COVID-19 FAQs

We've put together some common questions we receive from our community about COVID-19 and the corresponding answers. If you can't find the answer you're looking for please visit covid19.govt.nz, phone (06) 366 0999 or email enquiries@horowhenua.govt.nz

Rubbish and Recycling

Is the kerbside rubbish collection service operating during Alert Level 2?

Yes, this service is continuing as normal. 

Is the kerbside recycling collection service operating during Alert Level 2?

Kerbside recycling collection services have resumed, following the normal schedule. To find out when your next collection date is please visit our Check my rubbish and recycling collection date page

Are waste transfer and recycling stations open during Alert Level 2?

Transfer stations are open to the public. Restrictions continue to apply to ensure safe practice (ie no more than two vehicles in at a time, no cash payment available). Car registration numbers will be recorded for contact tracing purposes.

Recycling stations in Levin, Foxton and Shannon open at Alert Level 2, and mobile community recycling stations have been reinstated.

Rates and charges

What should I do if I can’t pay my rates?

The COVID-19 pandemic is a rapidly evolving situation and has already significantly impacted our community.

As a council we are continuing to provide essential services to our community such as water, waste water, rubbish collection, our cemeteries and emergency management. Additionally, we will continue to deliver business continuity in our other activities where we can.

Rates pay for those services which are essential and ensure council can still deliver as many activities as possible, despite the circumstance.

We are conscious of the impact the current environment has had on many families, including their ability to pay rates. We are largely governed by legislation in this matter however we are considering what options are available to us.

Our next rates invoice will be with you in May for payment in June. If you are experiencing hardship please contact Council by emailing rates@horowhenua.govt.nz, or calling 06 366 0999 as soon as possible, so we can help you.

You may also be eligible for a rates rebate or support through Work and Income’s Accommodation Scheme. You can find more information about these in the questions below. 

What is a Rates Rebate and how do I apply for one?

A rates rebate is a reimbursement of your rates. To be eligible, you must be:

  • Named as a ratepayer for that property, and;
  • Living at that property on 1 July 2019.

If you are receiving NZ Superannuation, WINZ benefits or your combined income is within a certain threshold you may be entitled to a rebate of up to $640.

You can find out how to apply on our Rates Rebates page, or call us on 06 366 0999.

I’m facing hardship but am not eligible for a Rates Rebate, what other support is available?

The Accommodation Scheme assists those with accommodation costs, including homeowners seeking help with their rates. Homeowners must occupy the house that they are paying accommodation costs for as their own home and payments will depend on a person’s financial position, accommodation costs, family circumstances and where they live.

You can apply for the Accommodation Scheme through Work and Income’s website or by phone on 0800 559 003. 

Parks and facilities

Will Council’s main office be open in Alert Level 2?

Council’s main office opens from Monday 18 May. Opening hours will be 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, to allow time for the public area to be sanitised each morning.

Restrictions will apply to ensure safe practice:

  • Customer details will be recorded for contact tracing
  • A time limit of two hours per visit applies
  • Maximum of 10 customers at one time to maintain safe physical distancing
  • Toilets will be closed
  • Please use sanitising stations provided, maintain physical distancing, and do not enter if you feel unwell.

If possible, please contact us by phone on 06 366 0999 or email at enquiries@horowhenua.govt.nz in the first instance to help maintain physical distancing on site. We also have lots of services and information here on our website.

Our main Call Centre hours are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 9am to 5pm, and 9:30am to 5pm on Wednesdays. All phone calls outside these hours will be answered by our Afterhours service.

Are libraries and community centres open at Alert Level 2?

Libraries open from Monday 18 May. Shannon Library will remain closed for refurbishments until early June.

Te Takeretanga o Kura-hau-pō will be open from 10am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. Youth Space and the Library Café remain closed to the public.

Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom will be open from 10am to 4pm daily. Millside Café will open from Thursday to Saturday.

Restrictions will apply to ensure safe practice:

  • Maximum of 100 people at one time to maintain safe physical distancing
  • Some programmes and resources may not be available
  • Customer details will be recorded for contact tracing
  • Children 14 years and under must be accompanied by an adult.

Are swimming pools open at Alert Level 2?

Levin Aquatic Centre will re-open on Monday 18 May for a limited number of land-based fitness classes only, due to maintenance being undertaken on pools. 

Restrictions will apply to ensure safe practice:

  • Payments by Paywave only
  • Customer details will be recorded for contact tracing
  • No club or group bookings. 

From Monday 1 June, when pool maintenance is complete, further services will be available, including a limited Streamline Swim School timetable. Reduced hours will operate and further restrictions will apply to ensure safe practice.

For more information, please visit our Aquatics Horowhenua website.

Foxton Heated Pools will remain closed for winter until September.

Can I go to the beach or park?

Yes, you can go to the beach or park, or gather with a group of no more than 10 people. Keep 2 metres away from other people or groups.

There is no cap on total numbers of people at a beach or park, but if it is crowded, go home. This is because it’s difficult to keep your distance, and there is no reliable way to trace everyone if illness occurs.

Are public toilets open?

Public toilets are open at Alert Level 2, with increased cleaning services at high-use facilities.

Can I take my children to the playground?

Playgrounds are open at Alert Level 2. Please observe two metre physical distancing and hygiene precautions.

Can I exercise my dog at Kowhai Park?

Our parks are still open, including Kowhai Park. However, we have removed the gate at Kowhai Park to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. We recommend walking your dog on a leash. 

Compliance

How can I report a breach of Alert Level 2 restrictions?

If you have concerns about a lockdown breach, you can report it to Police online at 105.police.govt.nz.

Will Council continue to respond to noise control and animal control complaints?

Yes, Please contact us on 06 366 0999 or enquiries@horowhenua.govt.nz if you wish to report an issue.

Understanding Alert Level 2

What does Alert Level 2 mean?

For information about New Zealand’s four-level COVID-19 alert system and what the current alert level means for you, please visit the COVID-19 website

What is contact tracing?

Health services use contact tracing to find people who may have been exposed to an infectious disease – that is, anybody who may have come into contact with a person carrying the infectious disease is traced and, potentially, tested to see if they also have the disease. There are two types of contacts – close contacts and casual contacts.

At Alert Level 2, certain businesses are required to keep a record of customers that come on to their premises to enable contact tracing to be carried out easily, if required. All individuals are encouraged to keep a personal record of where they have been and who they have seen if they are out and about.

The information on contact tracing records can only be provided to the Ministry of Health or relevant district health board in your area on their request for tracing people who may have been exposed to COVID-19. It cannot be used for any other purpose. The information should be kept secure and private from other customers.

Contact tracing information should only be kept for 8 weeks. Businesses are encouraged to provide a simple privacy statement explaining to customers why they are collecting the information. The Privacy Commissioner has further guidance on what this could include on its website.

What are the rules about gatherings?

Gatherings are allowed at Alert Level 2, but there are limits on the number of people, and there are several measures people should take to keep everyone safe.

The most important measure is to prevent mingling and close contact between people who don’t know each other.

At the initial stage of Alert Level 2, the maximum number of people allowed at a gathering is 10 (except for funerals and tangihanga). This limit will be next reviewed by the Government on 25 May based on case numbers at the time and public health advice.

For more information about gatherings, including specific types of gatherings, please visit the COVID-19 website.

What is a gathering?

A gathering is:

  • Any private or public event where a number of people come together for a specific purpose in the same place for a prolonged time. 
  • Any function such as a party wedding, funeral, tangihanga, religious celebration, or spectators watching sports or music events (this isn’t an exhaustive list).

The following are not gatherings:

  • People at offices or work sites, or on public transport
  • People at supermarkets, retail stores, malls, cafes, bars or restaurants
  • People in educational facilities, hospitals, or prisons (all of which have their own measures in place to prevent transmission)
  • People at public venues, such as a museum or library
  • People going to a park or a beach for a walk where other people are present.

Gatherings in private homes

Under Alert Level 2 you can come together with friends and family at your home. However, private gatherings at your home also create a risk of transmitting COVID-19, and there are measures you should take to reduce that risk. Health measures around physical distancing and hygiene are just as important in your home as they are out and about.

If you are having people over to your house:

  • Keep it to a maximum of 10 people (if there are already 10 or more people living at the house, no additional people can attend a gathering there).
  • Don’t have anyone there with symptoms of a cold or flu
  • Wipe down surfaces regularly (bleach is effective)
  • Get everyone to wash their hands regularly
  • Be very careful while preparing food, and provide individual serves (not a buffet)
  • Don’t share drinks or utensils
  • Be a responsible host.

Gatherings not held at a private home

If a gathering is at a public or private venue and not at home, the organiser is responsible for making sure that the following measures are met:

There are no more than 10 people (excluding staff, such as waiters, kitchen staff, marriage celebrants)

  • For funerals and tangihanga, the limit is 50 people (excluding clergy and funeral directors)
  • Everyone should be seated or have an allocated space, and if possible, seat numbers allocated
  • Keep 1 metre between individuals or groups of people who don’t know each other
  • Keep a register of the contact details of everyone who attended
  • People with cold and flu-like symptoms should not attend
  • Wipe down surfaces regularly with disinfectant
  • Provide good facilities for regular and thorough hand washing (with soap and water) and drying. 

Can I attend religious services?

People can attend gatherings in controlled settings outside of the home, including religious services. Restrictions for gatherings apply.

  • There can no more than 10 individuals within a place of worship (excluding clergy, imams, rabbis and any administrative personnel)
  • Records of participants must be kept to allow for contact tracing
  • Physical distancing of 1 metre and personal hygiene measures must be observed at all times
  • If more than one area is being used (for example, a building and a marquee), each area can have a maximum of 10 worshippers. The people in each area cannot have contact with each other. That means each area must have its own facilities for washing, entrances and exits, bathrooms, kitchens, etc.

The above applies to prayer and self-reflection at houses of worship, including churches, mosques and synagogues.

When do I need to self-isolate or stay home?

Self-isolating and staying home are keys part of our fight against Covid-19. We must all do our part to protect New Zealand by following this advice.

Staying home is recommended:

  • if you feel unwell. If you have flu-like symptoms, call Healthline or your GP for advice on what to do
  • if you or someone in your bubble is at higher risk if they get COVID-19.

 Self-isolation is required if you:

  • are told to do so by health authorities because you have come into contact with someone who has COVID-19
  • are told to by your health provider for other reasons
  • have tested positive for COVID-19. Stay in self-isolation until you’ve been cleared by a health professional. 

Can I play sports at Alert Level 2?

Community sports, including contact sports, are allowed under Alert Level 2, so long as conditions on gatherings are met. This means, initially, there can be a maximum of 10 people involved in the game, including both teams, umpires, coaches and potentially any spectators.

There must also be contact-tracing measures in place and personal hygiene measures should be followed. This includes washing hands with soap and water before and after each game, or using hand sanitiser if this is not possible, and regular sanitation of shared equipment such as balls, sticks etc. People who are sick with colds or flu should not take part in training or games. They should contact their GP or Healthline and be tested for COVID-19.

Sporting bodies will be working on how venues like local netball courts will work, so make sure you check up on these arrangements beforehand.

Sports teams can train so long as they meet the relevant conditions on gatherings (no more than 10 people as above), have contact tracing measures are in place as above. Personal hygiene measures must be followed, including washing hands before and after each training, or using hand sanitiser if this is not possible, and regular sanitation of shared equipment such as balls, sticks, tackling bags, etc.

Can I go surfing, boating, fishing, mountain biking, hunting or tramping?

You can do your usual recreation activities.

If your recreation activity requires gathering, then the gathering is limited to no more than 10 people (e.g. no more than 10 people on a group tramp).

Can I send my kids to school?

At Alert Level 2, all children and young people can go to school or Early Learning Services. The only exceptions are children or young people who are sick or have any COVID-19 symptoms, are in isolation, or are awaiting for the result of a test.

For more information about education at Alert Level 2, please visit the Minstry of Education COVID-19 page.

Business

Can I open my business premises?

Yes, at Alert Level 2 all business premises can open and customers can enter, including cafes, restaurants, bars, and hairdressers, if they can meet public health requirements.

It is your responsibility as a Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU) to do this safely and to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, and to follow relevant public health and WorkSafe guidance. This must include:

  • Keeping a register of all workers at the premises each day and the times they start and finish
  • Keeping workers 1 metre apart where practicable
  • Providing appropriate handwashing facilities if food or drink is being consumed
  • Limiting, and regularly disinfecting, shared surfaces (like doors, tables, EFTPOS).
  • Ensuring none of your workers come to workplaces with cold or flu-like symptoms.
  • Asking contractors and customers with cold and flu symptoms to come back when they have been symptom free for 48 hours.

For more information about what Alert Level 2 means for your business, please visit:

There is a free helpline to provide all New Zealand businesses with advice and to connect them with additional support. To find out more call all 0800 500 362 (North Island), or 0800 50 50 96 (South Island). 

Where can I get help if my business has been significantly impacted by COVID-19?

Employers affected by COVID-19, including sole traders and the self-employed, may be eligible for a Wage Subsidy which should contribute to the cost of employees’ normal wages. For more information visit the Work and Income COVID-19 Wage Subsidy page.

There is the Leave Support Scheme for businesses to pay employees who can’t come into work because they are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 according to the Ministry of Health. For more information visit the Work and Income COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme page

Inland Revenue will provide low or zero interest loans for up to five years to small to medium business owners (including sole traders and the self-employed) impacted by COVID-19. More information is available on the IRD COVID-19 Small Business Cash Flow Loan page.

The Government has also worked with banks to launch a business finance guarantee scheme. Under this scheme, Government provides a partial guarantee of loans made by banks to small and medium businesses. Business owners can contact their bank to see if they may be eligible. For more information visit the Business.govt.nz >Business finance guarantee scheme page.

Key contacts

Phone numbers

All of Government contact line

If you’re not sure what assistance may be available, or don’t know who to contact for help, call the free Government helpline on 0800 779 997 (8am–10pm, 7 days a week).

Healthline

Only refer people to this for specific queries about their health.

0800 358 5453

Mental health - 'Need to talk?' call 1737. Talk with a qualified counsellor free, 24/7

Welfare

If you need welfare assistance with goods and services such as food, water, clothes and bedding, please contact 0800 725 678 between 9am-5pm, any day of the week. This number is for people who are unable to make arrangements through their own support networks.

Essential services

For advice and support for essential businesses please contact 0800 22 66 57 (8am-8pm, Monday to Friday and 8am-5pm, Saturday and Sunday) or email essential@mbie.govt.nz.

Queries about transport should be directed to the Ministry of Transport. Phone 04 439 9000 or email essentialtravel@transport.govt.nz.

Reporting breaches