Sanchia Jacobs

The Central Otago District Council is stepping up measures to ensure services and facilities will continue despite the inevitable disruption coming with Omicron.

CODC Chief Executive Sanchia Jacobs said public services – including essentials like water and waste services – will continue under red traffic light settings. Public facilities including Council-operated pools and district libraries will also remain open, with vaccine passes required.

However, Ms Jacobs cautioned that a level of disruption was likely to be inevitable for some CODC services as Omicron spreads and more people contract the virus.

“Our staff are no different to anyone else, and we will have to adapt if and when Omicron comes through our organisation. We are asking for our community’s understanding and patience as we work through this together.”

CODC has been operating with just 50% of staff in the office at any one time since the last lockdown, while the other 50% work from home. “We are making full use of the technology that enables us to be mobile and work remotely,” said Ms Jacobs.

From Monday 31 January this practice will be extended and all staff who can work from home will be encouraged to do so more often. In addition, a workplace bubble system is being implemented and contingency plans have been developed for business continuity and to ensure delivery of critical roles in the event of an outbreak.

“At the forefront of our thinking and planning has been how we reduce the risk to our staff as individuals, to business units, to service delivery and to the community we serve,” Ms Jacobs said.

“Despite this planning and change in how we’re working, locals should be prepared for possible temporary facilities closures or reduced levels of service if we simply don’t have the people power.”

For the foreseeable future under red, meetings with external stakeholders will be held online, and Council and community board meetings will be held via Microsoft Teams videoconferencing and livestreamed.

Customer walk-ins at Council offices and service centres could still happen, but appropriate safety measures would be in place and all customer-facing interactions would require masks to be worn throughout. To reduce interaction, people are encouraged to make use of the customer services phone line (03 440 0056) or website online services forms https://mycodc.codc.govt.nz/do-it-online. Settings in place for CODC services and public facilities would continue to be reviewed as Omicron spreads, in line with Government advice, to ensure facilities remain safe for both the public and staff. While the Ministry of Health is the lead agency responding to the pandemic, Council will continue to help inform the community by sharing important messaging on changing requirements and mandates, as well as updates on levels of service.