Auckland Council has welcomed New Zealand’s move to Alert Level 1 but warns that the impact of COVID-19 will continue to affect the reopening of some of its much-loved community facilities.
All of the council’s 55 libraries, the majority of its pools and leisure centres, and many community venues were reopened under Alert Level 2.
However, Auckland Council chief executive Stephen Town says that staffing challenges created when the council was forced to make tough decisions during the lockdown period means that, despite the move to Alert Level 1, it won’t be an immediate return to 'normal' at some facilities.
“Like so many businesses and organisations around the country, we are not immune to the impacts of COVID-19.
We are working hard to get all of our facilities up and running as quickly as possible so that Aucklanders can enjoy them again, however we need to do that in a way that is safe for everyone.
“Unfortunately, this means in the short term we have reduced services across our pools and leisure facilities.” says Mr Town.
“We’ll be taking a phased approach to the reopening of our spa pools, saunas and leisure pools at some facilities as staffing availability allows and we encourage everyone planning to visit one of our facilities to check our website first to see what’s open.
“In the meantime, we’ll continue to work hard to ensure Aucklanders have access to pool and leisure facilities in their local area and are endeavoring to start as many services as possible in time for the July school holidays. We also plan to reopen the Birkenhead and Otara pools at this stage.
“We know how important it is to have holiday programmes up and running to support our working families and will have most programmes ready to take enrolments within the next two weeks. Additionally, our learn to swim programmes will resume in Term 3.”
Mr Town says the council remains committed to playing its part to conserve water while restrictions are in place, which means that some additional changes have been made throughout the council network, including the closure of showers in our pool changing rooms, drinking fountains and outdoor showers.
A phased reopening is also underway with venues for hire, and the move to Alert Level 1 means this will happen more quickly than anticipated, with the majority of venues expected to open by the end of June.
“Like our pools, our current staffing levels mean we’re unable to open all of our venues straight away,” says Mr Town.
“We are, however, working closely with local boards so that we can best meet demand within communities. And we’re working with our community-based venue partners to provide affordable activities for everyone to enjoy.”
The move to Alert Level 1 will also see some much-loved programmes return to Auckland Libraries early next month, including Wriggle and Rhyme, StoryTime, RhymeTime and language classes.
All of the council’s service centres will also be open from tomorrow, including those based in local board offices.