Wednesday, 24th November, 2021

Dear Member,


COVID-19 – Update 57 – Wednesday 24 November 2021


Here’s the latest update from the Southern Lakes Business Response & Recovery team.

The COVID Protection Framework or “Traffic Light System” comes into effect at 11:59pm on 2 December. Auckland will move to Red. The settings for the rest of New Zealand are yet to be decided but it is anticipated that the Queenstown Lakes region will move to Orange.

Aucklanders will be able to begin travelling out of the city on 15 December, provided they are either fully vaccinated or have had a negative COVID test 72 hours before leaving the city. This will be in place until 17 January. All workers covered by the My Vaccine Pass mandate need to have received their first vaccine dose by 11:59 on Thursday 2nd December 2021 and fully vaccinated by 17 January 2022 to continue to work.

Outlined below are the details that we are aware of to date which are relevant to businesses. Detailed individual sector guidance for the Traffic Light System is yet to be released but we will provide insight as soon as we can.

THE TRAFFIC LIGHT SYSTEM

Across the three colour levels, there are considerable differences for businesses and events depending on whether a vaccination certificate and the NZ Verifier App is used or not.

What will be considered for a change in colour levels:

Vaccination coverage; capacity of the health and disability system; testing, contact tracing and case management capacity; and the transmission of COVID-19 within the community, including its impact on key populations.

MY VACCINE PASSES AND NZ PASS VERIFIER APP

How to get the NZ Pass Verifier App to check vax certificates:

The NZ Pass Verifier App can be downloaded from the Apple and Google Play app stores.

Hospitality venues, close-contact businesses, large gatherings, events, air transport and gyms are some of the businesses that will need to verify customer’s vaccination status to operate in higher risk levels under the COVID-19 Protection Framework.

For customers entering a business which requires proof of vaccination status, their My Vaccine Pass will be scanned by the verifier app. The verifier will show a green tick recognising the official QR code embedded into the customer’s pass. It will show that the person is fully vaccinated or has the appropriate exemption and can enter their premises. The verifier app does not store a person’s data or see any information other than a person’s name and date of birth.

Scanning the NZ Vaccine Pass QR code with a verifier app is the only way to confirm the authenticity of a My Vaccine Pass. Verifiers should also undertake additional checks to ensure they are confident the person presenting the pass is the person named on the pass.

If you want to integrate the QR code scanner into your existing smartphone apps or ticketing operations, or are interested in how to offer this service, information on the specifications and other documentation is available on the Ministry of Health’s Github repository. If you would like to talk to the team please email integration@health.govt.nz 

What to do if you are a business who has to check vax certificates:

Businesses that do require proof of vaccination status - My Vaccine Pass - should verify each customer’s My Vaccine Pass using NZ Pass Verifier App. This includes businesses who choose to operate under My Vaccine Pass rules in order to be open (such as hospitality).

Businesses cannot accept a purple vaccination card or vaccination confirmation letter as proof of vaccination status.

What businesses aren’t allowed to check vax certificates:

Some businesses are prohibited from asking for or scanning passes, such as supermarkets, pharmacies, all health and disability services, food banks and petrol stations.

What to do if your business isn’t required to check vax certificates:

Businesses, events, organisations, community, and a range of sectors may legally choose to implement a vaccination entry requirement for customers (for example after having completed a health and safety risk assessment).
  • If you opt in: You should scan each customer’s My Vaccine Pass with NZ Pass Verifier App.
  • If you opt out: You will have to operate with strict limits on capacity and space requirements. You may need to close in Orange and/or Red. Some businesses who aren’t requiring staff to be vaccinated may choose not to require My Vaccine Pass for entry. For example, some retail businesses may not.
How you use the NZ Pass Verifier App will depend on your sector or the choices you have made about how you will operate under the new framework.

How to enforce the vax certificate process:

Official guidance on this is yet to be released but business.govt.nz has advised that customers who want to enter a business which requires the My Vaccine Pass are obligated to provide their My Vaccine Pass to be scanned, when asked. Businesses cannot accept a purple vaccination card or vaccination confirmation letter as proof of vaccination status.

How to check international vax certificates:

Official guidance on this is yet to be released but the Government has advised international passes cannot be scanned on the My Pass Verifier App.

If you have received your COVID vaccinations overseas, please contact the Ministry of Health to have your vaccination record from overseas added to New Zealand’s COVID Immunisation Register (CIR). You need to do this before you can get My Vaccine Pass. Your vaccination record and evidence above must be in English or translated into English prior to applying.  More on the Ministry of Health website here.

MBIE and MOH Vaccine Webinar: This was held for businesses last Friday on the vaccine passport and implications for business. You can watch the replay here 
WORKPLACE VACCINES

Businesses with vaccination requirements:

The requirement to be vaccinated applies to hospitality, events, gatherings, close contact businesses and gyms. To continue doing work in these areas, workers will need to have their first vaccination by the day that the COVID-19 Protection Framework comes into effect, which will be Friday December 3. These workers will need to be fully vaccinated by 17 January 2022 to continue doing that work.

Workers with international vaccination records:

As mentioned above, if COVID vaccinations have taken place overseas, please contact the Ministry of Health to have the vaccination record from overseas added to New Zealand’s COVID Immunisation Register (CIR). This needs to be done before getting access to My Vaccine Pass. Vaccination records and evidence above must be in English or translated into English prior to applying.  More on the Ministry of Health website here.

Workers requiring AstraZeneca vaccine:

From 26 November, the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine will be available for people aged 18 and older who cannot receive the Pfizer vaccine, and for people who wish to have a different COVID-19 vaccine. Bookings will be able to be made for selected vaccination sites at bookmyvaccine.covid19.health.nz or by calling the COVID Vaccination Healthline 0800 28 29 26.

Vaccine Assessment Tool:

A new Vaccine Assessment Tool to help businesses assess whether they should be requiring workers to be vaccinated will be available from mid-December. It builds on guidance and advice from workSafe, public health agencies, Business New Zealand and the Council of Trade Unions.

It has four criteria, at least three of which must be met before a business can require vaccination:
  • Workers are in an area with less than 100m2 indoor space
  • Workers work less than 1m apart from other people
  • Workers are routinely near others for more than 15 minutes
  • That the workers provide services to people vulnerable to COVID-19
The tool won’t override risk assessments that businesses have already done under the existing health and safety guidelines. Businesses can choose which one they use, and any assessments done to date remain valid.

Employment Legislation to be passed urgently this week:

Legislation allowing the Vaccine Assessment Tool to be created, as well as introducing four weeks’ paid notice of termination and paid time off to get vaccinated, will be passed under urgency this week. This legislation will come into effect the day after it is passed. 

The Tool will then be available for businesses to use once regulations are made in mid-December under the amended law.

THE NEXT STEPS FOR RECONNECTING NEW ZEALAND

At this afternoon’s 1:00pm press conference, Minister Hipkins advised the next steps for MIQ and international borders:
  • Fully vaccinated Kiwis and other eligible travellers can travel to NZ from Australia without staying in MIQ from 11.59pm Sunday, 16 January 2022
  • Fully vaccinated Kiwis and other eligible travellers can travel to NZ from all other countries from 11.59pm Sunday, 13 February 2022
  • All fully vaccinated individuals will be able to travel to NZ from 30 April 2022 onwards, with the re-opening staged over time 
  • The Very High-Risk classification for Indonesia, Fiji, India, Pakistan and Brazil will be removed early next month