19 October 2021

Government considering different settings for unvaccinated in new framework

The New Zealand Government is looking at introducing different alert level settings for businesses that choose to allow in unvaccinated patrons under the new vaccine passport, or certificate, currently proposed to be rolled out in November.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on the Morning Report on Tuesday that a new Covid-19 response framework to be released on Friday, which would cover vaccine certificates, would reward those that have “gone out and done the right thing” whilst “keeping away people who are less safe”.

“It will become very clear to people that if you are not vaccinated there will be things that you miss out on, everyday things that you will miss out on,” she said.

Tourism, Small and Medium Business Minister Stuart Nash, in an online Questions and Answers session with New Zealand Chamber of Commerce chief executive officers last week, indicated businesses that chose to allow unvaccinated patrons in would have to operate under alert level 2 guidelines.

“What it may well mean, and again this isn’t policy, but it’s something we’re looking at at this point in time…. we may say to hospo businesses, we’re talking about bars and restaurants here, you don’t have to guarantee all your patrons and all your staff are vaccinated, but if you don’t do that then you may have follow alert level 2 guidelines,” he said.

“Whereas if you do have a policy where everyone that comes in is vaccinated and shows their vaccine passport then you can operate as per you would under alert level 1.”

The government was leveraging off what other international countries were doing in the design and implementation of the passport, he said.

“We want to make sure we don’t develop something that is absolutely unique and is unable to be used in other countries,” he said.

“The vaccine passport, I think, will become the passport for Kiwi’s to have a great summer.”

Southland Chamber of Commerce chief executive officer Sheree Carey said until the vaccine passport and restrictions around it were officially announced it was difficult for businesses to plan what decision they would make.

“A lot of businesses aren’t making money under level 2, so they won’t have a choice, they’ll have to go vaccination only to be able to make money,” she said.

“There’s some big decisions to come, it’s just that we’re kind of sitting in limbo at the moment waiting for them to decide to start the work.”

Invercargill Licensing Trust chief executive Chris Ramsay said the trust would not be “trailblazers” in deciding whether to allow unvaccinated patrons in their venues under the vaccine passport, and would be led by the standards set by the industry.

A lack of clarity on what the passport would mean for businesses had not made planning easy, he said.

Ministry of Health group manager of national digital services Michael Dreyer said in a statement last week that from late November vaccination certificates would be available for use within New Zealand and abroad.

“The exact timing for when and where vaccination proof will be required are still being finalised. The Government is also consulting with the business, hospitality and events sectors on the finer details of how it will work,” he said.

Published by Southland Times – 19 October 2021