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Auckland Council ready to further escalate COVID-19 response if required

Published: 18 March 2020

The eight further cases of COVID-19 recorded in New Zealand today, with four in Auckland, confirm the risk of the virus spreading, says Auckland Mayor Phil Goff.

“While all the cases are related to people returning from overseas it emphasises the importance of measures designed to constrain cross-community spread," he said.

“Auckland councillors met this morning with the chief executives of the council and all relevant council-controlled organisations to analyse the impact of COVID-19 and current and further responses that may be needed to deal with the spread of the virus.

“Council also considered the impact on council finances and steps necessary to ensure essential services can be maintained if a worst-case scenario occurred.

“What is happening at present is unprecedented in our lifetime, and the fast-moving situation means we need to be ready to constantly lift the level of our response,” Phil Goff said.

“The Ministry of Health is the lead agency and we are acting on and not reinterpreting their advice.

“We have responded rapidly to cancel major events and are ready to take further action should that be necessary.

Ready to respond

“We some time ago set up a crisis team and are ready to respond with assistance, whether that be providing local information or providing facilities that may be needed.

“Council and CCOs in the meantime have taken steps to ensure staff are well informed and are following advice on health protocols including staying away from work when ill, using leave provisions to encourage people to do the right thing and self-isolating when required.

“We have progressively lifted the level of cleaning, using hospital-grade chemicals, we are opening cleaning stations and making sanitisers available.

“Changes in the workplace include encouraging people to work from home if necessary and lowering the density of people in buildings.

“Key workers are in some instances being split between different worksites, so that in the event of any infection we can maintain continuity of essential services.

“Counselling for workers feeling anxiety is also available.

Implications for revenue

“Councillors also considered the impact of lost revenue and additional costs already incurred as the result of COVID-19.

“Revenue losses in some cases will be quite significant. I have foreshadowed that this will impose additional constraints on council spending and that it will mean limited new expenditure in the Budget and possibly deferring initiatives which are desirable but non-essential.

“With many residents and businesses likely to face financial pressures because of COVID-19’s impact on our economy, I will not be looking for higher rates increases beyond those already foreshadowed to compensate for revenue losses,” the Mayor said.

Be kind and wash your hands

“In the meantime, Aucklanders should follow the government’s advice: be kind, wash your hands regularly and stay up to date with official updates.

“The government's new Unite Against COVID-19 website is a useful resource with all the relevant information in one place.”

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