Tairāwhiti on lockdown: What you need to know

updated By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

New Zealand is now operating at the Governments COVID-19 alert Level 4 - Eliminate. A State of Emergency has been declared, giving authorities the powers not normally available to them such as the possibility of military patrols.

Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) director-general Sarah Stuart-Black said there would be no tolerance for people who do not self-isolate.

Following the declaration of a State of National Emergency, Gisborne District Council CDEM group controller Dave Wilson can now exercise all emergency measures under the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act.

The notice also invokes powers under the Health Act 1956, the Social Security Act 2018 and the Immigration Act 2009. Some of those measures include the conservation and supply of fuel, closing roads, prohibiting and regulating traffic, and excluding people from certain places.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern emphasised that life will be different for everyone in Aotearoa, but that the measures are necessary to contain the spread of the virus.

As of 9.30 am on Thursday morning, 78 new cases have been announced today, bringing to the total combined total to 283. There are currently seven people in hospitals around the country; three in Te Whanganui a Tara; 2 in Nelson; 1 in Waikato; 1 in Te Taitokerau. They are all in stable condition, and none of them are in Intensive Care. A total of 12683 tests have been completed to date.

A total of 27 individuals have recovered from COVID-19.

Tairāwhiti has no confirmed cases of COVID-19 and The Gisborne District Council (GDC) is reiterating the Prime Minister's message to self-isolate for the next four weeks. This, they say, will ensure that everyone in the region has the best chance of getting through this.

Gisborne District Council chief executive Nedine Thatcher Swann is suspending penalties attached to general fines that may be due during the lockdown period of at least four weeks. 

Essential services including supermarkets, dairies, gas stations, banks, pharmacies, and doctors' rooms, among others, will remain open.

However, panic buying has forced retailers to impose etiquette around how many people are allowed into shops and limits on what people can buy. The GDC insists that these restrictions are not necessary if people remain calm.

Nedine Thatcher-Swann is encouraging people to remain calm and reminds the community there is no need to panic buy.

"We urge everyone to be patient and considerate. Council understands this is a challenging time - we're also working to ensure our district comes through this in the best possible way", Thatcher-Swann says.

All of GDC summer and freedom camping areas are now closed, along with all council playgrounds, the Olympic Pool, HB Williams Memorial Library and local theatres.  Council's face-to-face services have closed but the GDC website has plenty of information on navigating our services online.

Customer service is operating remotely and can be contacted by phone on 0800 653 800 or email at services@gdc.govt.nz.

The GDC is imploring residents to adhere to the recycling guidelines - particularly around not putting tissues, wet wipes or other contaminated non-recyclable material into recycling bins.

Kerbside rubbish and recycling across Tairāwhiti will continue, "Continue to wash plastics, glass and tins, squash plastic and cardboard, clean everything and take tops off bottles and tins. Don't overfill the recycling bin. Rubbish bags with tissues and wipes should ideally be double-bagged", says Council. The GDC is also reminding people to never flush rags or wet wipes down toilets as it causes sewage overflows.

Transfer stations on the East Coast will remain open. 

The Animal Control team will only be responding to urgent requests for service and decreasing patrolling until further notice.  Stock managers and owners are asked to
ensure stock and pets are securely fenced-in and off the State Highway for the entire duration of the lockdown period.

Animal shelters remain in operation during normal working hours however, social distancing protocols are in place for animal collection.

Residents are reminded the nation is in a 'COVID-19 alert Level 4 - Eliminate' as well as a National State of Emergency.

The message from the Prime Minister, to those who are not in essential services, is for people to stay home in self-isolation, to 'break the chain' and stop the spread of the virus.