Mandatory Vaccination Certificates likely for select businesses

Law change to cover hospitality and close-contact companies

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Wellington, October 26, 2021

Takeaways for the Day

There are 79 new community cases; 75 in Auckland and four in Waikato. There is one new case at the border.

There are 37 people currently in hospitals with Covid-19. All are in the Auckland region. Four are in high dependency or intensive care units.

Government backs businesses to vaccinate workforces.

Mandatory vaccinations are required for health and disability, and prison sector workers.

Progress on vaccination rates across Auckland.

$4.4 million for WorkSafe to extend its current Covid-19 compliance work.

Government backs business to vaccinate workforces

A law change is being introduced to provide a clear, risk-based assessment process for businesses, as to whether they can require vaccinations of staff.

The risk assessment will look at various factors, including who staff interact within their work and proximity of contact with those people.

The assessment will build on guidance provided by WorkSafe, with input from public health officials, business representatives and unions.

A new government mandate will be required for workers in businesses where customers need to show Covid-19 Vaccination Certificates, such as hospitality and close-contact businesses.

If people choose not to be vaccinated and their work requires it, a new four-week paid notice period will apply if they are terminated.

These changes are intended to be in place by December.

Mandatory vaccinations for various sectors

Health and Disability Workers

The date by which health and disability sector workers need to have received their first vaccination dose has changed to November 15, 2021.

Second doses are required by 1 January 2022.

This change brings the requirements into line with workers in the education sector.

Prison workers

Prison facilities have been included in a new Public Health Order, mandating vaccinations for staff in specific sectors.

The order applies to prison staff, health care staff working in prisons, psychologists (working in prisons), and others contracted to provide services to this setting.

Staff working in prisons who are covered by the mandate will need to have their first dose by November 6, 2021 and their second dose by December 8, 2021.

Progress on vaccination rates to allow a transition to the new Covid-19 Protection Framework

Auckland needs 90% of eligible people in each of its three DHBs to be fully vaccinated to move to the new Covid-19 Protection Framework.

As of Monday, October 25, 2021: Waitemata DHB – 76% fully vaccinated; Auckland DHB – 81% fully vaccinated; Counties Manukau DHB – 73% fully vaccinated; 90% of the total eligible population in Auckland have received their first dose (all DHBs combined).

71% of eligible people in New Zealand are fully vaccinated.

Breakdown by DHB is available on the Ministry of Health website.

The Cabinet has agreed to provide $4.4 million for WorkSafe to extend its current Covid-19 compliance work. The funding will allow WorkSafe to undertake more proactive work, using a mix of education, engagement and enforcement interventions.

The new Covid-19 Protection Framework

High vaccination rates mean that New Zealand can take a new approach to manage Covid-19 with fewer restrictions and less reliance on lockdowns.

New Zealand will move to the new Covid-19 Protection Framework when 90% of the eligible population is fully vaccinated across each DHB. Auckland will be able to transition when 90% of eligible Aucklanders in each of the city’s three DHBs have been fully vaccinated.

The new framework has three levels: Green, Orange and Red:

Green is when there could be some Covid-19 in the community but at low levels. At Green, fully vaccinated people can enjoy all events, hospitality and gatherings by showing a vaccination certificate.

Orange is when there is increasing community transmission with increasing pressure on the health system. At Orange, everything remains open for people with vaccination certificates.

Red is when the virus is spreading in a way that means there’s a need to take action to protect vulnerable people in a community and prevent pressure on the health system. At Red, there will be additional restrictions, but these will be greater for people without a vaccination certificate.

Vaccination Certificates spell Freedom

Vaccination Certificates will provide greater freedoms at each level. There will be extra public health precautions built-in at higher levels to minimise the impact of Covid-19 and spread.

Businesses that provide services only to vaccinated people can operate at every level of the new framework and without any restrictions at Green and Orange.

Cabinet will review vaccination progress on November 29, 2021.

New funding to help businesses

Funding of up to $940 million per fortnight will be available as part of the government’s support package for businesses impacted by Covid-19.

Resurgence Support Payments (RSPs) will be doubled for businesses affected by higher alert levels, as the country transitions to the new Covid-19 Protection Framework.

Ministers have also agreed to a $60 million package for business advice and mental health support to help Auckland businesses through the transitional period.

As part of the package, $10 million will be available for mental health and wellbeing support through a programme to be designed with the EMA and Auckland Business Chamber of Commerce.

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