Local Government COVID-19 Response Update – Wednesday 25 August 2021

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Here’s today’s update

The Prime Minister announced on Monday August 23 2021, that the whole of New Zealand will remain in Alert Level 4 until at least 11.59pm Friday 27 August 2021. Cabinet will reassess this on Friday 27 August 2021. Auckland will remain in Alert Level 4 until at least 11.59pm Tuesday 31 August 2021. This will be reassessed on Monday 30 August 2021.

Updated guidelines for the reimbursement of local authority/CDEM Group welfare costs from NEMA

NEMA has updated their guidelines for the reimbursement of local authority/CDEM Group welfare costs during COVID-19 resurgence.

It includes updated guidelines on ‘Category 2’ costs, including provision for the support for operational costs related to 0800 numbers (where demand cannot be met by existing call-centre arrangements).

There is also an update on support for foreign nationals. MSD funding will only be available until 31 August 2021, thereafter foreign nationals must be referred to their embassy in the first instance.

If the person impacted has absolutely no other means of support, CDEM Groups may provide support on a one-off / limited basis which will be reimbursable from NEMA. However, NEMA will not encourage ongoing support.

COVID-19 Reimbursement Guidelines 25 August 2021 (PDF 270kb)

Spark removes data caps

Spark has removed its data caps for residential and small business customers, after hearing concerns people were reaching their data caps. This will likely add stress to the wireless broadband network at peak times and the company is asking customers to bear with them over the coming weeks

Customers on Skinny Jump, Spark’s not-for-profit broadband service, will also receive an increase to their daily data allowance.

For customers experiencing financial hardship as a result of Covid-19, Spark has a number of support packages in place to help through its financial hardship policy. You can read this policy on Spark’s website.


Extension to deadlines for submitting NMS data to Ministry for the Environment

Some councils have contacted the Ministry for the Environment (MfE) expressing concerns about their ability to collate and submit the required National Monitoring System (NMS) data by 31 August 2021.

In response to the current lock down restrictions and the impacts that has on councils, MfE considers that it is fair and reasonable to allow an extension for councils to submit their NMS data by 1 November 2021.

If lock down restrictions continue through August and September, MfE will revisit the timeframe of 1 November 2021 and may extend it further.

If you have any further questions, please email: NMS@mfe.govt.nz

Public toilet operations under Alert Level 4

Yesterday, Taituarā circulated a 2020 list of all public toilets that were open under Alert Level 4 last year for updating. This is important information for the transport sector, in particular long-haul freight.

There has been a fantastic response and thanks to all that have already provided information for this list.

To any councils who have not yet responded to the list, please either confirm that it is correct or provide updated information.

Vaccinations for essential workers

The Response Unit is working with the Ministry of Health about prioritizing vaccines for essential workers. We will keep you up to date as we know more.

Ministry of Transport

The Ministry of Transport have released several pieces of guidance on Transport and Travel in Alert Level 4: You can read the guidance on the COVID-19 transport information on the Ministry of Transport website.

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

There are 62 new cases of COVID-19 in the New Zealand community, bringing the total number of cases connected with the outbreak to 210. In total there are 198 cases in Auckland and 12 are in Wellington.

If you have cold and flu symptoms, please get tested. Available testing sites can be found here on the Ministry of Health website: Available testing sites, with more being stood up in Auckland.

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.

Mandatory record keeping

On 22 August 2021, the Government announced that COVID-19 tracer app scanning (record keeping) is to be required under all alert levels for everyone 12 and older.

This will come into effect seven days after we change alert levels. The seven-day window provides businesses and other locations where record keeping will be required with time to ensure they have record keeping systems and processes in place.

This means many public locations will need to ensure that visitors keep a record when they visit. This can be done by scanning QR codes with the COVID-19 Tracer App or making a manual record.

Businesses and locations will be responsible for making sure people record their visit. Some locations may have existing measures in place to record visits such as gyms which have swipe card access, and this is adequate to ensure a record is kept.

Ombudsman’s advisory on LGOIMA during COVID-19

The Ombudsman has released an advisory about managing LGOIMA requests during lockdown. There is an emphasis on communicating with the public about any challenges your council may be facing. The advisory can be found here: Ombudsman's statement

A COVID-19 FAQS guide can also be found here: Ombudsman's FAQs. This guide answers questions from agencies and requesters about dealing with official information requests during the COVID-19 emergency.

Epidemic notice remains in force

The following provisions will remain in place until the Principal Notice expires 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; and

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

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