WHAKATANE District Council has created a Pandemic Planning Team and, as at midnight last night, an Emergency Operations Centre to optimise its response to Covid-19.
Mayor Judy Turner said the pandemic team was staying connected with key agencies such as the police and the Ministry of Health to make decisions related to the council’s response to Covid-19.
It is headed by council general manager community services Mike Naude and has representatives from various council departments including human resources, IT, welfare planning and operations, infrastructure and communications with others brought in as necessary.
It was created in February in response to the escalation of the coronavirus epidemic, now the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ms Turner said the pandemic team had reversed council’s earlier decision to close all public toilets in the district and instead decided to keep eight key toilets open for the use of truckers and homeless people.
She said essential workers like truckers are not permitted to use supermarket bathrooms.
“We realised we had nothing open for them and would be creating another type of health issue if we did have them all closed,” she said.
“They will be cleaned regularly to Covid-19 standards.”
The pandemic team is in charge of ensuring critical council services keep operating, distribute Ministry of Health messages to the staff and public, provide clear information to council contractors, and provide staff and the public with advice on welfare,cultural and other support.
The team has also enabled the adoption of the Council Pandemic Plan, the updating of the council’s Business Continuity Plan and a review of its Crisis Management Plan.
The team will continue to meet remotely throughout the lockdown.
Ms Turner said the Emergency Operations Centre would deal with everything consequential to the Covid-19 lockdown but not necessarily directly related.
The EOC will support the Group Coordination Emergency Centre who report to the National Emergency Management Agency.
This will provide a structure to manage the increasing requests for information, assistance and the growing demand for a coordinated response across the district. This includes with iwi, social service providers, businesses and contractors. The EOC will operate virtually.