Mayor John Carter is urging everyone in the Far North to embrace government calls to isolate themselves and their families over the next four weeks to defeat the Covid-19 virus.

"We only need look to China, Italy, Spain, Iran and other countries to see that we need to act quickly," he said. "As Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern explained, taking this drastic step will save tens of thousands of lives. That includes our neighbours, our workmates, our whānau."

He also urged people to regularly phone their neighbours, especially those over 70, living alone or with health issues.

Meanwhile the council would continue to provide vital services such as water, wastewater, stormwater, drought management, animal management, housing for the elderly, cemeteries, public toilets, the Hokianga ferry and road maintenance (where it involved public safety). Other services would continue, but in a different form. Public amenities, such as libraries, public swimming pools, i-Site information centres and council service centres would remain closed for the foreseeable future.


"The next four weeks will be new territory for all of us. Council staff are working hard to adapt to the restrictions. We ask for your patience and understanding as we establish service continuity," Mr Carter said.

Chief executive Shaun Clarke said planning to close public facilities and reduce all non-essential public-facing services had been well under way before the Level 4 measures were announced. Building consents would be processed in urgent circumstances for essential construction work associated with the Covid-19 response, but the council had closed all public venues indefinitely.

Mr Clarke said the council had already planned to have 75 per cent of its staff working from home, and taking that to as close to 100 per cent as soon as possible was last week's priority.

"Some services that require us to physically attend, such as animal management or repairs to vital infrastructure, will continue. We are working on health and safety plans to ensure these are carried out with as little risk of infection as possible for residents and staff," he said.

He also asked that all non-essential requests from residents be deferred until the Covid-19 alert level was reduced by the government.

"Our contact centre will continue to operate, and we will redeploy staff from other areas to help field calls and online enquiries. I ask everyone to remember this is an unprecedented situation for New Zealand, and our staff are doing all they can to help us all get through. Please be patient and help us to help you," he said.

Information on how the Covid-19 crisis would affect council activities would be posted on