COVID-19: Council prepares for service continuity
Published on 23 March 2020
Far North District Council says the provision of essential services will continue after the nation goes into national lockdown from midnight Wednesday.
This follows the Government’s announcement of a Level 3 pandemic alert nationwide beginning today, and a Level 4 lockdown for at least four weeks to stop the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
Council Chief Executive Shaun Clarke says planning to close public facilities and reduce all non-essential public-facing services was already well under way to help protect Far North communities.
“Today’s announcement has forced us to bring our planning forward significantly. Despite that, I want to assure residents that all essential services performed by the Council will continue, although many will be at reduced levels.”
He says the provision of water, wastewater, stormwater, drought management, animal management, housing for the elderly and road maintenance, where it involves public safety, will continue.
Other services, such as libraries, public swimming pools, i-SITE information centres, and Council service centres will close immediately following the announcement the nation has moved will move to a Level 3 COVID-19 alert from today.
Mr Clarke says the Council already planned to have 75 per cent of its staff working from home by the end of this week. Bringing that up to as close to 100 per cent as soon as possible is now the priority. “Many roles within the Council can be undertaken from home and we have been expanding this capability over the past two weeks. Some services that require us to physically attend, such as animal management or repairs to vital infrastructure, will continue. We are working on health and safety plans to ensure these are carried out with as little risk of infection as possible for residents and staff.”
He asks that all non-essential requests from residents be deferred until the COVID-19 alert level is reduced by the government. “Our contact centre will continue to operate, and we will redeploy staff from other areas to help field calls and online enquiries. I ask everyone to remember this is an unprecedented situation for New Zealand and our staff are doing all they can to help us all get through. Please be patient and help us to help you.”
Mr Clarke says information on how the COVID-19 crisis will impact Council activities will be provided via the Council’s website as soon as it is available.