Hamilton City Council prepares for alert level 3

Hamilton City Council has outlined changes to how the city will operate in a revised plan following the Government’s announcement that New Zealand will move to Alert Level 3 from 11.59pm on Monday 27 April.

The Council will continue to maintain its essential city services while supporting the health and wellbeing of the community and staff in response to the new alert level.

Some additional essential services will be resuming under Alert Level 3, including the road safety improvement programme, contactless animal registrations, the City Safe Suburban Response Team two-person patrols, the Refuse Transfer Station opening to the public and some construction sites restarting, as long as safe work practices and physical distancing can be maintained.

The chapel at Hamilton Park Cemetery will reopen for services but numbers will be restricted according to the Government’s new guidelines. Up to 10 people only will be able to gather to say their farewells in the chapel and at the graveside, and physical distancing rules will apply for people from different bubbles.

Building inspections will resume to support the construction industry returning to work, while planning guidance will resume site visits to progress resource consents, and for monitoring and enforcement of resource consent conditions, as required.

Hamilton’s parks and open spaces are open at all alert levels, but the city’s playgrounds, skateparks and public toilets will remain closed since the virus can linger on hard surfaces for days.

Community facilities, including Hamilton Zoo, Hamilton Pools, Waikato Museum, Hamilton i-SITE and Hamilton City Libraries, will also remain closed, as will the themed gardens, information centre, carpark and café at Hamilton Gardens. The open spaces surrounding the Gardens can still be accessed for exercise and fresh air.

The city’s popular river paths are open and continue to be busier than usual. Pedestrians are reminded to listen out for cyclists, who should slow down and use their bells. As physical distancing of two metres between people still applies, pedestrians may need to step off the path where it’s safe to do so to allow others to pass.

Previous announcements to the kerbside rubbish collection remain unchanged under the revised alert level. Kerbside rubbish collections of a maximum of two black rubbish bags per household will continue, as will the kerbside glass recycling services reintroduced on Monday 20 April. Plastics, tins and cans are currently unable to be collected due to health and safety concerns around the manual handling of these items after collection when they are sorted.

The Refuse Transfer Station at 60 Lincoln St and the Hamilton Organic Centre in Wickham St will be open from the morning of Tuesday 28th April, although both will be working at a reduced capacity.

The Council’s Customer Services team continue to be available via phone or email. The Municipal Building in Garden Place remains closed until further notice.

Council and committee meetings will continue via Zoom and are open to the public. Meeting agendas can be found at hamilton.govt.nz/agendas

Chief Executive Richard Briggs says Alert Level 3 is essentially a waiting room where the community continues to restrict contact with one another while continuing to keep safe in their bubbles.

“Alert Level 3 will provide an opportunity for some much-needed economic stimulus for the city and it does mean we are heading in the right direction.

However, the Council will still be operating in a fairly limited capacity to keep the community safe – it’s definitely not business as usual and the majority of our staff will continue to work at home as per the Government’s guidelines.

“As we’ve come to appreciate over the last few weeks, COVID-19 is really about the long game and not a sprint to the finish line.”

Mr Briggs says the Council continues to work closely with the Ministry of Health and other lead agencies, as well as the partner organisations, groups and individuals who use council facilities and call Hamilton home.

“We’re working hard with a number of key stakeholders to really kickstart Hamilton once restrictions are fully lifted. We want to ensure we are making a difference to those who are really hurting in the community right now.

Some of the ways we are tackling this are through our 12-point stimulus package, the 23 shovel-ready projects we pitched to the Government early last week and nine further packages of work which focus on medium to longer-term opportunities for the city.”

Hamilton Mayor Paula Southgate says the people of Hamilton should be proud of how they have handled the first four weeks of lockdown and that she was proud of the work done by Council staff to keep the city running.

“This is an exceptionally tough time for many people and their families. Let’s make this time as short as possible by continuing to stay the course and minimise any risk of the virus spreading in our region,” she said.

“We all must play our part by encouraging physical distancing, keeping our exercise local, washing our hands and being kind to one another.”

“We’re showing how resilient and community-minded Hamilton truly is.  I believe we are positioning ourselves to come out a more connected city than ever before.”

A freephone number, 0800 800 405, has been set up for those in our community struggling to get food, groceries, medication or other household items and is available from 7am to 7pm daily.

This service has been set up in collaboration with the Waikato Civil Defence and Emergency Management Group and supports the Waikato District, Waipa and Matamata-Piako communities as well as Hamilton.