'Health comes first' Aucklanders respond to closure of pools, libraries

By Jessica Tyson

Concerns for the spread of the Coronavirus have prompted the Auckland Council to close the citys' libraries, pools and recreational centres from today.

Over 250,000 people visit libraries in Auckland every week, therefore the announcement made today will restrict the public's access to some educational services.

For stakeholder and STP Manager at Whitecliffe College Vau Atonio, the closure of 55 libraries is a price the public is willing to pay.

“The library, even though it’s helpful and provides wifi and things like that for our students, at the end of the day health comes first.

"We can always catch up on knowledge, we can always catch up on work that’s outstanding, but we can’t catch up on whānau if something happens.”

The Art Gallery, Maritime Museum will also close.

Rangatahi Shahab Karimi says, “It’s a good thing because it’s going to stop the spread of the virus”

Emily O’Sullivan says, “I think it’s a bit bad because I play water polo so we train in the pools and stuff. At the same time it’s good because they're keeping precaution of to stop the virus from spreading.”

Auckland Councillor Alf Filipaina says the decision was made based on Prime Minister Jacinda Arderns' announcement to limit gatherings to 100 people.

“The other reason for us is to make sure that our staff, that their safety is paramount - same with our community safety.”

Auckland mayor Phil Goff has also assured no jobs will be lost.

“These decisions will not affect the employment of permanent staff, full or part-time. Where staff time is freed up, we will look at how they may be able to assist in other areas such as support for District Health Boards, where pressures may grow if the impact of COVID-19 worsens,” he says.e

Feedback from the community shows decisions by the government are helping the public to feel safe.

Rangatahi Robert Clive thinks New Zealand is doing better than other countries are dealing with the virus.

“Our border patrol is strong now, very strict and I like how they incorporated the rule if you come from another country other than the Pacific you have to isolate yourself for two weeks.”

Atonio says the most important thing is keeping the community healthy.

“The sooner we can either make a way through COVID-19, or a way that we can safely go about our day and not have to lose any business and not have to lose any educational opportunities, then the better it's going to be for everyone.”

The council says it will reassess the situation after two weeks.