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COVID-19: What Nelson City Council Is Doing To Protect Our Community24 March 2020

On Monday 23 March, the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern raised the coronavirus alert level to stage three, moving to stage four in 48 hours. This will mean the country will be in lockdown for at least four weeks.

This means that everyone in the Nelson community will soon be instructed to stay at home, schools and businesses will be closed and travel will be severely limited.

Essential services such as supermarkets and pharmacies will remain open.

During this difficult period, Nelson City Council will work alongside the Nelson and Marlborough District Health Board (NMDHB) to protect as much as possible the health and well-being of our local community.

Nelson Mayor Rachel Reese says it is now vital for Nelsonians to work together to stop the spread of the virus in our community.

“Coronavirus is a potentially serious disease for everyone, but is especially serious for older adults and people with underlying health issues.

“That is why it’s so important for everyone in our community to listen to the advice given by the Ministry of Health. The actions that young, healthy people take now could protect some of our most vulnerable residents.”

“This lockdown is the best chance we have of containing the virus in New Zealand.”

This is what Council is doing to protect our community, it falls into three categories: maintaining essential Council services, public health and protecting our local economy.

Essential Services:

One of Council’s key responsibilities is ensuring essential services such as water, waste water, crematorium and cemetery and waste management can continue to operate safely and effectively.

Group Manager Infrastructure Alec Louverdis says Council has contingency plans in place for all of our core services, and Council officers are working with contractors to ensure these are now operational.

“For instance, key staff who work at facilities such as the water treatment plant, wastewater treatment facilities and landfill sites have already been physically distancing themselves and avoid large gatherings. Work has been undertaken to ensure we have an adequate supply of chemicals to run these facilities.

“Some key infrastructure teams have been split in two and are working in separate buildings to reduce the risk of key staff becoming sick at the same time.

“With respect to refuse collection, staff are working with all the local companies who collect waste to ensure that rubbish will still be collected.”

The Council has also set up a COVID-19 Incident Management Team that will give us the structure and resource to support faster decision making and communication within Council.

All of Nelson’s community facilities –including libraries, swimming pools, community centres and venues are now closed.

This means no public access to these buildings and also includes our Customer Service Centre on Trafalgar Street.

Libraries have launched a digital only service where users can join from home to get access to thousands of online resources, including ebooks, audiobooks and movies.

To get a digital only membership go to the Nelson Public Libraries website, click the green Join The Library button, then choose Digital Only Membership in the drop down menu.

Public Health:
Council plays a supporting role to the NMDHB who work with the Ministry of Health to plan our region’s response to Covid-19.

Community Based Assessment Centres (CBAC) are set up for Covid-19 testing throughout the region:

  • Nelson: The former Suburban Club building, 168 Tahunanui Drive
  • Motueka: Bridge club room on Tudor Street
  • Blenheim: Netball pavilion at the old netball court at Horton Park, Stephenson Street

Nelsonians with Coronavirus symptoms should phone Healthline on 0800 358 5453 or their GP, and will then be told whether they require Covid-19 testing at a CBAC. Please do not approach a CBAC directly.

Council is also taking the MoH lead on sharing health advice designed to stem the spread of the disease. The latest information regarding hand hygiene, physical distancing and self-isolation can be found at: https://covid19.govt.nz/

The Local Economy:
Mayor Reese says Council is aware that many local businesses will come under pressure as the effects of COVID-19 widen. She says businesses should not be afraid to access the $12.1 billion stimulus package announced by Central Government on Tuesday 17 March.

“I know many Nelson businesses are not accustomed to seeking Government assistance, but circumstances are now different. This money is yours to claim to help your business navigate these difficult times.”

During times of crisis, the ongoing work that Council continues to undertake, can provide reassurance to local businesses.

To help local contractors, who employ large numbers of Nelsonians, Council will move to weekly invoice payments during this uncertain period.

There are plans in place to ensure payment for work completed, even in the event of a serious outbreak in our region.

Council is also aware that many people living in our region may be facing financial hardship over the coming months.

Ratepayers who are worried about being able to pay their rates bill, can contact Council via our Customer Service Centre (03-546 0200) to work out a manageable payment plan.

Working together to Unite Against Covid-19
With Nelson heading into a time of uncertainty, Mayor Reese says we must look out for one another as we prepare to unite against COVID-19.

“We are all connected in one way or another, even if we are being asked to be physically distant,” says Mayor Reese.

“Phone your older or unwell neighbours, find out if you can help them with food or other supplies. Talk to friends and whanau to see if they need support. Kindness is an incredibly powerful way for us to get through this difficult time.

“I have seen this community rally in the past and I have no doubt it will do so again. Read and heed the Ministry of Health guidelines. Please be vigilant with your health and prevention measures.”

Council is following the lead of the Ministry of Health and the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board on how best to keep yourself, and the more vulnerable members of our community, safe and well.

  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or by covering your mouth and nose with tissues.
  • Put used tissues in the bin or a bag immediately.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water often (for at least 20 seconds).
  • Try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects.
  • Stay home if you feel unwell.

Symptoms of COVID-19 are a cough, a temperature of more than 38 degrees Celsius and shortness of breath. If you have any of these symptoms and have been to any countries or territories of concern, or have been in close contact with someone confirmed with COVID-19, call Healthline on 0800 358 5453.

For the latest advice on Covid-19 visit the Government’s website.

© Scoop Media

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