Council closing offices and libraries


    THE Southland District Council will close all its local offices and libraries while the region is placed at Red in the Covid 19 traffic light system.

    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called an unscheduled press conference on Sunday to announce that New Zealand as a whole would move to Red after cases of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 were found in the community.

    Southland District Council chief executive Cameron McIntosh said the measure was implemented because most of its libraries and area offices had few staff.

    ‘‘We are limited in resourcing this if they get sick,’’ he said.

    ‘‘Our number one aim through Red is to provide our services to our communities as much as possible and so to do that, while considering staff health and resourcing, we are having to do things a wee bit differently.’’

    A service of click and collect would be in place as well as contactless home delivery for people that require assistance, he said.

    ‘‘Instead of wandering through the library, you just have to ring or go online to order them.”

    Mr McIntosh said staff from local offices and libraries would be available for information by phone to residents, while all other council’s facilities, including toilets, playgrounds, parks, reserves and cemetery, were open and would continue to be cleaned and maintained.

    The council’s halls were also still open and available for hire but patrons must take responsibility for managing the government requirements and capacity under the traffic
    light system — 25 people if no vaccine pass was required and 100 people if vaccine passes were required.

    ‘‘Omicron’s ability to transmit very quickly to a lot of people means we need to manage our staff resourcing very carefully to allow us to continue to do all of these things when the
    virus does come south and people start getting sick.’’

    Invercargill City Council confirmed its facilities would remain open but with reduced capacity at some of them.

    A council spokeswoman said the main change was at Splash Palace, with its Liquid Cafe offering table service only, meaning all food and drinks would be brought to tables by

    Vaccination passes continued to be required at the Invercargill City libraries and archives, Splash Palace, He Waka Tuia, the Council Chambers, Rugby Park and parts of the Civic Theatre.

    People attending the Civic Administration Building ground floor customer service area, Bluff service centre and library, Bluff Municipal Chambers and Animal Care Facility would not require vaccination passes.