Auckland Mayor Phil Goff has announced the closure of key city facilities in response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
Auckland's libraries, pools and recreational centres, as well as the Maritime Museum and Art Gallery, will close for two weeks in line with the Government's advice to constrain the spread of COVID-19. MOTAT, which operates independently, will also be closed.
The facilities will be closed to the public from later on Friday.
During a press conference, Goff said the measure is made with regret - but highlighted it's importance at this time.
"Our main concern right now is to protect people's health and wellbeing and we are doing this by limiting large crowd interactions where the chance of virus spread is high," he said.
Auckland's 55 libraries receive over 250,000 visits a week, while Auckland Council's swimming pools and leisure centres have up to 200,000 visitors per week.
"We get far too many people through the door at these facilities to be able to run them safely in light of the current situation," Goff explained.
The closures may be extended depending on the evolving situation and the Government's advice.
The preventative measure follows the Government's recommendation to cancel indoor public gatherings of more than 100 people amid the outbreak.
"Maintaining social distancing in a library situation is difficult and I am conscious that many library users are older people [who are] more vulnerable to the impact of COVID-19," Goff said.
There will be no fines on overdue library items while the closures are implemented.
The Government's recommendation also applies to outdoor public events with more than 500 attendees.
Auckland's theatres, convention spaces also closed
Regional Facilities Auckland (RFA) theatres and convention spaces will also be closed amid the COVID-19 outbreak. These include:
- The Civic
- The Herald Theatre and the Kiri Te Kanawa Theatres in the Aotea Centre
- Auckland Town Hall
- The Bruce Mason Centre
- Shed 10 and The Cloud.
Auckland Zoo remains open as long as it meets the Ministry of Health's requirements. Auckland War Memorial Museum will remain open.
Auckland Museum, which is council-funded by runs independently, will also need to make changes to comply with the new requirements.
RFA's Mt Smart, Western Springs and North Harbour stadiums remain open for outdoor activities that comply with the ministry's advice.
The closures do not impact early childhood education centres and out-of-school care programmes.