Our Wellington

News | 16 February 2021

Keeping Pōneke safe during Alert Level 2

As soon as Alert Level 2 was announced on Sunday 14 February, Wellington City Council’s teams kicked into action, with changes to services and facilities implemented to ensure the city remains a safe place to live, work and play.

We spoke with some of our managers and frontline workers about what Alert Level 2 means for their service, what processes are in place to protect staff and the public, and how Wellingtonians can help by playing their part.

A love heart drawn in the sand with the words 'we' and 'Wellington' written on either side.

Pools, ClubActive and Recreation Centres

Recreation Facilities Manager Mathew Bialy says it’s great Council’s leisure centres can remain open at Alert Level 2, but it’s important everyone follows the guidelines, and if anyone is feeling unwell, he asks that they please stay home.

He says everyone should sign in using the Government’s Covid Tracer App, or leave their details at reception. And if possible, he requests that people get changed and shower at home – only using the changing rooms if they really need to. 

“To help keep our numbers within the Government guidelines, it would be appreciated if there was just one spectator per swimmer,” Mathew says.

“We will have an increased cleaning routine to help ensure everyone’s health and safety.”

 For updates please keep checking our Facebook pages and website.

Wellington City Libraries

Libraries and Community Spaces Manager Laurinda Thomas says Wellingtonians have been very understanding about the extra precautions put in place under Alert level 2.

“Everyone’s cooperation means we can continue to welcome people safely to our libraries and available community spaces with a minimum of disruption.”

Laurinda says the teams are ensuring everyone scans or checks in as they arrive, while also limiting the number of people who visit so physical distancing is easier.

“All sites have sanitiser available, and we’re carrying out extra cleaning and using PPE, like masks. We’ve restricted use of things like newspapers, and cash handling, to avoid cross-contamination. Plus we run a very tight ‘if you’re unwell, stay home’ policy!”

Don’t forget that library customers can also access a range of online resources at wcl.govt.nz/elibrary. This includes online storytimes, ebooks, newspapers, movies, and courses.

Native bush to the left and a park bench on a stony path to the right, as the sun sets behind.

Parks and Gardens

Myfanwy Emeny, Open Space and Parks Manager, encourages everyone to keep active during Alert Level 2.

“All our parks and open spaces are open and keeping active and healthy is more important than ever, for both our physical and mental health. We want to support everyone doing this safely, so please remember to manually record where you have been when there isn’t a QR code available."

Find out where Wellington's parks and reserves are here

Road works

Transport Manager Bradley Singh says our roading teams and contractors will continue to ensure roads are maintained and kept in a safe and serviceable condition during Alert Level 2.

“At this stage, customers can expect normal services to continue. We will respond first during major events such as storms and to clear slips, manage surface flooding and undertake repairs that may be required.

“Having been in this position before, we have well-defined processes to get us through Alert Level 2.

“If we end up moving to Alert Level 3, we will still continue to provide the same services but with greater emphasis on ensuring we adhere to the Alert Level 3 COVID-19 protocols. However, due to the extra precautions we’ll have to take, ultimately it may take longer to get things done.”

Consenting Team

Halley Wiseman, Resource Consents Manager, says customers are being given the choice of meeting either virtually or face-to-face with appropriate physical distancing. People applying for a resource consent are also encouraged to use the online portal.

Building Compliance and Consents Manager Chris Scott says building inspections are continuing, with Government precautions followed.

 Sites we are attending need to have a COVID-19 control plan with signage, hygiene/wash stations for when everyone enters and exits, registration and COVID-19 scanning to sign into sites, and physical distancing measures in place.

“We will be ringing ahead of inspections to check they have their COVID-19 protocols in place. If they need further guidance, we encourage them to look at the CHASNZ online guidance.

 "We are continuing to process building consents and are contacting customers to see if meetings can be virtual, otherwise Ministry Of Health guidelines are followed.”

Jamie Shackleton, Senior Advisor Community Developments, heads the Community Engagement Team.

Community Welfare

Jamie Shackleton (pictured above) is Senior Advisor Community Development and leads community development at City Housing.

“Most of our 40 activities across the city do not run during Alert Level 2, so we can remain super vigilant about physical distancing. We’ve been contacting volunteer coordinators and community workers, and putting up notices, to ensure everyone knows what’s happening and to give them notice to cancel the groups.

“The services that are still operating need to change the way they run significantly to be able to ensure physical distancing, along with the ongoing hygiene and contact tracing practices for everyone’s safety.

“These services include community groups distributing food from Kaibosh and Fruit and Vege Co-ops to about 160 households across five housing complexes, as well as Emerge’s two mental health wellbeing groups that offer critical supports during a stressful time." 

Jamie says the Granville Fixery in Berhampore, which is run by tenants and a community minister, is one example of an inspiring community network.

“During Alert Level 2 last time, they offered a space for neighbours to come and talk – from a safe distance – if they were isolated or needed help. They also made masks for all of their neighbours who needed one.”

Council meetings

Senior Democracy Advisor Cyrus Frear says Council meetings will still go ahead, however some Councillors will attend via Zoom. Around the Council table, chairs are spaced and the councillors attending can sit with a safe distance between them.

Some seats in the Council Chamber have been removed so members of the public can sit two metres apart.

All oral submitters asking for a hearing are emailed and offered the opportunity to join the meeting via Zoom instead (which we only do upon request).

See the Council meetings calendar and find the live-stream link here.

Emily Taylor-Hall, in her high-vis orange vest, smiling with the Southern Landfill and surrounding hills behind her.

Rubbish and recycling

Waste Operations Manager Emily Taylor-Hall (pictured above) is in charge of our rubbish and recycling collection services, which are all operating as usual. 

“The Southern Landfill is open, but with restrictions. The Transfer Station capacity is reduced by 50 percent to allow for physical distancing, and we’re asking that people make contactless payment at the kiosk, where possible.

“Contact tracing is in place, and we are noting down vehicle registrations of Landfill users for this purpose. The Tip Shop and Recycle Centre are open, with physical distancing measures in place.”

Customer Contact Centre

During Alert Level 2, Customer Services Manager Carol Wahrlich says it’s pretty much “business as usual” for the Contact Centre, who are responding to calls 24/7.

“One thing we did notice was that emotions were running high with some of our customers. Our frontline team have done an amazing job handling these situations with empathy and understanding – and working to get a good outcome for the customer. 

“Our Customer Service Representatives will continue to support customers at all hours. They do need to be abreast of the many changes to services and information and the COVID-19 website is a great resource for them.”

Animal Control and Licensing

Helen Jones is in charge of our Public Health team, which looks after everything related to hospitality and our animal welfare services.

This includes all food and alcohol license applications, and providing support to businesses with the alert levels changes, such as how they will need to adapt. Helen says hospitality businesses must keep groups of customers separated, seated, and served by a single person at Alert Level 2, with a maximum of 100 people at a time.

Our Animal Control team will continue to pick up stray dogs and respond to complaints and concerns.