Hamilton City Council community facilities will be closed effective Sunday 22 March as a precaution to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The Government has put limits on the number of people who can gather in a space and is urging the practice of ‘physical distancing’– maintaining a space of two metres between people.
Chief Executive Richard Briggs says the most effective way the Council can support these restrictions is to discourage people from gathering in numbers in our community.
“Our facilities are well used by the community. We can caution people to keep their distance from each other and put limits on customer numbers, but we cannot guarantee individuals will abide by the new rules of physical distancing.
“It’s important the Council does whatever we can to slow the spread of COVID-19, so we have to make tough calls like temporarily closing our much-loved facilities.”
From Sunday 22 March, all Hamilton City Libraries, Waterworld, the Gallagher Aquatic Centre, Hamilton Zoo, Waikato Museum, ArtsPost and the Hamilton i-SITE will be temporarily closed until further notice. The Auaha makerspace at the front of the Central Library and the Smart Space in Garden Place will also close.
Hamilton Gardens’ open spaces and privately-owned café will remain open, but the themed gardens and Information Centre will be closed to visitors.
There will be no services held at Hamilton Park Cemetery Chapel and Crematorium Chapel. However, graveside services will be allowed if physical distancing is maintained.
Staff will remain on site at all Council facilities to carry out maintenance and administrative tasks. No staff jobs will be adversely affected.
We will work closely with each facility’s stakeholders about what this means for them and how it will affect any memberships.
The Council will be reviewing the closure on a day-by-day basis.
Mr Briggs says many of the Council’s community facilities include communal spaces with people in close contact. The Council is not in a position to identify customers and help authorities track close contacts if someone who uses a facility is diagnosed with COVID-19.
The decision to close Hamilton Zoo will help protect the animals as well as the public and staff. The Zoo setting is intimate with public and animals able to get quite close.
“Our animals are vulnerable to viruses carried by humans and we cannot take the risk of exposing them when we have little information about the effect COVID-19 has on animals and the best treatment options,” Mr Briggs says.
Mayor Paula Southgate says the decision to close the city’s community facilities was difficult but essential.
“Our community and our country’s health must come first. Our facilities are a very important part of what makes Hamilton such a liveable city, but they also attract crowds. It’s time for the community and the country to band together to slow the spread of COVID-19.”
Mr Briggs says the situation is unprecedented and evolving and the Council will update the community as more information becomes available from the Government and Ministry of Health.