July 19, 2022

Northland local authorities restrict unvaccinated access to some facilities

Northern District Security Guard Durhy Turner scans Margaret Johnson in WDC’s Whangārei Central Library. Photo / Tania Whyte

Unvaccinated Whangārei taxpayers excluded from council facilities under New Zealand’s new Covid-19 traffic light protection framework should not expect their rates to be reduced accordingly.

This was the message from the Whangārei District Council (WDC) as the North entered its first day under the new regime. Northland’s two other district councils – Kaipara and Far North also restrict access to some facilities to those who are not doubly vaccinated.

Meanwhile, the Northland Regional Council is reviewing the immunization requirements for its staff who work with schools.

Taxpayers have made their own choices to get vaccinated and present vaccination passes, said WDC chief executive Rob Forlong.

“There is no reduction in tariffs for taxpayers who choose not to be vaccinated and therefore face restricted use of counseling amenities… every effort is made to ensure that those who do not have passes can still access the services they need in a compliant manner, ”he said.

“Taxpayers can choose to get vaccinated and present vaccination cards to access the Whangārei Central Library or Tarewa i-SITE Tourist Information Center, or they can choose not to. Anyway, these services in these places are still offered – subject to the pass.

“The central government has given all New Zealanders – councils, businesses, government departments, the community – guidelines to follow to achieve this,” Forlong said.

“Our goal is to keep our community – staff, contractors and customers safe – by following the rules necessary to reduce the spread of Covid-19.”

Unvaccinated people are excluded from some municipal taxpayer-funded and maintained facilities across the region, with My Vaccine Passes key to maintaining current access levels.

These include the headquarters of the WDC North Forum.

“Vaccine passes are required in Forum North event spaces and event planners must comply with government requirements. The area is cordoned off when not in use, ”Forlong said.

“We are following central government directives and mandates and that means we have had to change the way we deliver some of our services.”

Unvaccinated people have also been excluded from the Far North District Council (FNDC) Te Ahu center in Kaitāia since yesterday.

Kaipara District Council is investigating whether My Vaccine Pass will be required for camping at Kai Iwi Lakes this summer.
Kaipara District Council is investigating whether My Vaccine Pass will be required for camping at Kai Iwi Lakes this summer.

Access to the Kaipara District Council (KDC) Kai Iwi Lakes Taharoa Estate campsite – one of the largest in Northland and sold out at Christmas – is also in the spotlight.

Hannah Gillespie, general manager of human resources and capacity at KDC, said KDC does not currently require visitors to present their vaccination passports.

But that was being reviewed as part of a risk assessment for municipal campgrounds, which is currently underway.

“We do not currently require visitors to show My Vaccine Pass, although this is under review as we complete the risk assessment,” Gillespie said.

Aucklanders will soon be among those flocking to the iconic campsite which draws thousands of visitors.

“… we are currently completing an ongoing risk assessment. In the meantime, all of our campgrounds (boards) are operating under the red guidelines for accommodation as part of Covid-19 protection,” Gillespie said.

Kai Iwi’s Lake Waikere Education Center is also only accessible to people who have been doubly vaccinated and can present their vaccination passport.

People without a vaccination passport are also excluded from the Northern Wairoa Memorial Hall in Dargaville.

The four Northland councils were all grappling with the first day of the new system. Unvaccinated people have been barred from access to WDC’s Tarewa i-SITE Visitor Information Center for security reasons, said Lesley Ashcroft, WDC’s customer service manager.

“We welcome our visitors and want to ensure their safety and that of our own people. The vaccine pass is required because the building is multi-purpose. The cafe inside the i-SITE operates with a requirement of passes for the vaccines and there is no way to physically separate the access or airflow between the cafe and i-SITE, ”Ashcroft said.

“We are working on additional security to facilitate the transition to the new provisions. All Tarewa i-SITE members, including staff and clients, over the age of 12 will be required to present a vaccination card before being allowed entry. ” she said.

The WDC also officially approved a new policy whereby only people with Covid-19 vaccination certificates are allowed to attend council-hosted events at any venue owned and managed by the council.

Unvaccinated taxpayers and others will also be excluded from an FNDC service bundle from early January.

FNDC chief executive Shaun Clarke said vaccination passports would be required at municipal service centers, libraries and i-SITE visitor information centers from January 10.

People who will not be vaccinated twice soon will no longer be allowed at certain facilities in the Far North District Council, including the Te Ahu center in Kaitaia from Friday.
People who will not be vaccinated twice soon will no longer be allowed at certain facilities in the Far North District Council, including the Te Ahu center in Kaitaia from Friday.

These included service centers in Kaikohe, Kerikeri and Rāwene, as well as service centers and libraries in Te Hononga de Kawakawa and Kaeo; the Bay of Islands i-SITE tourist information centers in Paihia and Hokianga in Ōpononi; The Procter library in Kerikeri and the municipal libraries in Kaikohe and Paihia.

“The council is delaying the requirement for my vaccine passes … until January 10 to give clients time to organize passes or find other ways to access council services,” he said. Clarke said.

Unvaccinated people will also be banned from accessing public swimming pools in the Far North operated on behalf of the FNDC in Kaitāia, Kerikeri and Kawakawa, with vaccination passports required since yesterday.

Kaikohe’s public swimming pool had not opened for its seasonal summer use.

NRC chief executive Malcolm Nicolson said council staff working with schools were currently the only group where compulsory vaccination was being considered.

“The only people at NRC currently affected by the government health ordinance are those who work with schools. We have a number of employees across the organization who work with schools such as Enviroschools and biosecurity staff, ”Nicolson said.

Nicolson said he was in consultation with staff and elected members of teams such as the council’s environmental education and biosafety teams who worked with schools.

Northland Regional Council is examining the implications of vaccine mandates for some of its employees.
Northland Regional Council is examining the implications of vaccine mandates for some of its employees.

“I am still in consultation with my staff and elected members, so I have no comments at this time,” Nicolson said.

The KDC is currently examining roles that may require vaccination. Gillespie said KDC is consulting with staff on proposed mandated roles.

“The board is entering into consultation with all employees and there are no predetermined outcomes,” said Gillespie.

In terms of governance, no councilor or community board member had lost their job because they had not been vaccinated.

“No councilor or community board member has lost their job,” she said.

The FNDC did not respond when asked about mandatory vaccination of staff and whether there would be job losses for the unvaccinated in all roles where people in roles where needed. .

Meanwhile, WDC is implementing online click and collect for people without a vaccination card or those who do not wish to enter the Whangārei Central Library.

WDC offices are open and vaccination passports are not required, but all visitors must wear a mask and maintain a physical distance.

Forlong said the new protective framework is also having an impact on the practice of community sports in WDC parks.

“While gatherings of 25 people – vaccinated or unvaccinated – are permitted, sport codes should check with their regional bodies to see how this might impact their sport before making reservations at municipal athletic fields.” , Forlong said.

He said the WDC was also forced to cancel many of the district’s usual Christmas events because they could not run in accordance with the red and orange tier rules of the new framework.

Nicolson said his board has measures in place to ensure its services are not affected, regardless of employee vaccination status.

Vaccination passes were not required at NRC service centers, but the council had requirements for wearing masks, scanning and social distancing.