PSA: Grey Lynn Park rules & etiquette during lockdown

Dogs playing in Grey Lynn Park

Following Police visits to Grey Lynn Park yesterday, here’s a public service announcement regarding what you can and can’t do in the park during lockdown…

Unfortunately Police had to visit Grey Lynn Park yesterday to remind park users of the lockdown rules. The rules are not entirely obvious unless you go looking for them, so we’re hoping this public service announcement clears up any confusion.

Executive Summary

There are 3 key things to note…

  • Avoid all playground and exercise equipment in Grey Lynn Park.
  • Keep dogs on-lead at all times, even in the off-leash area.
  • Keep it solitary when visiting Grey Lynn Park, just by yourself or with the people you live with (Note: exercising with a group of people who do not live together, or congregating with a group of fellow dog owners, even if you are observing the 2-metre rule, is sadly not permitted).

COMMENT: I know the advice around dogs won’t sit well with many dog owners. As a dog owner myself, I get it.

The other side of the coin is that the elderly and the immunosuppressed are particularly vulnerable. And I get that too.

If my dog plays with your dog, and your dog has the virus on its fur after being patted by somebody, or rolling on the ground where somebody coughed or sneezed, that could literally be a death sentence for a member of my household who is badly immunocompromised.

So I hope you won’t be indignant about what we can and can’t do. Just think of others, and be kind.

Here’s why we must remain vigilant…

Some brief facts about Covid-19

The Covid-19 coronavirus is a sneaky critter. People can catch it and shed the virus, unknowingly spreading it to others, for several days before they feel any symptoms. Of course, they’ll continue shedding the virus while they are sick and for 1-3 days after they have apparently recovered.

Transmission happens in several ways…

  • Via respiratory droplets
  • Direct contact
  • Via objects and surfaces

The incubation period is 5-6 days on average but can be up to 14 days. That means someone may have caught the virus 1-2 weeks before they unknowingly pass it on to you.

People have tested positive 1-3 days before they develop any symptoms. During this time they are unknowingly shedding the virus and transmitting it to others.

And you can test ‘positive’ but never have any symptoms at all (asymptomatic carriers). In this case you will be shedding the virus for about a week without ever knowing.

Transmission also happens just by talking. Without wanting to sound alarmist, new evidence shows the virus can be transmitted by just talking to someone. It doesn’t have to be coughing and sneezing droplets, just talking to someone can be enough to transmit the virus.

Based upon this new evidence, the CDC now recommends the use of simple face masks to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.

When we both wear masks, my mask protects you and your mask protects me.

Government guidelines about leaving your house

Here’s what the Government says on its Covid-19 website…

Leaving your house

Please stay at home as much as you can. Any unnecessary travel could spread COVID-19. If you are over 70, or are immunosuppressed, you should not be leaving the house at all.

Some people will need to go outside occasionally. For example to take a short walk for exercise or mental wellbeing, or to visit local essential services like the doctor, pharmacy or supermarket.

If you do leave the house, here are some do’s and don’ts to remember:

  • Keep a 2 metre distance from other people at all times.
  • Stay local if you go out for exercise and stay close to home.
  • Keep it solitary when going out, just by yourself or with the people you live with.
  • If you’re exercising in your neighbourhood and it’s too busy, go home. Go out later.
  • Help our emergency services by only doing safe activities, such as going for a walk.
  • Don’t go swimming, surfing, hunting or tramping.
  • Don’t touch surfaces others may have touched and avoid park benches or playgrounds.
  • Don’t travel far from home, especially not to baches or second homes.
  • Only shop for essential supplies.
  • Wash your hands regularly.

Source: https://covid19.govt.nz/help-and-advice/for-everyone/leaving-your-house/

Playgrounds

The guidance around playground equipment in Grey Lynn Park is quite clear – it should not be used. Playground equipment may have been touched by other people (many people!) and should be avoided like the plague. Literally.

Dog owners

Guidance for dog owners in Grey Lynn Park is not so clear, so I tracked down Auckland Council’s official recommendations…

A simple guide for dog walkers during lockdown

Published: 31 March 2020

There are more than 100,000 registered dog owners in Auckland. That’s a lot of dogs that still need their daily walks to maintain their health and wellbeing. But what guidelines apply to dog walking during the lockdown period?

Remember dog access rules haven’t changed. However, we recommend you follow some basic guidelines as to how to observe the rules of the level 4 lockdown to reduce the chances of transmitting Covid-19 to keep you and your family safe.

So, here’s our recommendations on the do’s and don’ts of walking your dog during lockdown with Councillor Linda Cooper, Chair of Auckland Council’s Regulatory Committee.

If you usually drive to the beach to walk your dog, you should change your plans. You shouldn’t be driving unless you have a very good reason to do so.

“We want you to be able to exercise your dogs but the general rules regarding car travel still apply. That means only use your car for essential travel to get shopping or medical supplies or if you are an essential worker travelling to, from or as part of your essential work,” she says.

“If you ordinarily drive somewhere to walk your dog, you need to change your dog walking route. Stay local and do not drive to walk your dog,” says Cooper.

We recommend that owners have their dogs on a leash at all times to avoid coming into close contact with someone else when walking or retrieving their dog. This includes within off-leash exercise areas.

“We’ve got some fantastic parks in Auckland and areas that you can walk your dog, some of which are areas where ordinarily you can walk your dog off leash. However, now this just isn’t a good idea,” says Cooper.

“Importantly, the COVID-19 Alert Level 4 rules of keeping a 2m distance must be applied when exercising dogs. This is to avoid a person coming into close contact with someone else when walking or retrieving their dog.

“To make sure there’s no room for doubt here, owners should always have dogs on a leash,” she says.

As an extra precaution, we discourage people from patting dogs that are not within their own self-isolation ‘bubble’.

“Some pet experts are suggesting that people should be discouraged from patting dogs to avoid any possibility whatsoever of transmitting the virus via your pets’ hair,” says Cooper.

“For the avoidance of any doubt, we think this is a common-sense approach to take.”

Keep exercising your dogs and caring for your pets as usual, while following government guidance.

“We know you love your dog and want to take care of it responsibly”, she says.

“Now is the time for people to be more vigilant than ever about their dog exercising practices.

“In general, keep exercising your dogs and caring for your pets as usual, while following government guidance. Walk dogs on a leash and avoid any unnecessary pats or contact from people outside your self-isolation ‘bubble’.

Normal rules also still apply on where you can take dogs.

“Its also important to remember that rules around where you can and can’t take dogs still apply, so please don’t take your dogs to areas where you ordinarily wouldn’t. Locations such as sports fields, some beaches and parks are still off limits,” she says.

Source: https://ourauckland.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/articles/news/2020/03/a-simple-guide-for-dog-walkers-during-lockdown/

Comments

  1. Mingo Innes says

    Great info Brandon. We are concerningly relaxed about dogs. Also seems crazy that there hasn’t been a stronger focus on masks from Lockdown day 1. Great that the message from the young Euro woman about masks is getting around. Sounds like they’re only just deciding to insist on masks in the medical bases too! All the advisors were thinking about was the safety of those wearing the mask. Cheers.

    • Brandon Wilcox says

      Thanks Mingo, “concerningly relaxed about dogs” is spot on.
      Speaking purely from my own perspective here and not as a representative of GLRA, I suspect the lack of focus on masks has more to do with a lack of planning leading to a shortage of masks and then wanting to keep the few remaining supplies for those on the front line, hence advising people that masks are not necessary. The experience of countries that have successfully fought the disease says otherwise. Even the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reversed its long-standing position on face masks last week – telling Americans they should now wear one when they go outside. How long until NZ does?

  2. Brandon Wilcox says

    A couple of people have asked about the pump track. As it’s not a piece of equipment that is touched by hand in the same way a piece of playground equipment is (e.g. slide, jungle gym, etc), it is safe to use.

    The best analogy I can think of is the road. The pump track is essentially a mini road. If people are allowed to ride their bikes on the road, then they’re allowed to ride their bikes on the pump track. Unless, of course, the Council closes the pump track, but as far as I know they haven’t. That’s a good thing because it’s getting kids out into the fresh air and doing some exercise.

    The big question, though, is whether pump track users are observing the 2m social distancing rule. If they’re not, that’s a potential site of community transmission and some education is required.

  3. Ian Grant says

    Hi Brandon,
    As you know I don’t always agree with other people’s viewpoints, and in this case I disagree .
    You have interpreted this ruling your way and many other rules are being bent by others to suit them.
    The fact that you have questioned this shows some doubt.
    The adage that will keep this virus at bay is ” If in doubt, dont”
    Ian Grant

    • Brandon Wilcox says

      Hi Ian, yes I definitely question the 2m distancing aspect.
      I can see your point about the pump track. Others would say it’s quite clear (not that everyone agrees with it) that cycling is currently permitted by the Government during lockdown, as is use of parks, and cycling is permitted on paths in Grey Lynn Park.
      The pump track is nothing more than a cycle path, albeit a very undulating one. The Government’s Covid19 website says, “don’t touch surfaces others may have touched – avoid park benches or playgrounds”. The pump track clearly does not fit this definition.
      However, the Covid19 website also says, “if you’re exercising outside and it’s too busy to keep a 2-metre distance from others, go home – go out later”. This is what is perhaps not happening.
      So the problem is not the pump track. It’s the way people are using the pump track. It would be no different if the paths through the park were clogged with people not observing the 2m rule. Closing the paths is not the answer. Making sure people use it as per the guidelines is.
      I’m sure others will have differing viewpoints, but that’s the objective way I see it.

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