Web update for 21 September 2020

COVID-19 Local Government Response Unit main page

Frequency of Response Unit updates

Following today’s announcement about Alert Level Settings, the Response Unit will provide you with one-off bulletins on an as-needed basis for urgent or breaking news and is ceasing the weekly bulletin.

Should there be material changes to the Alert Levels, we will review our arrangements.

Here’s today’s update

Alert Level settings were reviewed today, Monday 21 September:

Auckland is to move to Alert Level 2, with eased restrictions on social gatherings, from 11.59 pm on Wednesday 23 September. Auckland’s level 2 status will be in place for 14 days, with Cabinet set to review those settings again on Monday 5 October.

The rest of the country will move to Alert Level 1 from 11.59 pm on Monday 21 September.

At Alert Level 1 outside Auckland, there are no restrictions on gatherings, but organisers are encouraged to maintain records to enable contact tracing. 

The Auckland region (Auckland Council area) is at Alert Level 2:

At Alert Level 2 in Auckland, gatherings will be limited to 100 people.

Face coverings on public transport are mandatory.

The Government is continuing to encourage New Zealanders to behave as if they carry their Alert Level with them. This means:

being considerate and ensuring they practice physical distancing, wash hands and cough and sneeze into their elbow;

keeping track of their movements, using the NZ COVID Tracer app if possible; and

if they develop any cold or flu symptoms, staying where they are and seeking advice about getting tested.

The Response Unit remains on hand to support you. You can send enquiries to your usual SOLGM, LGNZ, DIA contacts or this inbox: LGCGcovid19response@dia.govt.nz

The Epidemic Notice has been extended

Today, the Government issued the Epidemic Preparedness (COVID-19) Notice 2020 Renewal Notice (No. 2) 2020 (the Renewal Notice).

This Renewal Notice extends the Epidemic Preparedness (COVID-19) Notice 2020 (the Principal Notice) to 22 December 2020.

As we have noted in previous updates to you, a number of amendments relevant to local government remain in force while the Principal Notice is in force.

Provisions relevant to local government that are tied to the Epidemic Notice

The following provisions will remain in place until the Principal Notice expires on 22 December or is revoked:

the amendments to enable council meetings via audio or visual link to meet quorum requirements regardless of Council Standing Orders;

the provisions enabling council meetings to be open to the public through online access and to post meeting agendas, reports and minutes on council websites rather than physical locations;

new members of Council can continue to make their statutory declaration (oath of office) via audio or audio-visual link;

rates rebate applicants can complete the statutory declaration requirement via audio or visual link; and

the Order-in-Council mechanism for making further changes to by-election timing and provisions enabling local authority chief executives to delay the commencement of by-election timeframes.

Provisions relevant to local government that are not tied to the Epidemic Notice

The following provisions have specified revocation dates that are not tied to the Principal Notice being in force:

amendments to provide more flexibility in the special consultative procedure process if urgent decisions relating to the COVID-19 response are needed – remains in force until 1 October 2020;

amendments to the definition of public notice to place a “reasonably practicable” caveat on the requirements for inclusion in a newspaper – remains in force until 1 November 2020; and

extensions providing for bylaws that would otherwise be revoked by section 160A of the Local Government Act 2002 to continue in force until 30 June 2021 – remains in force until 1 July 2021.

Public transport requirements

Public transport operators including airlines, buses, and trains no longer need to maintain seating restrictions or passenger capacity limits at Alert Level 2. In Alert Level 1, there are no restrictions on public transport, however people are still encouraged to avoid public transport or travel if they are sick.

In Auckland, mask use continues to be compulsory.

The rest of the country is still encouraged to wear masks, but not required when travelling. The only exception is on all air travel through, to and from Auckland.

Communications around public transport settings are sent out via Waka Kotahi’s NERT email alert system. Should you wish to subscribe to this mailing list, please contact NERT@nzta.govt.nz

COVID-19 Local Government Communications Zoom Hui

Together with Auckland Council and Auckland Emergency Management, the Communications and Engagement team from the COVID-19 All-of-Government Response Group are holding a one-off hui (via zoom) for all local government communications and engagement people to discuss the COVID-19 response and resurgence. The hui will take place on Wednesday 30 September from 10-11.30am.

The Zoom Hui will be an opportunity to connect and share, get insights about COVID-19 issues, needs, interests and priorities from a local government communications perspective and talk planning for the future.

The session will:

Hear from Auckland Council and Auckland Emergency Management communications and public information management people about their experiences and insights around the recent resurgence;

Discuss how Unite Against COVID-19 channels, collateral and messaging is meeting needs across NZ; and

Discuss resurgence communications planning – what’s being done nationally, regionally and locally.

If you would like to attend, please email Covid.comms@dpmc.govt.nz with ‘Local govt comms hui’ in the subject line.

COVID-19 impact analysis tool

As mentioned in our update from Wednesday, 16 September, DIA has been working with Deloitte to develop a tool to support councils in understanding/assessing the COVID-19 economic impact and provide various scenario assessments.

We are continuing Zoom workshops on the COVID-19 impact analysis tool this week. We encourage you to extend the invite to a range of staff who might use the tool so that its benefits are fully realised.

The purpose of these workshops is to outline how to utilise the tool for LTP drafting. The tool has three key components:

Economics forecast: drawing on national and regional information made available from the Deloitte team and publicly available data via various government agencies;

Visualisation dashboard: data outputs provided at a regional level (and local level where the data enables); and

Scenario modelling: the ability to input certain scenarios and test policy responses to those scenarios.

Elimination strategy and Resurgence planning

The Government remains committed to an elimination strategy for COVID-19 as outlined in the “Stamp it Out” framework. This means a sustained approach of keeping it out, finding it, and stamping it out.

The core of the response will be personal hygiene, staying home when sick, testing, contact tracing, and isolation. You may find posters to support these messages. Where this is insufficient, the Government will seek to control COVID-19 with the least intrusive measures, including tailored local responses.

This potential for future local escalations in Alert Levels means that it is important all parts of New Zealand are well prepared to respond to a resurgence of COVID-19. Planning and preparation will be key to enabling social and economic recovery to continue and adapt during any future resurgence.

You will find the detail of all the COVID-19 Alert Levels on the COVID-19 website.

Other useful Resources

Guidance on council services and operations across the COVID-19 Alert Levels on the COVID-19 Response Unit webpage.

SOLGM has issued a practice note on navigating the post-lockdown LTP which is available on their website: www.solgm.co.nz

NZ COVID Tracer booklet - hard copy contact tracing booklets for people that cannot, or choose not to, download and use the NZ COVID Tracer App can be ordered from https://order.hpa.org.nz/collections/covid-19/products/covid-19-booklet

Google drive hosting key creative assets for agencies to use and share across their channels as appropriate

Ministry of Transport’s guidance for Transport and Travel by Alert Level

MfE’s guidance for councils operating virtual hearings under the RMA

MfE’s face mask disposal messages

MfE’s Wet wipes messages

You may sign up to the daily All of Government email newsletter

You may find posters to support key messages

Foreign nationals in need of assistance can check their eligibility and apply online

Connected.govt.nz has been launched by MDS to assist workers, employers and job seekers navigate all of the available COVID recovery programmes and assistance. The website is supported by a free phone line, 0800 264 737 and MSD have 35 physical Connected locations around the country.

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