COVID-19 Update #15 Transitioning to Level 2

The current safe systems of work instigated for Covid-19 response remains critical to the safety of firefighters as New Zealand moves down to Level 2.

Today the Government announced the Government would move to Level 2 over a 10 day stepped process from Thursday 14 May 2020.  Under Level 2 conditions the public will be able to travel outside of their “bubbles” and regions, able to shop, eat in restaurants and go to the parks and movies with but with hygiene and social distancing requirements remaining in place. Schools reopen fully next Monday and on Thursday 21 May 2020 bars will open.  Socialising and all activities will be restricted to limited to 10 people for tracing and containment purposes should a member of that group be suspected or confirmed as a Covid-19 case.  The freeing up of domestic travel and the ability to socialise will mean that the “bubble” system is largely redundant while keeping in place hygiene and public distancing protections.

Last week the National Committee agreed that Locals will be revising the current safe systems of work with management provided the changes meet the following principles:

  1. The enhanced hygiene and cleaning regimes in the workplace and on station remain and are not negotiable.  The hygiene protocols will be critical to protections and limiting ongoing exposure within the workplace. FENZ will be putting out amended Preventative Protective Protocols but the requirement to continue and maintain hygiene and cleaning regimes will not change.

  2. The enhanced medical response PPE requirements remain and are not negotiable.  With the community now able to travel and mingle it is just as important that the safe systems of work including PPE and questioning on arrival are diligently complied with.

  3. Ensure practices to minimise the circumstances and the number of firefighters having contact with one another are in place.  Crew and station bubbles can be lifted under Level 2 provided the principle of reducing the number of people each firefighter works with is part of that decision-making.   We still need to be able to quickly and accurately ascertain everyone who has come into contact of there is a suspected or a confirmed Covid-19 case in the crew.  It is preferable to only stand down a crew rather than close a station or stations if there is a suspected or confirmed Covid-19 case in the workplace.  Maintaining operational response capacity and capability remains a priority.

  4. Vigilance is key.   Anyone who has symptoms or feels unwell must notify their manager/workplace and self-isolate.   If you have recently been at work  or are at work when you start to feel unwell or exhibit symptoms then immediately notify your manager and self-isolate.  If you have someone at home that has symptoms or is unwell then also immediately contact your manager and do not come into work until it is agreed that it is safe to do so.  It is important that those you work with are also notified if you or your family member is unwell.

There will be a myriad of personal circumstances that will need to be dealt with on a case by case basis.   For those currently on special leave due to the Covid-19 restrictions, those classified as “vulnerable” in accordance with Government definitions and those working from home will need to discuss their circumstances with their Manager.   Please ensure you talk to your Local representative before approaching your manager, or if your manager contacts you. 

Your Local and national representatives have been meeting regularly by telephone conference to discuss the implications of the transition to Level 2.  Your Local representatives will be able to assist and your National representatives will be supporting your Locals.

In unity,
Wattie Watson
National Secretary

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