has given new life to ailing A2 Milk, resulting in the NZ company’s shares climbing 12% to close at $6.90. Bubs Australia’s gross revenue increased 96% compared to the same time last year, to $18.5 million for the September 2021 quarter. Sales via the daigou channel jumped by 6.5 times the level seen last year. The surge not only showed the way for A2 Milk, but will also provide excitement for the future of goat milk producers in NZ, with the latest, BC (Before Cow) launching just last month in Auckland.

Kirk blastoff In a PR master move, the actor William Shatner, best known as Captain Kirk in the original Star Trek television series, has become the oldest man in space. Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin's flight took Shatner into space for three minutes overnight.

24-hour operations Major US ports and businesses will open 24 hours a day to help clear backlogs. The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which move about 40% of all US containers and  Walmart, UPS, FedEx, Samsung, The Home Depot and Target have committed to expanded hours and staff numbers.

Markets update The pan-European Stoxx 600 index rose 0.7% to a two-week high, buoyed by strong third quarters from German software group SAP and French luxury goods company LVMH. SAP shares rose 4% after the company revised its growth predictions upwards, and LVMH announced strong third quarter sales. Germany’s DAX also rose 0.7%, and France’s CAC rose 0.8%. The UK’s FTSE 100 dropped 0.2% on the back of bank share price weakness. In the US, markets were mixed in mid-afternoon trading, with the Dow Jones down by 0.3%, the S&P 500 flat and the Nasdaq up 0.4%. US September Consumer Price Index (CPI) figures showed inflation is still a force to be reckoned with. Analysts and investors believe core prices show inflation is stronger than the overall picture would suggest, and continue to predict central bank rate rises in the second half of 2022.