Council is committed to helping Masterton recover from the effects of COVID-19 and emerging in the best possible shape. We’ve taken some immediate measures to ease some of the strain but this is just the start, in the background we are working on a larger list of longer-term efforts to support the community and businesses.
Some of the things we have done include:
- Removing rates penalties for the May and August rates instalments, and the 10% penalty on outstanding rates as at 30 June 2020
- Free parking in the Town Centre, with P120 restricted time limits, until the end of August
- Suspending library charges and removing fines
- Extending time to act on building consents
- Up to 100% rent relief on Council property for community groups, individuals and businesses that have experienced hardship for up to 12 months
- No rent increases on Council property
- 100% subsidy on consenting fees for woodburner replacements
We’re also focused on continuing key projects and bringing forward construction-related work so we can help keep people employed and create more jobs in our community.
On 3 February 2021, Medsafe formally gazetted its decision to grant provisional consent to use the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in New Zealand. Provisional consent means the pharmaceutical company must meet certain conditions, including supplying more data from its clinical trials around the world. This will happen at the same time as the vaccine is rolled out.
Following advice from Ministry of Health officials, the Government will make a decision about using the vaccine this week.
The Government has four Advance Purchase Agreements for COVID-19 vaccines. All agreements are subject to the vaccines successfully completing clinical trials and being approved by Medsafe.
Medsafe evaluates applications for all new medicines, including vaccines, which must comply with international standards and local requirements for quality, safety and efficacy before they can be approved and used in New Zealand.
Medsafe is streamlining its assessment processes and prioritising the evaluation of COVID-19 vaccines over other medicines so that we can get a vaccine more quickly. They’ll still have the same rigorous level of scrutiny that all medicines undergo.
Three of the vaccines are two-dose:
o Pfizer and BioNTech – 1.5 million doses of vaccine (enough for 750,000 people).
o Oxford and AstraZeneca – 7.6 million doses of vaccine (enough for 3.8 million people).
o Novavax – 10.72 million doses of vaccine (enough for 5.36 million people).
One vaccine is single dose:
o Janssen Pharmaceutica – up to 5 million COVID-19 vaccines.
Medsafe has given provisional consent to use the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and is currently reviewing one other vaccine.
The COVID-19 Immunisation Programme is continuing to work at pace to be ready to roll out the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it is approved by Medsafe and ready for use. The COVID-19 vaccine will be free of charge. The COVID-19 vaccine will not be mandatory for the New Zealand public.
COVID-19 vaccine rollout
The confirmed timing of the rollout will depend on Medsafe approval of the vaccine and when the suppliers can deliver it. A sequenced framework (the order of rollout) will be used to guide the rollout of the vaccines as they become available.
As things currently stand, border and MIQ workers, covered by the Required Testing Order (2020), will be the first group to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. This reflects the critical role they play, standing between the people of Aotearoa New Zealand and those who might unwittingly bring the virus into our communities, and the higher risk that represents.
The Ministry of Health has been working towards a second quarter rollout for this (potentially during March); however, if the vaccine becomes available earlier, we would look to move as soon as possible.
We expect to then make vaccines available for the general public in the second half of the year, subject to supply.
The Ministry of Health also plans to offer vaccination to those MIQ and border workers’ household contacts at the same time to ensure they receive the same level of protection. Although we know the vaccine will protect individuals from the effects of the virus, it is too early for researchers to confirm whether a vaccinated person could still be a carrier and transmit COVID-19 to someone else.
Given it is too early to confirm whether a vaccinated person could still transmit COVID-19, mandatory testing of our border and MIQ workforce will continue.
The Ministry of Health is preparing for a range of vaccine scenarios should the COVID-19 situation in New Zealand change.
Ensuring equity of outcomes is a key measure of success, including protection for Māori, Pacific peoples and our most vulnerable population groups, such as older people, disabled people, health workers, essential workers and border staff.
Workforce – vaccinators
The Ministry of Health is planning for an extra 2,000 to 3,000 full-time (or equivalent) vaccinators to be trained and available when needed throughout New Zealand. This number will continue to grow during 2021, in line with vaccine delivery schedules.
The Immunisation Advisory Centre will provide training on the COVID-19 vaccines. The training is expected to start in February 2021 and will be available online as well as face-to-face, across the country.
The Ministry of Health is currently seeking additional vaccinators to support the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
Retired health professionals or others not currently in the health workforce who may want to volunteer as a vaccinator, can register their interest via the COVID-19 Surge Workforce database, which can be found on the Ministry of Health COVID-19 Vaccine Planning webpage, or email [email protected]
Please note that this database is only for people not currently in the health workforce willing to be involved in the roll-out.
Impact of the vaccine on our borders
At this stage, we can’t advise how the availability of vaccines in New Zealand and internationally will influence any changes to our border controls. Although the data confirms the vaccines protect individuals from the effects of the virus, it is too early for researchers to confirm whether a vaccinated person could still be a carrier and transmit COVID-19 to someone else. Until that information is certain we need to maintain our current border settings.
Alert Level 1
Golden Rules for Alert Level 1
- If you’re sick, stay home. Don’t go to work or school. Don’t socialise.
- If you have cold or flu symptoms call your doctor or Healthline and make sure you get tested.
- Wash your hands. Wash your hands. Wash your hands.
- Sneeze and cough into your elbow, and regularly disinfect shared surfaces.
- If you are told by health authorities to self-isolate you must do so immediately.
- If you’re concerned about your wellbeing, or have underlying health conditions, work with your GP to understand how best to stay healthy.
- Keep track of where you’ve been and who you’ve seen to help contact tracing if needed. Use the NZ COVID Tracer app as a handy way of doing this.
- Businesses should help people keep track of their movements by displaying the Ministry of Health QR Code for contact tracing.
- Stay vigilant. There is still a global pandemic going on. People and businesses should be prepared to act fast to step up Alert Levels if we have to.
- People will have had different experiences over the last couple of months. Whatever you’re feeling — it’s okay. Be kind to others. Be kind to yourself.
Visit the Unite for the Recovery website to find out more about what Alert Level 1 means for New Zealand’s as well as well-being and job training support.
If you’re concerned about any aspect of your health, contact your GP. Minor health issues can become more serious if ignored and it is important that you have the treatments and medications you need. Your doctor would rather you call than silently worry at home. If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 through contact with someone who has it, it’s important to let your doctor know when you call.
If you are concerned about possible COVID-19 symptoms you are experiencing, call the dedicated COVID-19 Healthline number on 0800 358 5453. Symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to a range of other illnesses, such as influenza, which include:
- A cough
- A high temperature
- Shortness of breath
- A sore throat
- Sneezing and a runny nose
- Temporary loss of smell
If you develop flu-like symptoms, seek advice from your doctor about getting tested for COVID-19, or call Healthline on 0800 358 5453.
Useful health advice:
Help with Money
If you’ve lost your job or had your hours reduced you may be able to get a benefit or some other financial help from Work and Income.
Work and Income can help with urgent costs like:
- accommodation costs (rent, mortgage, board, emergency housing)
- repairs or replacing appliances
- emergency dental treatment
- emergency medical treatment
- water tank refill.
Work and Income call centres are experiencing very high demand at the moment, so we recommend you check the website first. If you don’t have access to the internet you can call Work and Income on 0800 559 009.
If you’re not sure what assistance may be available, or you don’t know who to contact for help, phone the Government Helpline on 0800 779 997 (8am to 10pm, 7 days a week).
Guidance for those under financial stress
If you are worried about your ability to finance existing loans as a result of COVID-19 you should contact your bank or finance company as soon as you can. Banks and other lenders will work with customers who are struggling financially. Borrowers have a legal right to ask for changes to their repayments. A range of options are available to help.
The government-funded services Sorted and MoneyTalks can help with budgeting or other financial guidance. Sorted can help with offers tips, guides and tools support online or you can email them at [email protected].
Protection for renters and tenants
If you don’t have somewhere safe to stay, or have been temporarily displaced from your home due to COVID-19, please call the Temporary Accommodation Service on 0508 754 163. This call centre is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
If you are renting and are struggling to pay your rent, you may be eligible for support to help you stay in your rental property. Help could include a 6-month freeze on residential rent increases and increased protection from having your tenancy ended.
It is important tenants do not face the prospect of homelessness during this challenging time. This will also enable families and individuals to self-isolate, to stay home and maintain physical distancing, and support everyone’s public health.
Mortgage repayment deferral scheme
New Zealand’s retail banks are offering to defer repayments for all residential mortgages for up to 6 months for customers financially affected by COVID-19.
If you get a mortgage repayment deferral from your bank you will not need to make principal and interest payments on your loan for up to 6 months. This package is in addition to what banks are already doing individually to help affected customers.
Key details of this scheme:
It is important to know that interest on these loans will still increase, and deferred interest will be added to the principal amount of the loan. Banks will assess the suitability for each customer who is asking for a deferral. Banks will have different approaches to how they manage the process for customers to opt into a mortgage deferral. Those details, including eligibility criteria, will be available on bank websites. Customers should contact their bank for further details or queries about the scheme.
It’s completely normal to be feeling anxious at the moment. This is a stressful time and taking care of our mental health and wellbeing is really important. Take some time to check in with yourself and check out these great free tools that are available to all New Zealanders. Reach out to your usual supports – family and whānau, friends and workmates. Share how you feel and offer support to others.
If you feel you’re not coping, it’s important to talk with a health professional. For support with grief, anxiety, distress or mental wellbeing, you can call or text 1737 – free, anytime, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – to talk with a trained counsellor.
The Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand has a page with top tips for getting through.
All Right? has lots of resources specifc to COVID-19.
Just a Thought has a free online course with practical strategies to cope with the stress and disruption of day-to-day life during COVID-19.
Created by Sir John Kirwan, Mentemia is an app that coaches mental wellbeing.
For Young People
For Rural People
The Rural Support Trust is available for free, confidential chats. Call them on 0800 787 254, follow them on Facebook or fill out a contact form. They have also created a great document called ‘Feeling Down on the Farm’ it has lots of stories from local farmers about how they’ve dealt with stress, anxiety and depression.
Farmstrong has tools to help you work on your mental and physical wellbeing.
Join the ‘Whatever with Wiggy’ Facebook group and have a digital catch up with other rural people around the country.
Sparklers has tools and activities to help you talk to kids about managing emotions.
For our Maori Community
Te Hauora Runanga O Wairarapa are an essential service and are still operating remotely, you can access counselling, addiction and crisis services over the phone on 0800 666 744.
For our Pasifika Community
Aunty Dee is a free online tool to help you work through problems.
Official Sources of Information
If you can’t get essentials like food or medicine and don’t have a family member or friend that can help, you can call the Wairarapa COVID-19 Helpline on 0800 239 247.
Latest updates: covid19.govt.nz/updates-and-resources/latest-updates/
Mental Wellbeing: covid19.govt.nz/wellbeing/mental-wellbeing/where-to-go-for-help/
Financial support: covid19.govt.nz/jobs-and-training/financial-support/
Ministry of Health: health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus
Ministry of Education: education.govt.nz/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-3/
Wellington Regional Emergency Management Office WREMO: wremo.nz
Wairarapa COVID-19 Updates page: facebook.com/COVID19Wairarapa