Update - 5 May 2020

COVID-19 Local Government Response Unit main page

COVID-19 Response (Further Management Measures) Legislation Bill

The COVID-19 Response (Further Management Measures) Legislation Bill was introduced this morning.

As advised in our email of Wednesday 29 April, the following changes relating to local government legislation are included in the Bill:

  • Streamlining the process for amending a long-term plan – so that, where an amendment to the long-term plan is needed as a result of COVID-19 response or recovery before the 30 June 2020 deadline for adopting an annual plan, the consultation document can be adopted without an audit report if necessary to meet the deadline.
  • Public notices - amending the Local Government Act 2002, Local Electoral Act 2001, Local Government (Rating) Act 2002 and the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987 to remove the strict requirement that a public notice be placed in a newspaper circulating in the district, but requiring internet publication in all cases. There is a risk that disruption to local newspaper distribution during the COVID-19 response may make it unreasonably expensive or ineffective to publish in newspapers.
  • Special Consultative Procedure - adding flexibility so that, to the extent that is reasonably necessary in the circumstances, the consultation period can be reduced below the current minimum of one month and/or hearings of submitters are not required.
  • Revocation of bylaws – temporarily suspending the provisions in the Local Government Act 2002 and Freedom Camping Act 2011 that automatically revoke bylaws after 2 further years if they were not renewed within the required period. The suspension of these provisions will be in place until 30 June 2021 meaning that any bylaws that would be automatically revoked before this date will continue in force until then.

 The Bill makes two minor changes to the RMA to allow for:

  • RMA hearings to be held by audio link, video, or other remote access technology.
  • Certain documents to be made available online or for hard copies to be purchased on request instead of being made available for physical inspection. This applies to those documents that the RMA requires be available for physical inspection in places that are closed or have restricted access during lockdown.
  • These changes will have backdated effect from 25 March 2020 and expire on 31 October 2021.

The Bill will be immediately referred to the Epidemic Response Committee for consideration and is intended to be passed by 15 May 2020. Please note that the Bill may be subject to change during the Parliamentary process – we will keep you updated of any changes through this email as well as providing further information on the changes where required.

General situation update and the “Trans-Tasman bubble’’

Today was the second day running when there were no new cases of COVID-19 reported.

Prime Minister Ardern said that while New Zealanders should be proud of the discipline and commitment that has allowed the lockdown strategy to “break the chain’’ of the disease, she also urged people not to jeopardise these efforts.

While we remain in Alert Level 3 her message and that of the campaign against COVID-19 remained: Stay home, stay in your bubble and practice safe distancing.

The Prime Minister also spoke of joining Australia’s National Cabinet meeting today.

She emphasised the close and important trade, tourism and familial relationships between the two countries.

In a joint statement released late this afternoon, Ms Ardern and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that New Zealand and Australia  are committed to introducing “a trans-Tasman COVID-safe travel zone as soon as it is safe to do so’’. They agreed to:

  • Commence work on easing travel restrictions between Australia and New Zealand.
  • The arrangement would be “put in place once it is safe to do so and necessary health, transport and other protocols had  been developed and met, to ensure the protection of public health.’’

Read the full statement on the Beehive website. 

Guidance on council services at Alert Level 2

The Prime Minister yesterday noted that no decision has yet been made on a change to Alert Level 2. The announcement of a decision is expected on Monday 11 May.

She indicated she will give further details on Thursday on what a move to Alert Level 2 will mean.

We thank you for your patience as we continue to work on providing guidance on council operations and services at Alert Level 2.

SOLGM tested a DRAFT set of guidance last week; we note this guidance is still being refined with central government agencies and is subject to change.

We would like to acknowledge those of you who have been engaged in this process with us: it is your expertise that will ensure this guidance is fit for purpose.  

We can assure you we are working to have this guidance finalised ahead of any change in Alert Level and hope to be able to provide this specific guidance by the end of Friday this week.

When local government guidance is finalised we will distribute it via this email and publish it on the COVID-19 Local Government Response Unit webpage.

In the meantime, a general principles approach to the different Alert Levels, including Level 2, can be found under “Alert system’’ at the COVID-19 website. We would note, however, that this central guidance may evolve in the light of lessons from the transition to Level 3.

For the moment we remain at Alert Level 3

Information on life under Alert levels 3, 2 and 1 is available on COVID-19 website.

A wide range of new content has been added to the business.govt.nz website regarding workplace restrictions at different alert levels.

Worksafe has provided "Transitioning from Alert Level 4" advice including the necessary health and safety requirements for businesses. Read more information on the WorkSafe website.   

The Government has released the Golden Rules for businesses. Read more information on the Covid19 website.

The Ministry of Health has provided updated information for those managing other health conditions during COVID-19. Read more information on the Ministry of Health website

The Ministry of Health also has specific infectious disease control advice for workplaces.

Local Government Representative in the Fusion Centre

NZ Police have been working with MBIE, Worksafe, Health and MPI to develop and implement a COVID-19 compliance model to ensure a common approach to compliance with the COVID-19 Alert Level restrictions.

This compliance model includes a Fusion Centre with agency representatives from across government to coordinate responses to compliance issues at Alert level 3 and 2.

The Response Unit has been working with NZ Police since the Fusion Centre was stood up on Tuesday 28 April to determine the best way local government can be represented in this function.

We are pleased to confirm Mark Pattemore from Wellington City Council has been nominated through SOLGM as a local government contact for the compliance work of the Fusion Centre. We would like to thank Mark in advance for the role he will play in providing a link through to the wider local government sector and the Response Unit.