Local Government COVID-19 Response Update – Tuesday 14 September 2021  

Here’s today’s update 

On Monday 13 September the Prime Minister announced that Auckland would remain at Alert Level 4 until 11:59pm next Tuesday, 21 September 2021.  

The rest of the country remains in Alert Level 2. 

Alert Level settings for the whole country will be reviewed by Cabinet on Monday 20 September 2021.  

The Prime Minister announced that Cabinet has made an in-principle decision that Auckland will move to Alert Level 3 at 12:00am Wednesday 22 September 2021.  

Updated Guidance for council operations to meet alert level requirements 

We have revised our guidance for councils, dated 14 September 2021. Updates are in bold and respond to enquiries we have received and feedback from other government agencies.  

Key updates include: 

Testing when travelling across Alert Level Boundaries (page 14) 

 Regulatory and Licensing (page 60) 

Mandatory testing requirements 

From 11:59pm on Thursday 16 September all workers who need to cross Alert Level boundaries to work at a permitted business must show evidence that they have had a COVID-19 test in the previous seven days, whether they have symptoms or not. This includes workers who regularly travel across boundaries to respond to emergency calls. 

Police will also be checking for compliance and turning away people who do not have evidence of a test. 

Evidence of a test includes a text message at the time of test or advising of the result of the test. If these texts aren’t available, a worker will need a paper-based confirmation proof of test from either the Community Testing Centre or GP where they got tested. 

There is no cost for essential workers to get a test for this purpose. 

Subcontractors or other key utilities specialists who have not been tested, may only cross Alert Level boundaries in emergency situations. We suggest that key utilities businesses identify their subcontractors and provide them or their employees with a letter stating who they are and what role they play in an emergency.  

Emergency response vehicles from key utilities sectors are able to use the ‘freight lanes’ at Alert Level boundary checkpoints to avoid queuing.  

Expiry of licenses, Warrants of Fitness and Regos 

The Government has announced that driver licenses, Warrants of Fitness (Wofs), Certificates of Fitness (CoFs), vehicle licenses (‘regos’) and license endorsements that expired between 21 July 2021 and 30 November 2021 are temporarily extended.  

Vehicles on the road must continue to have registration plates (license plates) and still be safe to operate on a public road. Police can continue to order unsafe vehicles off the road. 

Where license plates are not present and it appears to be an abandoned vehicle, councils can take action under their usual powers. 

The issues of any infringement notice should resume after 11.59pm on 30 November 2021.  

Exemption cards for mandatory face covering requirements 

Current exemptions for face coverings include (but not limited to): 

People under the under of 12; 

People with physical or mental health conditions or a disability that makes wearing a face covering unsuitable; or 

The person is communicating with a person who is deaf or hard of hearing and the visibility of the mouth is essential for communication.  

In these cases, people can get an exemption card to show when needed to help communicate with others.  

A formal exemption from the Ministry of Health via the Disabled Persons Assembly NZ (DPA) is not needed. People can self-determine whether they want to use an exemption card. 

Councils have contacted us about ‘dubious’ exemption cards, so we have provided an example of the exemption card from DPA for your reference. DPA are keen for you to distribute it to businesses and business associations due to the issues the ‘dubious’ cards are creating. 

Further guidance for employers and employees on face covering requirements can be found on the business.govt.nz website 

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

There are 15 new cases of COVID-19 in the community, all in Auckland. This brings the total number of cases connected to the current community outbreak to 970, with 604 active cases.  

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. 

Public Health requirements for council meetings  

In last week’s communications, the Response Unit provided guidance on the relevant provisions of the Public Health Order as they relate to council meetings. This advice can be found in the Response Unit update for Friday 10 September 2021, published on the Local Government Response Unit webpage 

Travel across Alert Level boundaries 

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

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. 

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

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. More information of the provisions in the notice are outlined in previous Response Unit updates, which can be viewed on the Local Government Response Unit webpage.