Letter  from Warren Weir, Chairman of the Covid 19 Emergency Committee - 24th March 2020

Dear Brethren,

 

On the 23rd of March an emergency meeting of the Board of General Purposes and Chapter Committee was called to deal with the effects of the Covid-19 and the NZ level 4 alert on our brethren and the District..  By a majority vote the Emergency COVID-19 Committee (CV-19C) was formed. The purpose of this committee was to put in place a management structure which would ensure the maximum resources of both the District and the Trust to activate rapid assistance for Lodges and our brethren.  

 

  • Full details of the two resolutions voted on by the Board of General Purposes and the background to those resolutions are attached - see Appendix 1

  • Our normal Masonic structure never contemplated the possibility of large numbers of brethren, including Lodge Almoners and senior lodge leadership being incapacitated.   It was planned that the emergency CV-19C structure must deal with both the possible loss of leadership and rapidly deploy all resources required.   The Emergency CV-19C structure has two arms:  Welfare and Operational with a management team’s oversight.    The full management structure is attached as Appendix 2 a, b, c

  • The CV-19C is established for a very specific purpose, and for a very limited time only.  The committee has full financial oversight via the Board of General Purposes Financial Committee and all decisions and actions will be fully transparent.

  • District planning to deal with the crisis began 10 days ago. The CV-19C will function under the simple principle of “Masons helping Masons” in every possible and practical way. This is the time that our Masonic principals and ideals live.

  • Regular updates to all brethren of the CV-19C actions will be both on the District web site and sent to all Lodge Secretaries and Masters for full circulation.  A daily Log of the Committee’s activities will be kept.

  • The most important message to all brethren is for Lodges and families to form communication chains. The WhatsApp is strongly recommended as a method quick communication between brethren.  Look at the Ministry of Health websites for current advice. The District web site will also be updated frequently with details of the activities of the CV-19C. . The District will be also linking lodges together via regional welfare team leaders. One lodge may well become the Almoner to other Lodges brethren.

 

A more detailed email will be sent out tomorrow detailing actions and plans from the CV-19C.   Take care and look after each other.  Please check frequently on your vulnerable brethren and those living alone. 

 

 

 

Kind regard

 

 

Warren Weir

Chairman of the Covid-19 Committee (CV-19C)

 

APPENDIX 1

 

FORMATION OF A SPECIAL COMMITTEE REPORTING TO THE BOARD OF GENERAL PURPOSES, TO ADMINISTER THE MEASURES TAKEN BY THE DISTRICT GRAND LODGE IN THE EXTRAORDINARY CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE OUTBREAK OF THE CORONA VIRUS COVID-19 IN NEW ZEALAND.

 

INTRODUCTION

 

1. In December 2019 the Corona virus COVID-19 established in the city of Wuhan in China and quickly spread to other parts of the world notably to Iran, Italy and Spain but elsewhere in what was categorised by the World Health Organisation as a pandemic.

 

2. New Zealand while unaffected by the virus until March 2020, rapidly introduced measures designed to contain the virus. By 21 March 2020 there were fifty-three people infected with the virus and although until that time it had been associated with arriving/returning overseas travellers, two cases were not able to be categorised in that way leading to the conclusion that community infection may have occurred. On 15 March 2020 the New Zealand Government introduced measures which included 14 days self-isolation by overseas travellers from other than the Pacific Islands, but by 21 March 2020 that applied to all those entering New Zealand.

 

3. The Government established four levels of response to the Pandemic and on 21 March 2020 implemented Level 2 – Reduce. A copy of the response levels is appended to this note. Among a long list of advisories was the recommendation that those over 70 years of age remain at home. This together with a range of other factors prompted the District Grand Lodge to consider what action it might take to ensure the safety and welfare of brethren and their families.

 

4. On 17 March 2020 the MW The Grand Master closed lodges in England and Wales for four months, and action taken also by a number of other orders including those in New Zealand. The District Grand Master (DGM) closed Lodge and Chapter Meetings until 31 May 2020.

 

INITIAL REACTION

 

5. The District Grand Master Designate (DGMD) initiated some preliminary action during the week commencing 15 May 2020, at which time the President of the Board and the District Grand Secretary were absent in Vanuatu. However, a number of measures were able to be put in place and regularly updated information was posted on the DGL website. The period 15 – 20 March 2020 was NZG Response Level 1.

 

UPGRADING THE RESPONSE LEVEL

 

6. When the Government raised the response level to Level 1 on 21 March 2020, it drew attention to the DGL demographic that indicated a significant number of brethren might become isolated by the recommendation to remain at home, but the concern was for the wider community of the DGL and included the following:

 

  1. The wellness of brethren, particularly those in the older age group and those with illnesses or conditions which affected respiratory function as the virus ultimately caused pneumonia which in many cased resulted in death.

 

  1. The ability of brethren to obtain the necessities of life including food, medicines and other items normally secured by retail purchase.

 

  1. The alert level is now level 3 and by midnight, 25th March, will be at Level 4. This is the highest alert level and its consequences, including a full lock down of New Zealand society, are unprecedented in New Zealand history.

 

 

A DISTRICT TASK FORCE

 

 

7. In the widest context of Masonic principals, it was recognised that the District Grand Lodge had a role to play in organising a response by lodges to the circumstances of their members.

 

8. It is proposed that an Emergency Committee be established under the provision of By-Law 27 of DGL, which allows the Board of General Purposes to establish a committee for a special purpose. In this case it is proposed that an Emergency Committee of five brethren be formed under the chairmanship of the DGMD. The members of the committee are to be determined by the DGMD. The terms of reference of the committee are to be limited to matters concerning the welfare of the District, its members, their families and any action that can assist the NZ Government or NZ society in this time the COVID-19 Pandemic.

 

  1. A financial allocation is limited to the total amount of $30,000.  This amount may be spent by the committee but the maximum amount which may be spent on any one item or service is limited to $10,000.

  2. The approval of two nominated members of the District Finance Committee is required before any expenditure.

  3. The Committee is required to return to both the Board of General Purposes and the Chapter committee for approval before further spending.

  4. This delegation of authority does not extend to the granting of cash advances or loans to any individual where the circumstances might properly be considered by the North Island English Masonic District Charitable Trust. Payments under this delegation will continue to be made by the District Financial committee and will require two of its members to authorise any expenditure. The committee does not intend to establish a separate bank account.

  5. This Committee to cease when the NZ Government declared the COVID-19 pandemic over.

 

  

RESOLUTIONS:

 

 

A - The normal District Grand Lodge By-Law Number 23 requiring 7 days’ notice of each meeting be suspended for the purpose of this emergency Board meeting due to the COVID-19 crisis

 

B – An emergency District COVID-19 committee be established immediately   under the provision of By-Law 27 of District Grand Lodge.

 

  1. The committee to compose of five brethren under the chairmanship of the DGMD.

  2. Members of the committee are to be determined by the DGMD.

  3. The committee to have the ability to call on all brethren to assist them.

  4. The committee to be limited to matters concerning the welfare of the District, its members, their families and any action that can assist the NZ Government or NZ society in this time the COVID-19 Pandemic.

  5. The committee to have a financial allocation of $30,000.  The maximum amount which may be spent on any one item or service be limited to $10,000.

  6. The approval of two nominated members of the District Finance Committee be required before any such expenditure.

  7. The Committee must seek the approval of both the board of General Purposes and the Chapter committee before further spending.

  8. The Committees  delegation of authority  not extend to the granting of cash advances or loans to any individual where the circumstances might properly be considered by the North Island English Masonic District Charitable Trust.

  9. The committee not to establish a separate bank account.

  10. The Committee to cease when the NZ Government declared the COVID-19 pandemic over.

 

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