21 Mar 2020

Coronavirus: Councils around New Zealand close community facilities

8:27 pm on 21 March 2020

Councils around the country are closing community facilities because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Wellington City Gallery is one of the community facilities that is closing due to Covid-19.

Wellington City Gallery is one of the community facilities that is closing due to Covid-19. Photo: CC-BY-SA-3.0 / Rachel.healy

Wellington is shutting down swimming pools, libraries, recreation centres, community centres, the City Gallery, museums and venues.

Wellington's mayor, Andy Foster, said the city council's emergency welfare team is working with other organisations to ensure food banks can continue if the situation worsens.

The Wellington Zoo and Zealandia will remain open at this stage but with reduced public programmes.

"Our focus next week will be to develop response plans for other priority population groups such aged/elderly and disability - particularly in light of today's advice from the Prime Minister," Foster said in a statement.

"Keep buying from your local dairy, keep ordering from your favourite restaurant - and remember, supermarkets and other essential services will remain open so there's absolutely no need to panic-buy.

"We can get through this together. We must remain calm - Wellington is a community with a strong heart - we're a resilient city. We've overcome major issues in the past and we'll overcome this," he said.

Te Papa Tongarewa is also closed until further notice due to the risk of Covid-19.

In a statement, it said people who visited Te Papa last weekend are being urged to self isolate, due to infected cruise passengers.

Four people from the Ruby Princess, which had docked in the capital on Saturday 14 March, have tested positive for Covid-19.

Te Papa says anyone on its introduction tour at 10.15am or 11am, or who was within one metre of a Te Papa visitor for 15 minutes or more that day, should seek advice and consider isolating themselves. Several Te Papa staff and all tour guides working that day will also have to self-isolate.

Porirua City Council will be closing its community facilities tomorrow, including Pātaka, Te Rauparaha Arena Porirua libraries and pools.

Porirua Mayor Anita Baker said in a statement that "we are moving together in making decisions for our region".

The council office would remain open because it is considered an essential service, she said.

Hutt City Council has moved to close libraries, swimming pools, community hubs, museums, sports facilities, and community centres from tomorrow.

Lower Hutt Mayor Campbell Barry said in a statement that the community facilities are well-loved by people in the region but the action is necessary in order to slow the spread of Covid-19.

"To date we have limited entry to facilities and encouraged people to keep space between each other. Our facilities are visited by thousands of people each week, who are in relatively close contact. It is on this basis we believe a temporary closure is the prudent thing to do," he said.

The decision would be reviewed on a day-to-day basis he said.

South Island closures

Christchurch today closed all of its community facilities which means there will be no public access to libraries, sport and recreation centres, pools, community centres, service centres, the Christchurch Art Gallery and the visitors' centre in the Botanic Gardens until further notice.

Mary Richardson, who is leading Christchurch City Council's Covid-19 Incident Management Team, said in a statement that they wanted "to move early to limit the spread of the virus by closing facilities where people gather".

"This is not a decision we have taken lightly but it is a sensible precaution to take in this fast-evolving pandemic," she said.

Invercargill, Bluff and Gore libraries and Invercargill's swimming pool are also closing today.