Update - 21 Tuesday April 2020

COVID-19 Local Government Response Unit main page 

Rates rebates statutory declarations by audio-visual link or telephone

  • An immediate modification order has been made to the Oaths and Declarations Act 1957 to expressly allow a statutory declaration to be administered or taken using an audio-visual link or telephone instead of in the presence of the person making the declaration.
  • This will allow rates rebates applications to continue while Covid-19 restrictions are in place, as the statutory declaration requirement in the application process can be fulfilled via audio-visual or telephone.
  • The process requires the applicant to sign during the audio-visual link or telephone call and then send the signed document (or a photograph or scanned copy) to the person taking the declaration for them to sign in turn.
  • Please continue to keep us informed of specific difficulties you, or your communities, are having with rates rebates so that we can consider any further changes that may be necessary.
  • This immediate modification order came into force on Friday 17 April 2020. It will be revoked when the Epidemic Preparedness (COVID-19) Notice 2020 expires (currently 25 June 2020, unless extended or revoked earlier).
  • You can access a copy of the Epidemic Preparedness (Oaths and Declarations Act 1957) Immediate Modification Order 2020 here: http://legislation.govt.nz/regulation/public/2020/0063/latest/whole.html#LMS337268

NEMA’s Local Government Reference Group

  • As communicated on Friday 17 April, NEMA has established a small and nimble Reference Group with the aim to:
    • Provide local government input into the All-of Government and NCMC advice that support New Zealanders through COVID-19;
    • Provide Emergency Management and Local Government perspectives to wider response planning and delivery;
    • Ensure that the response to COVID-19 remains well coordinated and managed through the response and recovery phases; And help us (NEMA and DIA) to;
      • Inform and test thinking on complex, local government related, issues at pace and in a confidential manner
      • Provide insights and improvements to planning and implementation activities that manages risk and unintended consequences for Emergency Management and Local Government
      • Identify critical resourcing and pressure points that could impact on communities.
  • As always, getting the right balance of expertise on small reference groups is complex. We are grateful to have the following five individuals on our reference group to ensure diversity of local government perspectives, North and South Island representation, metro and rural perspectives, experience of emergencies, experience in formal CDEM roles – Joint Committee members, Coordinating Executive Group members/Chair, Controller, elected members, Chief Executives and Senior Council experience:
    • Cr. Stuart Crosby (Bay of Plenty Regional Council),  
    • Mayor Sam Broughton (Selwyn DC),
    • Monique Davidson (Central Hawkes Bay DC),
    • Sue Bidrose (Dunedin City Council) and
    • Roger Ball (Nelson City Council).

Influenza inoculations

  • We are aware that there has been some concern in the sector over the availability and prioritisation of influenza inoculations for local government essential services workers to protect them from the seasonal flu and support the continuity of essential services during the Covid-19 event.
  • While the stay-at-home, isolation and social distancing conditions of Alert Levels 4 and 3  are expected to reduce the risk of normal flu spreading, we have been liaising with the Ministry of Health on access to influenza inoculations for essential workers. We hope to be able share related information with the sector in the near future.


  • Parliament will meet on Tuesday 28 April and at other times throughout the scheduled three-week sitting block ending on Budget Day.
  • Sitting days will include Question Time and COVID-19 related legislation.
  • How often Parliament meets and the duration of each day’s sitting has yet to be fixed and may vary depending on the business to be completed on that day.
  • There will be reduced numbers in the House in accordance with the social distancing and other rules and guidance at the appropriate level.

Select Committee business:

 What transition to Alert Level 3 means for councils 

  • Yesterday the Prime Minister announced that we will be moving to Alert Level 3 at 11.59pm on Monday 27 April.
  • It is vital that everyone knows we are still under Alert Level 4 until that time, and that all Alert Level 4 restrictions remain in place.
  • The Alert Level 3 will then remain in place for two further weeks before Cabinet reviews how we are tracking and makes further decisions on 11 May.
  • Alert Level 3 enables more businesses to operate where they can do so in a safe way. We acknowledge that this may not look substantively different for local government as many of our operations were maintained as an essential service under Alert Level 4.
  • Guidance and FAQs on council services and operations at Alert Level 3 can be found at https://www.dia.govt.nz/Local-Government-COVID-19-Response
  • This guidance may help you to consider what Alert Level 3 means for specific operations/services.
  • We are keen to ensure this guidance is fit-for-purpose and aligned across New Zealand businesses as Level 3 is put into practice. If you have any enquiries around council services/operations at Level 3 please send these to the Response Unit LGCGcovid19response@dia.govt.nz or your regular SOLGM/LGNZ/DIA contacts.

Communicating the transition to Alert Level 3

  • As the nation prepares to transition to Alert Level 3, now is the time to begin communicating with your communities about what Alert Level 3 may look like for your services.
  • You may wish to update your websites and social media and clearly communicate changes to services your communities may need to be aware of ahead of time. One example would be if you plan to resume monitoring paid on street parking.
  • For further updated All-of-Government information please go to www.covid19.govt.nz

Resources on life under Alert Level Three

  • Information on life under Alert levels 3, 2 and 1 is now available on COVID19.govt.nz
  • 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. Visit here for more information.   
  • The Government has released the Golden Rules for businesses. Visit this link on the Covid19 website for more information.  
  • The Ministry of Health also has specific infectious disease control advice for workplaces here.
  • The guidance and FAQs for councils services (https://www.dia.govt.nz/Local-Government-COVID-19-Response) reference establishing ‘work groups’ for those staff that must work in pairs/groups. These groups are intended to ensure staff are exposed to a consistent set of their colleagues. The groups must be able to operate safely and are not exempt from the above requirements.

COVID-19 Alert Level 2

  • The immediate focus for the sector must be on anticipating, preparing for and managing a return to Alert Level 3 at 11.59 next Monday 27 April.
  • However, we are aware that a subsequent move to Level 2, whenever that comes, is likely to have greater implications for the sector than the move between Alert Levels Four and Three.
  • The Response Unit, and in particular its essential services workstream, will be working with sector representatives and central government agencies later this week and next to map out the detail of the changes this move will entail.
  • We anticipate being able to share guidance on councils services and operations at Level 2 in time for the  sector to make appropriate adjustments for this change when it occurs.    

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.
  • The webpage can be found at https://www.dia.govt.nz/Local-Government-COVID-19-Response