Wellington Scoop

Wellington libraries, museums and pools being closed

Wellington Mayor Andy Foster announced this afternoon that the Wellington City Council has decided to close most City Council facilities until further notice. These include swimming pools, libraries, recreation centres, community centres, the City Gallery and our museums and venues. The Zoo and Zealandia will remain open for the moment – but with reduced public programmes.

[Since this report was published, the Zoo and Zealandia have both closed.]

The Mayor referred to today’s statement from the Prime Minister underlining the gravity of the covic-19 situation which focused on the absolute need for people to limit their physical contact with each other – particularly those over the age of 70 and those with pre-existing medical conditions or low immunity. He said the decision to close most facilities was made because of the Prime Minister’s warnings and because several more cases of Covid-19 have been reported in the Wellington region today.

“We have been in touch with our counterparts at our neighbouring councils and they are also closing their facilities.

“I have daily meetings with Wellington City Council’s pandemic response team of senior managers representing our essential services including transport and infrastructure and community welfare. I am also in contact with the region’s other mayors and Greater Wellington Regional Council Chair Daran Ponter. The City Council’s pandemic response team is also working with the regional Emergency Coordination Centre (ECC). This has been activated. The City Council’s Emergency Welfare Team has activated and is working with the ECC, District Health Boards and community organisations to prepare for an escalation of the Covid-19 situation. This includes working with food-bank operators to ensure they can operate if the situation worsens.

“The Emergency Welfare Team is also putting in place arrangements to accommodate individuals and families who do not have their own accommodation for self-isolation.

“Our focus next week will be to develop response plans for other priority population groups such aged/elderly and disability – particularly in light of today’s advice from the Prime Minister.

“I want to remind Wellingtonians that you have an essential and crucial role in getting the city and region through the Covid-19 situation.

“First – look after yourselves and stay aware – follow the advice of the Ministry of Health, listen to the radio and keep watch on social media.

“Most importantly, keep checking the Government’s dedicated website – covid19@govt.nz or check the Wellington City Council website – wellington.govt.nz

“Second, look after your whanau, friends and neighbours – stay in touch with them and help them out – but follow advice on social distancing and, if you’re not feeling well, stay at home and stay isolated.

“I also fully endorse the #Love Local campaign launched by WellingtonNZ and The Dominion Post. It is essential that we keep supporting local businesses because they are already doing it tough.

“Keep buying from your local dairy, keep ordering from your favourite restaurant – and remember, supermarkets and other essential services will remain open so there’s absolutely no need to panic-buy.

“We can get through this together. We must remain calm – Wellington is a community with a strong heart – we’re a resilient city. We’ve overcome major issues in the past and we’ll overcome this.”

Several hours before the mayor’s announcement, the Wellington Museum, the Cable Car Museum and Space Place at the Carter Observatory announced that they were closing till Monday 23 March. They explained:

“We understand this may be disappointing but in the interest of minimising the spread of Covid-19 this is the best action to take. The situation is changing so we will continue to monitor advice from the Ministry of Health.”

Their decisions to close reversed yesterday’s announcement from the Mayor.

The council’s Nairn Street Cottage is also closed until further notice and will suspend tours, birthday parties and events until the 31st of May.

News from Wellington City Council – March 20
Wellington Mayor Andy Foster says swimming pools, libraries and other community facilities around the city will remain open for now but the Covid-19 situation is being closely monitored. The Zoo, Zealandia, City Gallery Wellington, Wellington Museum, Space Place at Carter Observatory and Cable Car Museum will also remain open, but may offer reduced programmes.

Mayor Foster says City Council staff have made the call that complying with maximum crowd size limits of 100 people in one enclosed space is realistic across the Council’s facilities and so they can remain open for now.

“Of course we are taking guidance from the Ministry of Health and the District Health Board and will close facilities if they direct us to do so. Until then the facilities will be open as long as the public demand is there – we understand how important our facilities are for people’s health and wellbeing.”

Chief Executives of the region’s councils are closely monitoring the situation and are working together to ensure a consistent approach to the possible closure of facilities.

“Notwithstanding that we’re noticing significant drops in the number of people coming through the doors, staff will keep a close eye on the numbers of people using our facilities at any one time with a view to keeping usage safe,” says Mayor Foster.

“If necessary, people will be asked to wait or come back at a quieter time if facilities are nearing the 100-person limit. We may also need to restrict the number of people in classes and programmes. Our staff will encourage physical distancing by facility users. Our facilities are also being more actively cleaned each day.

“We ask our customers to be patient in these unusual circumstances.”

Mayor Foster says it is possible some facilities may shorten opening hours if usage continues to decline as people stay at home – but that stage has not yet been reached.

Details of what’s open and what’s not.


  1. judy siers, 21. March 2020, 14:20

    I hope that consideration be given to keep the hydro – therapy pool at Kilbirnie open. A large number of residents rely on it as their only way to exercise – a significant health and well being facility. It has its own entrance so separate management from the other pools is possible. It is a physio centre operating in conjunction with Wellington’s DHB Newtown Hopsital and a decision about opening arrangements should be viewed from a medical perspective.

  2. Wellington City Libraries, 22. March 2020, 9:47

    Worried about your library items? We will automatically renew any items currently on loan and will waive any overdues related to the closures. Please keep items at home until our libraries reopen. [via twitter]

  3. Kara Lipski, 23. March 2020, 14:14

    As a result of the Prime Minister’s announcement today I expect WCC to close public access to both the Zoo and Zealandia. We are on level 3 and it will be level 4 on Wednesday afternoon. So get used to lock down folks.


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