Update - Wednesday 22 April 2020

COVID-19 Local Government Response Unit main page

SOLGM Workforce survey

  • Your council will have by now received a workforce survey sent out through SOLGM.
  • Its purpose is to assist in building a good understanding of  workforce implications for local authorities under the different Alert Levels.
  • In particular the survey is seeking to understand:
  • This survey will provide a better understanding of the scale of any workforce issues and how the Response Unit may support councils in this area.
  • The survey may be repeated periodically to understand if pressures are being managed or changing over time.
    • how councils are planning for the workforce shifts associated with different Alert Levels;
    • what issues they are currently experiencing with their workforce; and
    • what pressures they anticipate as the Alert Level changes.

NEMA’s Local Government Reference Group

  • As communicated on Friday 17 April, NEMA has established a small and nimble Reference Group. The group membership has representation from local government chief executives, elected representatives, and a group controller.
  • This group has begun to discuss expectations of the emergency management function resourcing under Alert Level Three. CDEM Groups have a legislative role in coordinating agencies and supporting local government to manage emergencies across Reduction, Readiness, Response and Recovery with a focus on the four well-being environments; social, economic, environmental and cultural.
  • The economic, social and cultural impacts of COVID-19 are significant and Recovery will be multi-faceted with elements led at both local and national levels. Many of these aspects will be delivered through business-as-usual local government functions. However, CDEM structures, processes and personnel are seen  as providing an effective coordination mechanism.
  • The move to Alert Level 3, and later Alert Level 2, does not change the need for coordination across agencies and management of CDEM related issues. As wider Council services and functions are re-established (in addition to the essential services you continued to deliver), it is important you continue to resource your ECCs alongside other Council services and functions.
  • NEMA are anticipating the pace of Alert Level 3 to be less demanding than Level 4, and that this will reduce the burden on resourcing somewhat, especially after hours.  While NEMA anticipate resourcing requirements will diminish over time, this may be over months, rather than weeks. In the meantime, CDEM Groups will still need to ensure:
    • all functions in the Emergency Coordination Centre are resourced, with particular emphasis on ensuring the objectives of Caring for Communities are met; and
    • readiness is maintained at all times to respond to urgent needs, including a possible re-escalation to higher Alert Levels if there are outbreaks.
  • NEMA are preparing written guidance on what Civil Defence Emergency Management Groups are expected to do under Alert Level Three. This will provide a more complete picture of the expectations of local government and will be distributed when finalised.

Water Quality as we transition through Alert Levels      

  • As we transition through Alert Levels, more businesses/facilities will be re-opening and this may provide an opportunity for drinking-water quality issues to occur upon return to normal service activities. These issues are most likely to arise when water is used for the first time given the water may have been sitting idle in your pipes and stagnated or deteriorated.
  • The Ministry of Health have provided this advice to help you communicate best practice in mitigating this i.e. by flushing taps upon return:
    COVID-19 Drinking Water Advice - Returning to Normal Service (PDF, 563KB)
  • You may wish to promote these practices at council facilities and to your wider community as appropriate.

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.

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

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.