As a country we are now in a level four lockdown that is likely to last at least four weeks. These are extraordinary and challenging times, and it’s important we all play our part and stay home to save lives. NZ Health officials have spelt out the potentially catastrophic impact this pandemic could have on our elderly, disabled and vulnerable immune compromised people in our communities. I know many of you, understandably are feeling uncertain and anxious about the days ahead but please be reassured you are not alone and we are here to help. As National’s Leader Simon Bridges said “It will be tough but generations of kiwis have, throughout history, made great sacrifices to safeguard our way of life. This is our turn.”
The most important thing to do to keep yourself and others safe from spreading this deadly virus is to stay at home, break the chain of infection and only interact with your immediate family and the people you are now in isolation with.
You are allowed to go out for short trips to your closest supermarket, petrol station and pharmacy so there’s no need to worry about access to food, gas and medicine if you need it.
Some of you have already reached out to my office with questions about the lockdown, and I want to reassure you that while my North Shore Electorate and Wellington Parliamentary offices are both now closed for the time being for face to face appointments, we are still available to help you with any issues and questions you may have. The easiest way to get in touch is by email and it would save time if you outlined the issue and included your home address and contact details to: email@example.com. If you are experiencing an emergency situation please phone 111. If you’d prefer to leave a voice mail message, phone my Takapuna electorate office 09 486 0005 and please leave your name, contact address and some details about the issue and we will get back to you as soon as we can.
The scale of this shutdown is historic and not since the Second World War has Parliament been closed and the House is not due to sit again until at least 28 April. In its place, a special Select Committee chaired by National’s Leader Simon Bridges will sit three times a week and question the decision makers to make sure they are acting in the best interests of all New Zealanders. This will be a constructive process and it’s important to have strong scrutiny because these decisions will affect a generation, both in terms of lives but also the billions of dollars our banks and the government will be spending to help get us through these challenging times. Effectively the Committee’s role is to ask the questions that the public want answered and if you are experiencing difficulties and want some answers or have suggestions please email and let me know and I will pass it on to the Select Committee.
If you need help to access the business subsidy or you’re struggling financially or emotionally please reach out, and in this email to you I’ve included the contact details of all the Auckland and North Shore focused agencies I can think of that you might find helpful as the weeks unfold.
If you only want to look at one reliable website this is the best one to keep yourself informed: www.covid19.govt.nz. It’s updated daily with everything you need to know on the government’s latest announcements and what they will mean for you and your loved ones.
Staying home to keep safe and save lives
New Zealanders who work outside essential services must stay at home and stop all interactions with people not in your immediate household.
Rubbish and recycling services continue to function as normal. Check for updates at: www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz or phone 09 301 0101.
Remember whatever you do must be solitary. Only spend time with those who you are in self-isolation with, and keep your 2 metre distance from all others at all times.
You’ll still be able to leave the house to go for a walk or to go to the supermarket or pharmacy, but please do so as little as possible. If you do go out:
- Stay in your local area.
- You shouldn’t do any overnight outdoor recreation of any type.
- The coastguard has asked boaties stay at home and not go out to sea.
- Stay at least 2 metres from everyone you’re not isolating with, its ok to talk but you need to maintain the proper distance.
- Avoid touching high use objects such as handrails if you can, wear disposable or washable gloves and soap & sanitise your hands regularly.
- Walking, biking and exercising in the fresh air is good for your physical and mental wellbeing but there are some restrictions in public parks. This NZ Mountain Safety Council website has some useful guidelines on the great outdoors near you: www.medium.com/@nz_msc/can-you-go-walking-tramping-trail-running-or-hunting-during-covid-19-alert-level-4-9448630eae78
If you’re concerned or have symptoms such as a dry cough or fever or have lost your sense of smell or taste the first thing to do is to get in touch with Healthline’s Covid-19 hotline on 0800 358 5453 as soon as possible. GP’s are no longer seeing patients face to face, but you can still contact your GP if you need them.
At the time of writing this, you can still get a flu vaccine at a pharmacy or your medical centre, but do phone ahead in case things change.
North Shore Hospital has a new temporary visitor policy to keep patients and staff safe. Generally the public will not be allowed to visit patients although exceptions can be made on essential and compassionate grounds eg: a parent or guardian supporting a child or someone in palliative care. The decision will be made by a lead clinician and the visitor will undergo screening before they enter to ensure they are well and not a risk to patients and staff.
For more information refer to: Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS)
Age Concern Auckland will continue to provide phone-based support so you can continue to refer any vulnerable and isolated older adults to them. They can also provide some practical help with essential tasks, such as grocery shopping, running errands and meal preparations. It is crucial that we provide all the support we can during this period of uncertainty. Their North Shore number is 09 489 4975, or you can email them at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The team at Dementia Auckland is still operating to support our community, their number is 0800 433 636. They can provide advice and support services to people living with dementia, as well as their families.
Keeping yourself & others safe
Remember it’s OK to ask for help if you or someone else is in danger. If you think someone could be harmed or may harm themselves, call the Police on 111. Stay as connected as you can and keep a watch out for the safety and wellbeing of children and vulnerable adults. Talk to friends, whānau and neighbours if you need support or to see if they need help. Use social media to keep in touch and check in with each other.
If you see people breaking the rules Crimestoppers have created a Covid-19 specific non-compliance reporting page: www.crimestoppers-nz.org/covid-19-report
The Oranga Tamariki line for concerns about children and young people is 0508 326 459, or email: email@example.com
If you need help and support around family violence and sexual violence access this website for specific information on what services and helplines are available: www:covid19.govt.nz/help-and-advice/for-everyone/family-violence-and-sexual-violence-prevention/
Need to talk? Free call or text 1737 for mental health support from a trained counsellor.
Safe to Talk’s sexual harm helpline is 0800 044334, text 4334, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
International travel and Immigration
New Zealand citizens, permanent residents, residents with valid travel conditions and their immediate family can still come to New Zealand. Immediate family must have a valid visa or NZeTA and travel with the New Zealand citizen or resident family member on the same flight. Travellers with a temporary visa may have to apply for an automatic extension or may be getting one automatically. Immigration rules are changing so you should access the immigration website for specific advice and up to date information:www.immigration.govt.nz/about-us/covid-19
- If you’re currently overseas, the advice from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade is to stay put, as access to air travel is limited but that may suddenly change if the government puts on more rescue flights. Stranded NZ citizens or permanent residents should register with MFAT’s consular website at: www.safetravel.govt.nz/
- If you’re worried about someone who’s overseas the nearest embassy is best placed to help & their 24/7 hotline is: 0800 30 10 30 or +64 99 20 20 20 if calling from overseas. www.safetravel.govt.nz/new-zealand-embassy-locator
I know there has been some confusion defining exactly what an essential business is, for the most up to date list of essential services, go to: www.covid19.govt.nz/government-actions/covid-19-alert-level/essential-businesses/ If you have any queries around essential services you can contact the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE): 0508 377 388 or email: email@example.com
For essential businesses open in Takapuna and how you can help support our local business community please visit the TBBA Takapuna Beach Business Association website: www.ilovetakapuna.co.nz
Auckland University campuses are closed, with online learning beginning on 30 March, there will be no on site exams this semester. Massey University is on a break, and will return on 20 April as planned, when all learning will be online.
The government has brought forward the April primary and secondary school holidays and they are now from 30 March — 14 April. At the end of the holidays, schools will be open for distance learning but not physically open until further notice.
- The Ministry of Education is developing at-home learning resources for educators and families, check out:www.learningfromhome.govt.nz/ for ideas. Support for those without internet connections or devices is being worked on and will be available soon.
If you need to access financial help, there is support available both to businesses and individuals. Go to:www.covid19.govt.nz/government-actions/financial-support/ and see what you might be entitled to.
- Businesses that are affected and closed in the lockdown are eligible for a wage subsidy to enable them to keep paying their staff.
- If you’ve lost your job and need help with essential costs such as food, utilities or rent, WINZ can provide support, and the usual stand down periods for these payments have been removed so you can get help faster: www.workandincome.govt.nz
- Many internet service providers, such as Spark and Vodafone, have removed the data cap so there will be no overage charges for residential customers on a capped, fixed-broadband plan so you can work from home without worrying about paying more for data.
- Banks are operating limited physical ATM branches, if you need to contact them, try calling in the first instance, or check which branches of your local bank are open and for what hours.
If you’re renting, tenancies will not be terminated during the lockdown period, (unless the parties agree or in very limited situations such as property damage). There is an immediate freeze on rent increases and the property owner is not allowed to increase your rent during the lockdown. Tenants who had previously been given notice can stay on if they need to.
For mortgage holders who are affected by the crisis, you’ll be able to access a 6 month mortgage holiday, with payments deferred being added on to the mortgage at the end. Call your bank if this is something you might need.
- If you need emergency accommodation, you can talk to Work and Income: www.workandincome.govt.nz/housing/nowhere-to-stay/emergency-housing.html
Auckland public transport
New public transport timetables have been implemented until further notice and if run by Auckland Transport (AT) will be free of charge to essential workers only.
For the most up to date information on all AT buses, trains and ferries go to: www.at.govt.nz/bus-train-ferry/timetables/
Bus services will largely operate according to weekend timetables. Some services will be removed (such as school buses and Skybus) while services to key medical centres will retain regular or more frequent services: Alert Level 4 - Bus timetables (PDF 512KB)
AT train services will be running to the Sunday timetable with some extra train services added to ensure essential workers can get where they need to be.
Ferries: Birkenhead, Bayswater, Stanley Bay and Gulf Harbour services are cancelled. Remaining services will operate to a reduced schedule: Alert Level 4 - Ferry timetables (PDF 456KB)
Fullers 360 have also advised that they will be providing free essential travel to Waiheke and Devonport. For updates and timetables visit: www.fullers.co.nz/covid-19-updates/
Auckland Civil Defence Emergency Management
Refer to the Covid19 website in the first instance and the Auckland Civil Defence Emergency Management website also has a lot of useful information, including a section on pandemics: www.aucklandemergencymanagement.org.nz
Courts will be undertaking essential procedures only during the lockdown and the Courts of New Zealand website will provide information on court operations: www.courtsofnz.govt.nz/publications/announcements/covid-19-coronavirus/
I hope some of this information I’ve gathered will be useful and don’t hesitate to contact me through my Takapuna electorate office if you need to and you can follow my updates on my Facebook: maggiebarrynz and website: www.maggiebarry.co.nz
In these challenging times it’s important to make sure we are all doing everything we can to cooperate with the lockdown and follow the rules and the best medical advice. The scale of this NZ wide shutdown is unprecedented and it’s essential that we all pull together and all play our part in winning the war against this world wide coronavirus pandemic.
Look after yourself and look out for others in our North Shore community who might be lonely and struggling.
Stay home, stay safe and stay in touch.
Hon Maggie Barry ONZM
MP for North Shore