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Waikato Regional Council Reopens Its Doors Under Alert Level 2

Waikato Regional Council will be almost fully operational under Alert Level 2, including reopening its offices and delivering public facing services.

“We’re excited that tomorrow [SUBS: Thursday, 14 May] we can open up the work we do with and for our communities,” said Waikato Regional Council chief executive, Vaughan Payne.

“There are some roles that are more difficult to do remotely, so the move to Alert Level 2 means we’ll have potentially 90 people who’ll be back in the office from Thursday.

“But we’ve proven over the last seven weeks that we can, by and large, operate remotely. So, in line with the Alert Level 2 guidelines, we’re asking staff to remain working from home if they can, and encourage meetings and interactions with each other, stakeholders and customers to continue to be virtual.

“For those back in the office, safety will be paramount. We’ll be ensuring good hygiene practices, physical distancing and contact tracing, and asking staff and visitors to stay home when sick.”

Mr Payne said the council had “taken a good look at the government guidelines, and our own standard operating procedures, and by and large we’re able to operate almost normally”.

“Unfortunately, there are some activities we simply can’t do right now because the safety of staff and the wider community will be compromised. That’s things like community meetings and workshops due to the 10 person and 2-hour limits,” he said.

It’s also affecting the council’s Ruben the Road Safety Bear programme. “I know Ruben is missing the kids, and they’ll be keen to get him back in the classroom, too. But we’re waiting for schools and early childhood centres to get into the swing of normal business, and then we’ll work with them to see how we can roll our road safety programme back out,” Mr Payne said.

“On our BUSIT network in Hamilton we’ll be restarting more trips and adding services at peak times to help with school and commuter travel. But while there are more drivers available under Alert Level 2, there are not enough yet to enable us to return to the normal weekday timetable in the city,” he said.

Mr Payne warned that with more people expected to travel by bus at level 2, “we’ll do our best to get you where you need to go, but physical distancing requirements mean we’ll only be able to carry around 40 per cent of our normal capacity”.

“The new physical distancing guidelines require the seat next to you to be free, unless you’re travelling with someone you know. Contact tracing is also important, now more than ever, and every person travelling on our buses must log their journey either through busit.co.nz or by calling 0800 205 305,” he said.

Regional services that connect to Hamilton will run to their normal timetables, and all BUSIT services will continue to be free until further notice. The BUSIT counter at the Transport Centre on Bryce Street will reopen on Monday, 18 May.

Due to restrictions on meeting room numbers, council meetings will continue to be held virtually for the time being with the ability to accommodate those councillors who prefer to be in the building. These meetings are being recorded and published online at waikatoregion.govt.nz/agendas as soon as practicable after the meeting.

© Scoop Media

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