More Horizons Regional Council services brought online under Alert Level 2

Horizons Regional Council staff have returned to the office and the field during COVID-19 Alert Level 2.

Horizons chief executive Michael McCartney says most of council’s staff began to work from home on 24 March, with a small number physically remaining to help operate the Emergency Coordination Centre (ECC) on behalf of the Manawatū-Whanganui Emergency Management Group.

“Other staff continued to support essential services such as emergency response, passenger transport, emergency consents, responding to serious environmental incidents, and assisting with the planning for regional recovery,” says Mr McCartney.

“As the country transitioned from Alert Level 4 to 3, more functions such as our environmental data monitoring, flood protection inspections, freshwater management, biosecurity, land management, and water quality and quantity science came back on line.

“Now, with further restrictions lifted, staff have been able to return to our service centres and field sites from today. This includes staff resuming their normal roles after serving in the ECC for over 7-8 weeks.

“The health and safety of our staff and customers remains the utmost of importance. All returning to work staff will have COVID-19 standard operating procedures to adhere to and will undertake hazard management and induction prior to recommencing their roles.

“This also means we have had to limit our Regional House reception hours to 10am to 3pm, and for now are keeping our other service centres in Woodville, Marton, Whanganui and Taumarunui closed to the public.

“Our freephone number remains available 24 hours and can be called on 0508 800 800.

“Visits to landowners will be done with the appropriate personal protective equipment, physical distancing and contract tracing in place, while other external meetings will only be held by exception.

“Horizons Regional Park, Tōtara Reserve, is open for those wishing to explore the walking tracks, however the camping ground remains closed until Labour Weekend.

“Council’s proposed 2020-21 Annual Plan has also been out for feedback. This week, feedback will be summarised and presented to our councillors for consideration at their next Regional Council meeting on 26 May 2020.

“As we begin to understand what the new normal means for our organisation and for the communities we serve, our priorities now include regional recovery.

“Collectively, our region has done great work stopping the spread. It’s time to begin focusing on our economic and social wellbeing. Not only does this include working with our regional partners on identifying shovel ready projects and initiatives to create jobs, it’s about continuing to make the Horizons Region a great place to live, work and play.”

Image: A view of the Pohangina River from Tōtara Reserve’s Fern Walk