The Western Bay of Plenty District Council is currently assessing how it will respond to prevent the spread of coronavirus, particularly how it will manage public council meetings in which elected members are expected to attend.

The council has at least four councillors aged over 70 and a Policy Committee meeting scheduled for tomorrow.
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On Saturday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told New Zealand that anyone aged 70 or older should go into self-isolation.

Mayor Garry Webber said the council expects to have made some decisions regarding its response to coronavirus later today.

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For councillor Kevin Marsh, he is taking no risks.

"I'm already on leave," he told the Bay of Plenty Times.

"I'm not going back."

Western Bay of Plenty District Council Maketu-Te Puke ward member Kevin Marsh is taking no chances. Photo / File
Western Bay of Plenty District Council Maketu-Te Puke ward member Kevin Marsh is taking no chances. Photo / File

Marsh, who is over 70, said he was already susceptible to pneumonia

"I can't afford to get pneumonia, or anything like that, because I get it real bad. If I got this thing, I'll just [won't survive]. So I rang the mayor and said I wasn't coming back until it was all sorted out.

"It's just not worth it. Why would you go and spread it if we can do it from home?"

Marsh said he was happy to Skype in for meetings, if needed.

Fellow councillor Margaret Murray-Benge, who was also aged over 70, said she was staying at home for the most part.

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"We are supposed to have a meeting tomorrow and there are three of us that have a hearing. I suppose it's possible that hearing could go ahead if we space ourselves out accordingly."

Murray-Benge said she was waiting to see what instructions would come and ensuring she stayed home until she knew more.

Councillor Mark Dean, also aged over 70, said he had already applied for leave as he had planned to attend a cycling race with extended family in the South Island. The trip has now been cancelled.