Update - Thursday 16 April 2020

COVID-19 Local Government Response Unit main page

Prime Minister’s announcement on life under Alert Level Three

As you will be aware, today the Prime Minister gave an update on life under Alert Level 3 so that the local government sector, businesses, the community, families and whānau would be able to begin preparing themselves for a possible move from Alert Level 4.

Attached to this update are two tables summarising, at a high level, conditions and restrictions under the different Alert Levels.

As soon as possible the Response Unit will provide more specific and operational detail on what a move to Alert Level 3 will mean for the sector.

However, it is vital that everyone knows we are still under Alert Level 4, and all Alert Level 4 restrictions remain in place.

A decision and announcement when and if there will be a change to the Alert Level 4 status will be made on Monday 20 April.

Key additional COVID-19 messages from the Prime Minister and the AoG National Crisis Management Centre today include:

  • We attacked the disease early and hard by going into lockdown or Alert Level 4.
  • This has put us in a good position to eliminate the disease, bank those gains and to get ready to transition to Alert Level 3.
  • When this decision is made, it will be because we have transmission under control and can tolerate a little more risk.
  • Getting this far has required a collective effort by every New Zealander. 
  • We are all making extraordinary sacrifices to protect the people, communities, businesses and traditions we care about. Thank you.

We will not risk going to Alert Level 3 too early. We will move when we have met four criteria:

  • We know that community transmission is under control, and the transmission rate is very low.
  • We have robust measures at the border stopping new infection.
  • We have tracing and testing capacity to shut down any new outbreak.
  • We have supplies for, and capacity, in the health system.

Under Alert Level Three we will still have significant restrictions on our day-to-day lives. The risk of COVID-19 will have diminished, but not gone away. 

If we are successful in controlling COVID-19 under Alert Level 3 we will be able to move down to Alert Level 2, where there are far fewer restrictions.

Further guidance will be provided on Government websites in the coming days.

If you have any questions, you can contact the Response Unit.

Financial implications of COVID-19 for Councils

Attached to this update is the Finance Workstream’s initial report on possible financial Implications of COVID-19 for councils.
This early snapshot assessment provides information that may help councils make decisions about some of the big finance-related challenges they now face.  We hope it will help councils to:

  • identify key issues and areas to focus on;
  • spot problems early; and
  • craft support packages for their communities and their recovery plans.

The report highlights that there is a lot of variation among councils and that potential impacts of COVID-19 will be equally varied.  However, it is clear that all councils can expect a significant reduction in revenue from fees and charges (i.e. non-rate revenue) from the time the Alert Level 4 lockdown commenced well into 2021.
 Subsequent, more detailed analysis will follow over coming weeks as we continue our joint efforts to help councils to access and understand the data and information they need for recovery and longer-term decision making.
The Finance Workstream acknowledges and thanks the sector for the time and expertise they have contributed towards this report.

Possible reductions in pay levels

Yesterday the Prime Minister announced that she and government ministers would take a 20 per cent pay cut over six months.

This will likely require amendment of the Remuneration Authority Act 1977.

The Remuneration Authority also governs the pay levels of local government elected members.

We know the sector is actively considering the matter of possible pay reductions for some local government elected members.

The Local Government Act 2002 would also have to be amended to allow this to happen.

It is understood that the Government is considering amendments necessary to address these matters for local government elected members.

Information is being provided to ensure that the complexity of the local government context is considered in any legislative amendments.

We hope to be able to update you on progress on this next week. 

All of Government resources for Māori and Pacific communities

The COVID website contains content for our Māori communities all in one place, including advice on tikanga Māori gatherings and resources for whānau and iwi.

There is also a range of content for Pacific peoples including a regular Pacific Peoples bulletin.

All-of-Government community support

A large number of New Zealand sign language videos have been added to the COVID19 website. These will be updated as new information becomes available.

The Government has launched a WhatsApp channel for people to find information about COVID-19.

If you’re not sure what assistance may be available or don’t know who to contact for help, visit covid19.govt.nz or call the free government helpline on 0800 779 997.  

All-of-Government subscription links

As previously indicated, local government communications and information managers can subscribe up to the daily AOG COVID-19 update here.

You can sign up the All-of-Government daily FAQ document.

COVID-19 Local Government Response Unit Webpage

We now have a Response Unit webpage on the Department of Internal Affairs website that is designed to pull together useful information for the sector.

Recent editions of this daily update can be found there and we will link to other guidance for the sector in the coming days.

COVID-19 Local Government Response Unit page on DIA website