Local Government COVID-19 Response Update – Sunday 12 September 2021  

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Public Health requirements for council meetings  

This advice provides guidance on the relevant provisions of the Public Health Order as they relate to council meetings.  

Noting these are the minimum requirements, based on the Alert Level Order. We recommend that Chief Executives meet with the Mayor and Councillors to set a workable policy for the Council and how it will operate, given the Chief Executive’s Health and Safety obligations. 

The Pandemic Notice has been renewed and allows councils to hold meetings online. 

Please note this is not legal advice. 

Physical distancing 

As per the Public Health Order all persons who enter a workplace (other than workers) must comply with the 2m rule. 

This would apply to members of the public in a Council Chamber or a room in which council meetings are held. 

All workers of a business or service must comply with the 1m rule.   

As a worker includes anyone who carries out work in any capacity for the local authority this would apply to not only council staff but also Councillors in the Council Chambers or in other parts of Council buildings where they ‘work’. 

In practice this would mean that in an open Council chamber there is a 1m rule for Councillors and staff and 2m rule for members of the public. 

Face coverings 

As per the Public Health Order, every person must wear a face covering when in the parts of the premises open to the public. 

If the Council chamber or meeting room is open to the public (as it would be for a normal Council meeting), then face coverings must be worn by everyone in attendance including council staff and elected members. 

If the Council chamber or meeting room is closed to the public, then face coverings are not legally required. Face coverings are strongly encouraged especially when physical distancing is difficult. 

Record keeping  

Record keeping rules continue to apply. 

Updated guidance for council operations to meet alert level requirements 

Yesterday we distributed our revised guidance dated 10 September 2021. The changes are in bold and respond to inquiries we have received and feedback from other government agencies. 

Information on current cases, COVID-19 test sites and economic support  

There are 20 new cases of COVID-19 in the community, all in Auckland. This brings the total number of to 922, 352of whom have recovered 

Available testing sites can be found here on the Ministry of Health website: Available testing sites. 

Locations of interest can be found Locations of Interest, and is being updated as soon as information is available. 

Economic assistance is available for those impacted by the lockdown, more information available on the COVID-19 website. 

Travel across Alert Level boundaries 

The change in alert levels brings with it an increased risk associated with people transiting between alert level areas and introducing COVID-19. 

Workers who need to cross an alert level boundary must carry evidence of the purpose of their travel and the location of their destination. 

From 11.59pm on 16 September 2021, they must also carry evidence of having a COVID-19 test within the previous 7 days or have a certificate that verifies they were examined by a medical practitioner within the previous 7 days. 

The Business Travel Register, managed by MBIE, enables businesses and organisations to register for travel for permitted activities, or to seek an exemption from the Director-General of Health. 

Government agencies will be working with employers who have workers crossing the Auckland boundary to put in place weekly testing of these workers.  

More information can be found on the MBIE website: Business travel across Alert Level Boundaries — business.govt.nz 

Guidance on mandatory record keeping at Alert Level 3 and lower 

Many businesses and locations are required to take steps to ensure a people can easily make a record when they visit. 

People in charge of a business, location or event, legally must make sure they have safe and secure systems and processes in place so that everyone working on or visiting the premises can scan in or provide their details in an electronic or paper-based manual process, no matter how long they are there for. This includes workers, contractors, customers, and volunteers. 

Businesses and locations opening at Alert Level 2 have until 11.59pm Tuesday, 14 September 2021 to get systems and processes set up. If a business or location was open at Alert Level 3, it should already have systems set up. 

Paper based registers should be maintained and recorded from an individual behind a counter (i.e. your receptionist) rather than viewed and operated by everyone who enters the building. If this is inconvenient or not staffed – people should be using a ballot box system. 

The Privacy Commissioner has provided guidanceon how to comply with the requirements of the Privacy Act while complying with the new record keeping requirements.  

There will be no explicit obligation on the person responsible for the place or gathering to ensure that people are making a record. The obligation on businesses is to have systems and processes in place to ensure (as far as reasonably practicable) that customers or visitors make a record.  

Businesses will not be required or expected to turn people away who may refuse to make a record of their visit, particularly if the person becomes aggressive or abusive. This will be at the discretion of the business. 

Visit the Unite Against COVID-19 website to get information on mandatory record keeping. 

Epidemic notice remains in force 

The Epidemic notice was renewed on 8 September 2021 and lasts in place for three months. 

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

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; 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.