Covid-19: response update from Mayor Andy Foster

21 March 2020

Following on from the Prime Minister’s message at lunchtime today, I want to give Wellingtonians an update on the City Council’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

This is a fast moving situation so this is the first of a series of updates for you from me.

The Prime Minister has underlined the gravity of the situation and has focused on the absolute need for people to limit their physical contact with each other – particularly those over the age of 70 and those with pre-existing medical conditions or low immunity.

In that light, and due to the fact several more cases of Covid-19 have been reported in the Wellington region today, we have decided to close most City Council facilities until further notice.

These include swimming pools, libraries, recreation centres, community centres, the City Gallery and our museums and venues.

The Zoo and Zealandia will remain open for the moment – but with reduced public programmes.

We have been in touch with our counterparts at our neighbouring councils and they are also closing their facilities.

I have daily meetings with Wellington City Council’s pandemic response team of senior managers representing our essential services including transport and infrastructure and community welfare.

I am also in contact with the region’s other mayors and Greater Wellington Regional Council Chair Daran Ponter.

The City Council’s pandemic response team is also working with the regional Emergency Coordination Centre (ECC). This has been activated.

The City Council’s Emergency Welfare Team has activated and is working with the ECC, District Health Boards and community organisations to prepare for an escalation of the Covid-19 situation.

This includes working with food-bank operators to ensure they can operate if the situation worsens.

The Emergency Welfare Team is also putting in place arrangements to accommodate individuals and families who do not have their own accommodation for self-isolation.

Our focus next week will be to develop response plans for other priority population groups such aged/elderly and disability – particularly in light of today’s advice from the Prime Minister.

Finally, I just want to remind Wellingtonians that you have an essential and crucial role in getting the city and region through the Covid-19 situation.

First – look after yourselves and stay aware - follow the advice of the Ministry of Health, listen to the radio and keep watch on social media.

Most importantly, keep checking the Government’s dedicated website covid19.govt.nz or check the Wellington City Council website – wellington.govt.nz

Second, look after your whanau, friends and neighbours – stay in touch with them and help them out – but follow advice on social distancing and, if you’re not feeling well, stay at home and stay isolated.

I also fully endorse the #Love Local campaign launched by WellingtonNZ and The Dominion Post. It is essential that we keep supporting local businesses because they are already doing it tough.

Keep buying from your local dairy, keep ordering from your favourite restaurant – and remember, supermarkets and other essential services will remain open so there’s absolutely no need to panic-buy.

We can get through this together. We must remain calm - Wellington is a community with a strong heart – we’re a resilient city. We’ve overcome major issues in the past and we’ll overcome this.