144 days ago

Our response to COVID-19 - Transition to alert level 3

Community Engagement Advisor from Greater Wellington Regional Council

Kia ora

Many of you will have heard the Prime Minister’s announcement that New Zealand will move to alert level 3 at 11:59 pm Monday 27 April. Like others around the region, Greater Wellington has been busy preparing for a smooth transition to this new alert level.

This is an overview of how council will operate under alert level 3. There are a few significant changes, including a return to regular timetables on buses and trains and opening most of our parks to vehicles. And while council function is affected by the pandemic, I’ll continue to bring you weekly updates on how we’re responding through this newsletter.

I want to thank you again for your ongoing dedication to stopping the spread of COVID-19. We should feel proud of our effort so far, and heartened to stay the course by remaining at home under alert level 3.

Kia kaha till we meet again…and stay in your bubbles!

Daran Ponter
Greater Wellington Regional Council Chair

Public transport

Metlink will return to full regular timetables on buses starting on Sunday 26 April and trains on Monday 4 May. Fares will continue to be free under alert level 3 for essential travel such as going to supermarkets, veterinarians, pharmacies and other health facilities. Those over 70 should continue to stay home, but may use public transport to visit a doctor or pharmacy. Total Mobility customers will continue to be able to access subsidised fares of up to $80 per trip at this alert level.

We’re asking passengers to please start using their Snapper cards to tag on and off. This will help us gain valuable insight into how the network is preforming now, and when it returns to full service under level 3. If you do not have a Snapper card, you can order one free by calling 0800 555 345.

We’re also requesting that passengers abide by the physical distancing measures in place, even if that means missing out on their first choice train or bus as demands start to pick back up. Metlink’s real time information will be up and running as soon as we enter alert level 3 to help people plan journeys, and we’ll continue to update passengers with any developments on the Metlink website and app.

Ferry services will not return at alert level 3. Metlink is working with the ferry operator for a return at alert level 2.

Environmental management

The shift to level 3 means that our field and operational staff are able to resume more environmental management operations. Our harbour communication station is still working to ensure safe and efficient maritime management for commercial users of our region’s waters. Our Flood Protection staff have been responding to the various flood events across the region and we’ve also had teams out applying nitrogen-free fertiliser to the grazed areas at Battle Hill Farm Forest Park and the western side of Belmont Regional Park. As an environmental protection agency it is important to keep delivering these essential services to the region.

Water

As under level 4, Wellington Water Ltd continues to operate as an essential service to provide clean drinking water and safe wastewater treatment to our communities. Some staff members have been redeployed to bolster the frontline numbers for additional resilience and they are securing supply chains for all critical equipment, chemicals and other materials that keep water services running.

Regional parks

We know exercise and recreation is important, and our parks are available for safe and local access for you and your bubble. At alert level 3, we continue to limit exposure of COVID-19 to our staff and visitors. We are opening most of our park gates to vehicles, and most toilets. Park ranger offices remain closed and there is no camping, no motorised recreation, no hunting or gatherings allowed.

Our park ranger team and contractors will be back working in the parks. We ask that visitors please avoid our worksites, which will be clearly marked.

As well, volunteer activities will not be permitted in our parks under alert level 3. While we value the work of our volunteers immensely, we value their health and safety even more.

Predator free

Under alert level 3, our professional pest animal trappers will be able to resume some their predator control operations. Likewise, our allies at Predator Free Wellington will ramp up work next week, and have already been out this week attending to some essential work as a result of storm damage.

We know our volunteers are eager to get back to it, but under this alert level we are limiting pest control operations to staff only. We ask that our volunteers please continue to follow the government’s advice to stay home as much as possible. If you’d like to help us keep the heat on rats, stoats and other predators, please consider installing a trap in your backyard.

We’ll continue to offer support to conduct small operations that are deemed a matter of health and safety. These include responding to residents’ concerns about triggered traps in Wellington City, and wasp nest removal. To protect the health, safety and wellbeing of our staff and the community, a small team who are operating independently has been approved to respond.

WREMO

The Wellington Regional Emergency Management Office (WREMO) is a key part of Greater Wellington’s COVID-19 response, and is staffed and operated by council officers.

Under alert level 3, WREMO continues to operate seven days a week in order to combat the effects of COVID-19 and share information with the public on how to stay safe, ways communities can look after each other and how to get help for those who need it.

The WREMO helpline is also operating daily from 7am to 7pm and people can reach out for help by calling 0800-141-967.

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