Letter from Warren Weir, Chairman of the Covid 19 Emergency Committee - 28th March 2020
It is now day 3 of the lockdown. The Covid-19 Emergency Committee (CV-19 C) has been established for the sole purpose of supporting individual lodges with the District resources. Nothing done by the CV-19 committee is to surpass or replace the lodge structure. The Lodge and its Almoners are always to be your first port of call for assistance. The structure set in place is to ensure that if in the unfortunate situation a number of Lodge brethren became unwell, assistance could still reach brethren of that lodge. The pairing of neighbouring lodges through a regional welfare officer will allow one lodge to be aware of the welfare needs of a paired lodge and assist where practical. Because we cannot predict how the Covid-19 virus will affect regions and areas of NZ we need to have the most flexible response possible and be mindful of caring for our vulnerable brethren.
Actions taken by the committee so far:
Ellerslie Masonic Centre: The Centre’s facilities were offered to the NZ Blood Service to be used as an additional blood collection site as soon the crisis became apparent. The NZ Blood service has accepted this offer and their first emergency collection will be held on April 2nd under strict Covid-19 infection risk protocols. We would encourage any Masonic brethren in Auckland area able to give blood to contact the blood service by phone. The collection of blood is deemed an essential service.
The Charitable Trust has streamlined its process for dealing with welfare assistance in instances where all provisions available via the Government and Banks to assist New Zealand citizens in financial difficulty as a result of Covid19, have been explored, tested and declined.- More to come.
Efforts have been made try to obtain for all brethren a quantity of 24hr hand- sanitiser liquid. This forms a barrier to the hands for 24hrs and is not available through normal retail means at present. This is an additional protection to normal handwashing and sanitising. This does not replace advice given by the government for regular and thorough handwashing. The hand sanitiser company advised on Thursday 26th March that the 24hr sanitiser is in production for the District. It has not yet been received. Communication with the company is difficult at present but all efforts will continue to obtain this product.
Preparation has been made for the provision of meals to ill or elderly brethren in the Auckland area living without support.
Preparation has been made to link Masonic brethren with young families together so that the needs of these families can be assisted. We are unsure what exactly this group can do but it has become apparent even the sharing of activities available on-line is useful for young children.
The CV-19 committee are in the process of establishing a District wide communication system which will allow individual lodges to connect with brethren in some form of masonic gathering (this is a social connection not a Lodge meeting) This system will become valuable if the crisis continues for a longer time than anticipated.
The District website has been redesigned during this period to enable to maximum amount of information to reach brethren particularly in the event of lodge secretaries becoming unwell.
Finally Brethren remember the connection of your Lodge group is the most important part of this chain.Some Lodges are using the What’s App, others using telephone trees.Your regional welfare team leaders (as set out in the flow chart on the District website) will be talking to your Lodge Almoners to ensure maximum support is available to each member at this difficult time.Your first port of call for any welfare matter is your Lodge; with the CV-19 committee is there to support your Lodges needs.
The third degree Exhortation given after the Obligation has never been more real or will ever be uttered again by our generation of Masons without having a very different understanding or meaning after this crisis.
Take care and look after each other, stay safe.
Chairman of the Covid-19 Committee.