City Community Facilities Gear Up To Reopen
Hamilton City Council staff have come up with some novel ways of ensuring community facilities can reopen under COVID-19 Alert Level 2 without impacting the safety of public and staff.
Hamilton Zoo, Hamilton Gardens, Waikato Museum and Waterworld and Gallagher Aquatic Centre reopen to the public on Friday 15 May. Hamilton City Libraries is partially reopening, also on Friday, with a Click and Collect service and returns available at branches but no browsing for a few weeks.
The Council has temporarily changed opening hours at some community facilities to enable extra cleaning and other maintenance to be done while the public is absent.
Hamilton Zoo will be open from 9.30am to 4.30pm (final admissions 3.30pm) Tuesday to Sunday and closed on Mondays, Hamilton Gardens will open from 10am to 4pm, and all Hamilton City Libraries branches will open from 10am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 12.30pm Saturday. All library branches will be closed on Sunday. Waikato Museum’s hours have not changed. Pool hours at Hamilton Pools have not changed but Waterworld gym has reduced its hours.
Physical distancing between strangers is still a government requirement when the COVID-19 alert level moves down to Alert Level 2 at 11.59pm today.
Two-metre physical distancing will be expected at all Council facilities, with signs and floor markings installed to help maintain this. Visitors will be required to provide their name and contact details at some facilities so contact tracing can be done if necessary.
Surfaces at Council facilities will be frequently cleaned and hand sanitiser will be available for visitors to use. People who are feeling sick or unwell must stay home.
Some city facilities are taking an extra day to put cautionary measures in place and will open on Friday instead of Thursday. Others such as playgrounds will reopen from tomorrow.
The Council’s General Manager, Community, Lance Vervoort, says Alert Level 2 represents a welcome return to more normal operations for staff, who have missed having contact with the community, but it is not business as usual.
“Staff have put their thinking caps on and looked at how we can deliver to our community while still keeping everyone safe. For example, visitors will find themselves moving through Hamilton Zoo and Hamilton Gardens differently from usual because we’ve introduced one-way paths to separate people.
“We also have limits on the number of visitors we welcome to the Zoo, Waikato Museum or Hamilton Gardens’ Enclosed Gardens at any one time, so people get plenty of space to spread out. We want the public to come and enjoy the attractions they love but to do so safely. No one wants to see a new cluster flare up or a return to stricter rules,” Mr Vervoort says.
Hamilton Zoo, Hamilton Gardens and Waikato Museum have set number limits as another means of keeping people physically distant: 500 visitors at any one time at the Zoo, 200 in the Enclosed Gardens and 100 at Waikato Museum. The limits will help ensure people can stay the government-required two metres’ distance from strangers. There is room at all facilities for people to queue safely if there is a wait to get in.
Waterworld and Gallagher Aquatic Centre will have lane ropes up, with no free swimming and a limit on the number of swimmers per lane. The hydroslides and other facilities where physical distancing is more difficult, such as the toddler pools, sauna and spa pool, will remain closed. The gym and hydrotherapy pool at Waterworld will also have a limit on the number of users at any one time.
Hamilton City Libraries has introduced a new Click and Collect service for the first two weeks of Alert Level 2 as an innovative way of getting new books out to customers until they can browse the shelves and choose their own.
The free service starts from Friday 15 May and is available via the libraries website. Customers choose up to three genres and staff will pick a package of books based on this information. Book packs can be collected from the branch nominated by the customer. Collection will be contactless.
Meanwhile, library staff will be processing the almost 60,000 physical items currently on loan. Customers can return books from this Friday, using the after-hours slot at their local branch.
Mr Vervoort says there is no rush to return books as loans have been extended until 30 June and people won’t incur fines before then.
“We are aiming to increase our library services to the public within two weeks, once we have worked through the volume of returns and have contact tracing and physical distancing protocols in place.”
City parks have remained open through all alert levels but playgrounds have been closed and will reopen from Thursday 14 May, along with public toilets and park carparks.
Competitive sport was suspended under previous alert levels, and the Council is now working with clubs, codes and sporting organisations to confirm timeframes for competition to resume. Organisations booking fields will need to submit a plan to show they have processes in place to manage physical distancing and other government requirements.
Hamilton Cemeteries will resume normal office hours from Thursday. Funeral services can now be attended by up to 50 family and friends after the Government today increased the limit on numbers. Public health measures such as good hand hygiene and physical distancing must be met.
Both chapels will be open with chairs spaced to ensure people can be seated safely. Families will now be able to arrange a visit to the cemetery to choose a plot, and ash interments can resume.