The country is now in coronavirus alert level 4.

Waihi, along with the rest of New Zealand, is reeling from the news of lockdown to contain the virus.

Hauraki District Council Mayor Toby Adams says essential services such as water, wastewater, rubbish collection and roading will continue. Council staff will work from home where they can. This includes maintaining call centres, online services, and library e-books. A list of online services is available on council's website.

Toby says the council's focus remains on meeting the needs of its communities.

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"We'll be scaling up our welfare efforts over the coming days and weeks to make sure we're doing all we can do to keep our communities safe," he said.

"We all need to continue to support each other and especially our elderly and vulnerable people. Keep yourselves safe, look after each other and keep an eye on your neighbours."
Schools are now closed.

Waihi College principal Alistair Cochrane urges students to look after themselves and family.

'Our thoughts are with you during these difficult time.''

School holidays are being brought forward so they can be completed within the four week period of closure. Holidays are now March 30 to April 14.

Go Waihi
Large and small events are banned.

The much-anticipated Beach Hop and Waihi's Warm Up Party has been postponed until November.

Go Waihi chairperson Kerry Single says their preference was to postpone.

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"The decision was taken out of our hands. When you have 12,000-15,000 people coming to a town and if there is someone with a virus ... we are a older generation in Waihi and really, the safety of our population is the most important."

Other big events were cancelled or postponed include the Echo Walking Festival and The Nugget multisport event. Meetings of clubs, sports teams, trips, organisations and businesses are cancelled.

Kerry says Waihi is a small community and now is the time to unite together.

''Talk to your neighbour, even if it's over the back fence. Neighbours need to look out for each other and where possible help each other by making a trip to the shops to pick up for a number of your neighbours at the same time.

"If you can help by picking up or dropping off shopping, running errands, or just make a friendly phone call, email Go Waihi at info@waihi.co.nz with your details. We will develop a call tree to ensure essential services are still accessible to the community. Our focus is to prove we are a community that cares.''

New World Waihi
Supermarkets are an essential service which will remain open during the lockdown.

But people are panic buying at New World Waihi and it's not helping, says store manager Amandeep Chahah.

Restocking shelves is continuous but they are at the mercy of suppliers.

''We try to shop the way a customer would shop, and get in everything they need.

''We are making sure we are ordering enough, but once we order, then it's out of our hands.

''When you get something like Christmas, you know it's all been organised six months prior and they are prepared but this has happened all of a sudden — so suppliers are a bit lagging to get trucks on the road etc.''

Amandeep was hoping things would calm down this week, but this hasn't been the case.

''It might not look like it but we are organising stock and we are catching up.''

The supermarket has hired new workers to stock shelves but the problem is stock coming in. Some things are limited to order. He says most customers are understanding but some are irritated.

''We are taking it hour by hour, we are trying to meet needs and do what we can.''


Waihi Family Doctors
The local doctors have been inundated with phone calls.

They are triaging all patients who want to come in and the burden of this work falls on the nurses. They've bought in extra nursing staff to cope with inquiries.

Unfortunately, manager Rae Norman says a few people have come into the clinic with cold symptoms having misled the staff during the triage process, which puts staff at risk.

''On a local level I am worried about our staff becoming infected. We are all healthy people and I would not expect very serious illness. If we did become infected, we would not be able to come to work.

"It is a very stressful time for staff, our processes and the information we provide to patients is changing every day, I am mindful that staff could become exhausted by this, particularly as staff may be asked to work extra days and undertake extra tasks.''

Flu vaccinations are available earlier than planned.

Rae says it is not flu season yet ''so there is no need to be vaccinated immediately but it gives us the space to get people vaccinated in good time before flu season starts'.'

''It does not vaccinate against coronavirus but it would save people from having the flu and coronavirus at the same time, which could be nasty.''


Property
LJ Hooker Waihi and Waihi Beach owner Gary Alway says they hadn't initially noticed a downturn during the pandemic but things are changing fast.

''Open homes had been showing good attendance. This will no doubt change in this fast moving environment.

''LJ Hooker has cancelled all open homes for the next four weeks. We will then review after the situation has improved and only then after serious consideration has been given to the current environment. Our priority is with our community and my team.''