Omicron impact warning

Waipā council’s workplace has split into bubbles to manage the district’s business continuity risk during the Omicron wave.

But council managers still expect and have planned for a 50 per cent absentee rate, Genny Wilson, Business Resilience and Risk advisor told the council’s Audit and Risk committee this week.

Waipa District Council“For the majority of desk-based staff this means some will opt to be in a specific office or facilities Monday to Wednesday and others Thursday and Friday.”

Exceptions are in place for front counter staff, building inspectors and the museum due to the number of staff and requirements of the role.

Ten staff members had tested positive for Covid as of Monday’s meeting.

Garry Dyet

Chief executive Garry Dyet said if the Covid numbers got further out of control, some council facilities would have to close.

Go Waipā had reduced its service at the pools it operates on behalf of the council in Cambridge and Te Awamutu, he said.

“Critically, as much as protecting the health and wellbeing of our patrons is the need for us to maintain these services.

“The policies are important as they’ve ever been,” he said.

An emerging risk identified by the committee was if the current volumes and staff levels for resource consents continued, there would be an increased and continued reliance on external resourcing with potential for conflicts of interest not being identified and managed.

A total of 1094 building consents have been granted this year. Of those, 1083 were issued within the statutory timeframes and 343 resource consents were issued. Twenty went over statutory timeframes resulting in some refunds to applicants.

Roger Gordon

“This is a result of increased workload and reduced resourcing with a number of vacancies currently open,” said Wilson.

Technology issues and consent numbers continue to exceed projected levels.

Committee member Roger Gordon asked about the status of nine staff who refused to get vaccinated under the council’s Covid-19 Staff Vaccination Policy. Chair Bruce Robertson said he would prefer to address the issue under public excluded.

The Service Delivery committee also discussed Covid issues at its Tuesday meeting.

Water Services manager Martin Mould said delivery delays of specialist equipment from overseas due to Covid had already impacted the Cambridge wastewater upgrade and other water-related projects.

Liz Stolwyk

Liz Stolwyk

Deputy mayor Liz Stolwyk, who chaired the committee meeting in Grahame Webber’s absence, is recovering from Covid after she and family members contracted Omicron.

Councillor Marcus Gower was another to come down with Covid.

Stolwyk was still suffering from “brain fog” as she returned to work on Monday and was easing back into her duties gently.

“I thought that I’d probably breeze through Covid; the reality is that I haven’t,” she said.

Marcus Gower

Marcus Gower

Her top tips for Covid sufferers are to have a good support network, accept offers of help, have enough throat lozenges and Panadol on hand to cover the family, and to have ready-made meals in the freezer.

“If you live in town food deliveries could probably work for you but for rural folk that’s not an option at all,” she said.

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