Council Activates COVID-19 Pandemic Response Plan

The South Taranaki District Council has stepped up its response and activated its Pandemic Response Plan following the stricter border controls put in place by the Government on Monday (16 March) to try and stem the spread of COVID-19 cases in New Zealand.

STDC chief executive, Waid Crockett, says while the risk of widespread community outbreak in NZ is still assessed as low, the Council’s Response Plan has been activated to ensure essential services are kept operating should the community and council staff be widely affected.

“We want to be prepared to make sure we can best serve the community during this situation and have established our Pandemic Response Team (PRT) who meet daily, to monitor and action the Pandemic Response Plan and the Ministry of Health’s (MoH) latest advice and guidelines,” says Mr Crockett.

“One of our key strategies is to promote basic hygiene messages at our public facilities and through our regular communication channels for both staff and members of the public (see below). According to the MoH these basic hygiene measures are the most important way to stop the spread of this virus.

As well as following the MoH’s hygiene guidelines we’re putting in place more cleaning and sanitising for our facilities, including installing hand sanitiser and wipes for our staff and residents to use.

At this stage, the MoH does not propose changing arrangements for smaller public meetings or gatherings (of less than 500 people) so for the time being we are continuing with Council meetings as scheduled, albeit with hygiene related guidelines,” he says.

However, following the Government’s recent directive prohibiting events or gatherings of 500 plus people, a number of events in South Taranaki have been cancelled or postponed e.g. the NZHL XRACE which was going to be held in Hāwera on Sunday. “We will be keeping a watching brief on developments in the events space and our team will be working with event organisers on a case-by-case basis.

Right across the organisation we’re following the government’s requirements around self-isolation for any of our staff members who are returning to New Zealand from overseas travel and we have brought forward our annual flu vaccinations for all staff to 2 April. While this vaccine is not for COVID-19 it will have the desired effect of reducing pressure on the health system.

Council’s key responsibility is to maintain the essential services which keep our communities running so we are making preparations for the possibility of staff needing to work from home, and we are looking at how we can ramp up efforts to further limit social contact if required. This graduated approach will be monitored by the Pandemic Response Team based on the MoH’s most up-to-date advice,” says Mr Crockett.

In the meantime, we encourage residents, where possible, to conduct Council business via phone (0800 111 323), on our website (www.southtaranaki.com) or by email (contact@stdc.govt.nz)

The Council is following the advice and guidelines of the MoH for all matters related to COVID-19.

Basic Hygiene Measures

hand hygiene – wash your hands regularly with soap and water, or cleanse with hand sanitiser
stay at home if you are sick or feel unwell
cough or sneeze into a tissue or your elbow and then perform hand hygiene as described above
clean surfaces regularly
physical distancing – eliminate physical contact such as handshakes and try to stay at least 1 metre away from other people where possible

Check the Ministry of Health website for the latest information on the current situation in New Zealand: https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus

For COVID-19 health advice and information, contact the Healthline team (free) on 0800 358 5453

For other non-health related support call 0800 779 997.

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