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In these unprecedented times, we have had to make the hard decision to close the Hauraki Rail Trail. This will remain in place as long as the country remains in Level 4 Response to COVID-19. The safety of all our visitors, friends, family and trail network of business partners, cafes, accommodation and bike service companies are all affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. COVID-19 brings a sobering reality to our shores. Let's support each other and do our best to keep family and community safe. Your personal safety is of paramount importance.
The Hauraki Rail Trail is the first and currently only Great Ride to have made the decision to close the trail while COVID-19 Level 4 protocols are in place. The decision was made after consideration of several factors including:
- Level 4 protocols demand that the population stays at home as much as possible.
- Mitigating the considerable health and safety risk is paramount for all New Zealand businesses with the possibility of death sitting at the highest level.
- The major demographic for Hauraki Rail Trail users is our seniors 65 years plus. This is a high level risk group even amongst our local population.
- Avoiding Congregation - our users do congregate on the trail, it's natural, we are social animals. Congregation will occur particularly at rest areas and at the tunnel entrances. We cannot prevent users touching hard surfaces, seating, bridge railing or being in close proximity to each other.
- Exercise is recommended as a healthy outlet and many options exist for maintaining fitness outside the trail environment. The Prime Minister advised on 24 March 2020 that social distancing with walking/cycling must include a 2metre buffer which includes passing each other. The Hauraki Rail Trail width does not allow for this amount of buffer on 90% of the network.
- The virus can stay viable for up to 72 hours on hard surfaces, including toilet doors and outdoor seating.
- With maintenance teams now restricted to essential services only, management has been advised that toilets on the network would not be cleaned and no soap could be supplied.
- All cafes alongside the trail will be closed, along with any anxillary rest rooms that they supply.
- Support services are majorly restricted with shuttle operators no longer carrying passengers.
The only way we can assist in shortening this period of pain for New Zealand is to adhere to the recommendations made by central government.
The Hauraki Rail Trail Charitable Trust is looking forward to reopening the trail as soon as conditions allow, that support the health and wellbeing of our community. It was not an easy decision and believe we are taking a strong lead in this area to prevent the spread of Coronavirus in our immediate community.
We will endeavour to keep our community updated via the website and social media.
Many thanks for your understanding.
Diane Drummond - Chief Executive Officer - Hauraki Rail Trail
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