Residents urged to stay home as DCC staff soldier on

Bars and cafes in the Octagon have closed as part of the nationwide lockdown. Photo: ODT files
Bars and cafes in the Octagon have closed as part of the nationwide lockdown. Photo: ODT files
Dunedin residents are being urged to do their “civic duty” - by staying home - while DCC staff and contractors continue to deliver essential services during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins. Photo: supplied
Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins. Photo: supplied

Mayor of Dunedin Aaron Hawkins reiterated the message today, as residents prepared to enter their first weekend of a  lockdown of at least four weeks designed to stifle the spread of the coronavirus.

“There aren’t too many times in your life when staying at home is considered the greatest civic duty, but that’s exactly the situation we’re in," Mr Hawkins said.

“People have asked a lot of questions about where they can and can’t go to exercise during the lockdown period. For the best advice go to Covid19.govt.nz, but if in doubt? Don’t.”

Council chief executive Sue Bidrose said a suite of essential services were continuing, provided by council staff and contractors now either working remotely, operating from the Civic Centre or in the field.

That included the DCC call centre, which was still operating out of the Civic Centre and staffed by Customer Services Agency staff.

With the closure of the council’s front counter reception to halt the spread of the virus, the call centre (03) 477-4000 was the best way to contact the council with questions about council activities or services.

The council’s building consent team was also now also able to provide building consents services through to completion, she said.

The council was also in close contact with its community housing tenants to ensure their welfare, she said.

Freedom campers were also being well catered for in the city, she said. Those needing accommodation during the lockdown were being put up in motels.

DCC chief executive Sue Bidrose. Photo: ODT
DCC chief executive Sue Bidrose. Photo: ODT
Elsewhere, complaints about delays for motorists on the roads - caused by Barnes Dance pedestrian crossings activating even when not being used - were being addressed, she said.

She also reiterated a plea for residents not to flush wet wipes down toilets, saying this was causing blockages and burst pipes and threatening to cause a breakdown of the sewage system.

Dr Bidrose acknowledged the impact the lockdown was having on people, but said the city was well placed to ride out the next few weeks of disruption.

“While we’re all still a bit stunned with how quickly life has changed in the last week or two, I’ve been gratified to see how well all our planning work has prepared us for this sort of event.

“Our teams are confident that we can keep providing services that are so important for our residents for the duration of the lockdown – work that usually goes on un-noticed by most, but you sure notice if we don’t do it!

“And can I pass on our thanks for all the messages of support from the community too - it helps when our people are having to work in this riskier environment.”

DCC infrastructure services general manager Simon Drew also reiterated council staff and contractors were working hard, in difficult circumstances, and asked for the public to show their support.

“DCC and our contracting partners are working hard, with much personal sacrifice, to maintain essential services while also trying to minimise further risk of COVID-19 community transmission. 

“If you see these essential service workers, please be kind and considerate and acknowledge your appreciation with a thumbs-up or wave.”

The public could expect to see council staff and contractors out performing a range of essential services, from replacing street lights and cleaning mud tanks to collecting rubbish, maintaining the water network and a host of other duties.

All DCC public facilities and freedom camping sites remained closed, and council events cancelled or postponed. Rubbish collection would continue but recycling services were on hold.

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