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COVID-19 – QLDC Mayor Announces Facility Closure

Following the Government announcement yesterday that Aotearoa New Zealand is now at Covid-19 Alert Level Two, QLDC has taken the view to act swiftly around the inevitable closure of public facilities.

“From 8pm (close of business) tomorrow our two recreation centres, the Wanaka Recreation Centre and the Queenstown Events Centre (including the Alpine Health and Fitness Gym and Frankton Golf Centre), the Arrowtown Pool together with all district libraries will remain closed for further review on 6 April 2020. Additionally all Council halls including the Arrowtown Athenaeum Hall, Lake Wanaka Centre, Queenstown Memorial Hall, Luggate Hall and all other smaller facilities will also be closed with all bookings cancelled until further notice,” Queenstown Lakes District Mayor Jim Boult announced today.

“This means that as of now libraries will not be accessible to the public. Enabling the other facilities to close on Monday at end of business allows a brief window to allow the community to be appraised of the closure rather than an immediate lock out. It is a confronting move but this Council is moving promptly to put the health of its community at the forefront,” Mr Boult said.

The district is now faced with two formally confirmed cases and more probable cases, with tracing placing Covid-19 positive individuals as having been in or moved through the area.

“There is some inevitability that the bow wave is growing. Out of respect for the challenge ahead for our local health providers, everything that we can do proactively to stem that bow wave must be done,” he said.

The closure did not apply to camping facilities and hubs, some of which were and would be necessary for self-isolation, although stringent sanitisation rules were being applied.

“At this time mental health and the well-being of our communities is paramount but we have to find new ways of looking after ourselves. We are incredibly fortunate that our environment offers a multitude of opportunities to get outside and continue to exercise, whilst maintaining physical distancing,” Mr Boult said.

QLDC Chief Executive Mike Theelen offered an assurance about affected staff. “I know there will be community care for our staff. We will continue to support our staff and at this time all jobs remain secure. Where possible staff will be looking at innovative ways to continue to give our communities a level of service, be that online or through other means or re-deployed into other parts of the organisation or response,” Mr Theelen said.

One example was that Alpine Health and Fitness members can already exercise remotely by accessing a range of group fitness classes via Les Mills On Demand. For more information call 03 450 9005 or email qecgym@qldc.govt.nz.

Library members can also continue to access a range of online resources, all completely free. These include an expanded range of e-Books and e-Audio books, PressReader for current magazines and newspapers, and Beamafilm for movies and documentaries. For more information visit https://codc-qldc.govt.nz/library-online. Online may not be suitable for older members of our community and Council will be looking at ways of accommodating their needs.

Mr Theelen offered an assurance that across all divisions the Council will work hard to continue to deliver service to the community under the new level two requirements – avoiding domestic travel; working from home if possible; and encouraging those with medical conditions and over 70 to stay at home.

“Fortunately Council worked promptly to trial and implement working from home measures last week, which enabled us to fine tune this approach. We are in very good shape to continue with this measure and continue to serve our communities,” said Mr Theelen.

The key points are below:

· At this point we are continuing to provide ‘in person’ customer facing support to our community but ask that the community now considers moving to doing business where they can online www.qldc.govt.nz or by calling or emailing customer service (Queenstown 03 4410499; Wanaka 03 4430024 ). This is likely to be reviewed daily.

· Anyone entering Council offices will be expected to be well, undertake physical distancing and sanitise hands before undertaking any interaction.

· QLDC's Emergency Management Team is continuing to closely assess developments from the Government, Ministry of Health and District Health Boards. We are also liaising with local clinicians, emergency services, the business sector and CDEM Otago. Communications and useful links are regularly provided here: www.qldc.govt.nz/covid-19.

“This is an unprecedented and challenging time but we will continue to keep you informed and updated as much as we can. This is a dynamic and rapidly-evolving situation, and we do ask for patience if there are possible delays in processing times or changes to how we deliver services. The safety of our staff remains my priority,” Mr Theelen added.

Council is working closely with local health providers and one clear message from them is please do not visit your doctor if you believe you have COVID-19. If this is the case, call Healthline on the number listed below.

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