Mauao's popular walking tracks have been closed to the public as the nationwide lockdown comes into effect.

Tauranga City Council (TCC) has made a u-turn on their decision last night to keep the tracks open and today announced they would close.

A spokeswoman said the closure was due to being unable to monitor and maintain social distancing on the tracks.

She said they were working with the Mauao trust to get some messaging out to the public and signs would be installed around the base of the mountain.

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Facebook was abuzz with debate last night about whether the track should remain open amidst the lockdown.

McLaren Falls Park will also be closed to the public.

The announcement came alongside a blanket statement from the council assuring residents that their calls will still be answered.

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website

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The council had been putting their pandemic response plan into place over the last few weeks.

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The executive, senior leaders and Covid-19 planning team had been reviewing what work could continue.

Tauranga City Council mayor Tenby Powell explained that during this time there would be some disruption to services with staff working remotely and focusing on delivering essential services.

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"The next four weeks, and potentially longer, will be trying times for everyone. I ask that we all support one another and look out for the more vulnerable in our communities. We will get through this together".

The city waters were flowing and toilets would still flush, waste collection would also continue.

The council's customer service centre was closed but the call centre was available 24/7.

Council will continue to deal with immediate safety issues like dangerous potholes and debris on the road. CCTV cameras will still be monitored, and streetlights will still function.

Civil Defence recovery and welfare functions have been activated. The council was supporting the Ministry of Health as the lead agency for the national pandemic response.

An emergency council decision-making committee had been formed and will have three members - the mayor, the deputy mayor and a third councillor. The identity of the third councillor will depend on the nature of the topic being considered.

Many park gates will be locked, but people could still go for walks in public with strict physical distancing, however, people were asked to avoid touching things, including playground equipment.