Things are slowly coming back to life across the country under Alert Level 2, and it’s really good to see our city reawakening day by day. People are out enjoying the lovely weather, and retail stores, cafes and restaurants are opening their doors again. Let’s get out and support them.
People seem to have a real spring in their step. I must say it felt pretty good, and a bit strange at the same time, going into the office on Monday for the first time in nearly two months and seeing people for real rather than over Zoom.
Bars will be also be reopening from tomorrow, which will provide another boost to our social lives and to our economy. Wellington is world famous for its bars and breweries and I know punters will be looking forward to re-visiting their local – as will the business owners.
We still need to be really careful, and maintain good hygiene and distancing, so to help that we’ll temporarily close Courtenay Place to traffic for safety reasons this Friday and Saturday night.
We are closing the road in both directions from Cambridge Terrace to Taranaki Street between 10pm and 4am to allow for physical distancing if needed. We’ll reassess the situation after the weekend.
You may have noticed businesses around the city are displaying QR codes to help with contact tracing, and people are being asked to scan the codes with their smart phone on entry.
As I’ve mentioned before, the Council has partnered with the Rippl app, which we are using at our sites and helping make available to Wellington businesses. The uptake has been huge, with more than 550 businesses registrations so far, and nearly 30,000 downloads.
It was interesting to hear Dr Ashley Bloomfield – who has also been using Rippl when he buys his morning coffee – speak about the official Government contact tracing app at his briefing today.
We welcome that app, which can be used across the whole country. It works similarly to Rippl in terms of putting privacy first – and the two apps will complement each other, as Dr Bloomfield pointed out.
In other news, we held the first two of five ward-based consultation webinars on Monday.
These have a particular focus on the Annual Plan and Parking Policy, but also include a great Q&A session with myself and local Councillors on questions raised by the audience. These are proving to be a great way to talk to people when Covid restrictions prevent holding public gatherings.
We’ve had lots of great feedback. Many people are loving getting information, and having a feeling of personal interaction without having to leave their homes. I’m certainly enjoying the opportunity, and am delighted so many people are joining us.
We had around 70 people attending the Southern Ward event on Monday night, with over 100 live questions for the panel.
Next up is Lambton Ward tomorrow evening, followed by Eastern on Friday morning, and Onslow-Western on Saturday morning. I encourage you to register on the Council website, where we’re also publishing videos of the webinars, and answers to the questions.
I want to finish by saying a huge well done to everyone on how well you all responded to all the Covid restrictions. Staying home, staying local, keeping separate, following the hygiene rules. All of this helped us get this far, and we kept each other safe.
We’re not done yet, but we are in a far better place than most countries – and all of us can feel proud of playing our part.
He waka eke noa – we are all in this together.
Thank you everyone. I’ll be back with another update soon.