The Prime Minister announced the details this afternoon and overall it was very encouraging, particularly around reopening of businesses, recommencing some social and recreational activities, and the ability to travel domestically.
Obviously the decision to leave Alert Level 3 hasn’t yet been made – hopefully that will happen on Monday following the afternoon Cabinet meeting.
The Prime Minister described Level 2 as designed to get as many people back to work as possible, but with the principle of ‘Play it safe’. That means everyone should stay at home if they’re sick. We need to maintain physical distance, and remain vigilant around hygiene. Eradicating the virus remains utterly critical.
Really importantly, retail will be able to reopen under Level 2, along with cafes, bars and restaurants – as long as people are seated, separated, and with a single server – the three S’s. It is critical to know who you have been in contact with, just in case somebody is diagnosed with Covid-19.
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This is great news for our city, for business, and for jobs.
Schools will also reopen when we go to Level 2, as well as public venues such as markets and museums, albeit with hygiene and distancing protocols.
For the Council, the team are hard at work looking at how we can reopen our facilities like libraries, pools, community centres and sports facilities. You’ll be the first to know the details when we can release them.
All of this is really welcome news for Wellingtonians and Wellington businesses, who have been doing it tough for the past six weeks. The road to recovery will be a long one, but seeing just how restrictions will ease under Level 2 provides some light at the end of the tunnel.
Interestingly, a discussion document out of Greater Wellington yesterday suggested Wellington – because of the nature of our workforce – may be in a better position to get through the coming economic downturn than many other parts of the country.
The Government has indicated we will get 48 hours’ notice before any move between Alert Levels, which could mean we get to Level 2 as early as 11.59pm next Wednesday. Fingers crossed.
Locally, Councillors and I today agreed to put forward a wide range of temporary street changes that could be rolled out over coming months subject to Government funding assistance.
As you know our response to Covid-19 has provided a rare opportunity to experience and enjoy our streets with more people out walking and cycling in their neighbourhoods. The Innovating Streets Fund, run by Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency, will meet 90 percent of the cost of any projects approved, so it’s a great opportunity for the city.
We had a lot of community input at the meeting, and it was really good to hear the different – and very passionate – points of view that people had.
We agreed on seven projects, including a footpath extension in Stout Street to provide more space for people coming from the Railway Station; a range of bike lanes across the city; plus a shared path on the Miramar Peninsula between Shelly Bay and Scorching Bay. If approved for funding, these will be subject to a traffic resolution process, which will provide a two-week period for affected parties and others to comment before Councillors make a decision in June.
Finally, tomorrow marks the start of the consultation period for our draft Annual Plan – please make sure to have your say. Details will be on our website and social media channels from tomorrow.
That’s it for today, keep up the great work everyone. I’ll be back tomorrow morning with a special update.