18 November 2021

Vaccination Certificate policing has potential to be ‘absolute disaster’

ILT Stadium Southland is bracing for a $2500 per week bill to police vaccination certificates, although its general manager is more concerned about the pressure that could be lumped on his staff.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern indicated the traffic light system would be in place in early December.

Under the traffic light system, many businesses will only be accessible for those with a Covid-19 vaccination certificate.

ILT Stadium Southland general manager Nigel Skelt said they would soon align with the traffic light system and become a venue where all staff, and anyone over 12 years old entering the building, would be required to be fully vaccinated.

Skelt plans to have a person, sometimes two during busy periods, on the front door at the stadium to check vaccination certificates during its opening hours of 6am to 9.30pm.

It’s expected to cost the stadium $2500 per week, at a time when the venue was already under financial pressure after losing 30-plus events in recent months.

Skelt’s main concern was the potential conflict that might arise from the new way of operating.

“My biggest concern is the mental health and well-being of my team, particularly the frontline team, and how they are going to deal with it on an hourly and daily basis, and how long will that be for?”

It was important that the Government had clear messaging to the public to ensure people knew what was required of them and in turn help ease possible conflict at venues, Skelt said.

“Unless the Government gets it right it has the potential to be an absolute disaster.”

As well as that potential conflict, Skelt said identifying kids who were 12 and over and were required to be vaccinated, from those under 12 would prove challenging.

“We are going to need some sort of identification.”

Southland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Sheree Carey said businesses were in limbo and there were concerns there would not be enough time to sort out staffing before the traffic light system was introduced.

Businesses needed to know now if more people needed to be employed to check vaccination status, and how many unvaccinated employees they would lose, she said.

“Ardern said [on Wednesday] that specific sector advice would be coming, and we’re two weeks out, we need that now,” Carey said.

“And once we’ve got that information we need the employment legislation to come out. They said on October 26 that would be two weeks, well we’re November 18, and we don’t have it … you can only go so far with consultation with your staff without being able to take that next step.

“My fear is it’s going to be two weeks of scrambling once this information comes out.”

Invercargill Licensing Trust chief executive Chris Ramsay said it was working through the process with staff around if its businesses would have a vaccine mandate in place.

Ramsay said the Government has made its preference clear on what they want to occur, given under an orange light, hospitality businesses that do not have a mandate in place would only effectively operate as a takeaway business.

“We understand the implications of what they have put in front of us. What we are waiting on is supporting legislation, so we can understand the finer detail and make sure we are making the right decision from a legal sense. At this stage, none of that has come through, yet we are being told we will be moving to the traffic light system very soon after [November] 29th.”

The ILT has canvassed its about 600 staff around their vaccination status to get a gauge as to the impact.

In broad terms, Ramsay said the numbers were similar to current national vaccination rates.

“We are dealing with people’s livelihoods, potentially … It’s not a particularly easy issue.”

Ramsay also had concerns about how the policing of vaccination certificates would work.

“It’s another example where Government has indicated they will be providing some sort of digital support for assessing vaccine certificates but haven’t offered enough to ease any concerns we might have around policing it.”

Published by Stuff.co.nz – 18 November 2021