Update - Wednesday 16 September 2020

COVID-19 Local Government Response Unit main page

Frequency of Response Unit updates

The Response Unit is reviewing its operations in anticipation of the upcoming announcement about Alert Level settings on Monday 21 September.

Should the rest of the country outside Auckland shift to Alert Level 1 following this, we will revert to providing you with one-off bulletins on an as-needed basis for urgent or breaking news and ceasing the weekly bulletin schedule.

Here’s today’s update

The current Alert Level settings will be reviewed on Monday 21 September:

For Auckland, Cabinet will review the Alert Level settings with a view to increasing the limits on gatherings there. Any changes to Alert Level settings will take effect from 11.59 pm on Wednesday 23 September.

For the rest of the country, Cabinet will confirm the in-principle decision to move the rest of New Zealand to Alert Level 1 from 11.59 pm on Monday 21 September.

Until then the country remains at Alert Level 2. At Alert Level 2 outside Auckland, gatherings such as church services and social events will continue to be limited to 100 people.

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

There have been some references to Auckland being at “Level 2.5” – this is to highlight that there are extra restrictions at Alert Level 2 in Auckland. It is not a new formal Alert Level.

At Alert Level 2 in Auckland, gatherings will continue to be limited to 10 people and funerals and tangihanga will be limited to 50 people and have to meet other conditions set by the Ministry of Health.

As well as wearing face coverings on public transport where they are mandatory, the government is encouraging Aucklanders to wear face coverings in public places where physical distancing is not possible.

The Government is encouraging Aucklanders to behave as if they carry their Alert Level with them. This means asking Aucklanders who travel outside their region to consider:

restricting themselves to groups of no more than 10 when they are outside of Auckland, even though gatherings of up to 100 are permitted;

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 ongoing status of COVID-19 specific legislation

Some of the temporary legislative amendments to support governance and decision making through the COVID-19 event, such as the ability to hold council meetings by audio/visual link, remain in force while the Epidemic Preparedness (COVID-19) Notice 2020 remains in force.

The Epidemic Notice is currently due to expire on 24 September 2020. However, the Government has the option to revoke the notice early or extend the notice past this date.

The notice gives effect to a wide range of COVID-19 related measures and the decision on whether to extend or revoke it will need to consider all these matters.

We acknowledge your need for greater certainty for your forward planning of council meetings. We have given this feedback to relevant central government agencies working on extending the notice. We cannot provide any further update on the ongoing status of the Epidemic Notice at this time, however, we will update you as soon as we can.

COVID-19 impact analysis tool

As discussed in our update from Wednesday, 9 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.

Last week we sent out an email giving an overview of the COVID-19 impact analysis tool and inviting you to Zoom workshops starting 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.

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.

Mask use continues to be compulsory.

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

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 details 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.