Friday, 3rd December, 2021

Dear Member,


COVID-19 – Update 59 – Friday 3 December 2021


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

A reminder that we are now operating under the new COVID Protection Framework or “Traffic Light System”, with the whole of the South Island in Orange.

This will be reviewed again in two weeks time, and these settings will then remain in place until  Monday 17 January 2022. 

Implementation of new protocols can be extremely challenging and stressful - if you need support please reach out. If we as a community can show empathy and respect for the decisions that businesses decide they each need to make, it will help set us up for a smoother transition. 

Note: We will provide insight in the coming weeks on what to do to prepare and what steps to take if you have a confirmed or suspected case in your workplace.

GUIDELINES FOR BUSINESSES

Tourism Industry Aotearoa (TIA), in conjunction with other industry associations, has developed supporting guidance for the activity sector to operate under the Traffic Light System. Click here to view the tourism activity guidance.

NOTE: This guidance states: “Tourism activities have been mandated as part of the restrictions on entertainment, recreation, and exercise businesses and services. This means vaccination is required for all workers in these businesses. All employees must have had their first vaccination by 3 December 2021 and be fully vaccinated by 17 January 2022. These businesses can also only operate where customers can show they have a Vaccine Pass. Businesses can choose to ‘opt out’ of the My Vaccine Pass verification requirement under the mandate, however their operations will be restricted – refer section 4 in the guidance for more detail. Workers must be vaccinated regardless of whether the business chooses to use My Vaccine Pass or not.”

For other sectors, please visit the business.govt.nz website for the latest information.

Webinars: 

TIA held a Discussing Tourism webinar on the new Traffic Light System and Worker Vaccination on Wednesday. If you're keen to watch the recording click here.

MY VACCINE PASS & THE NZ PASS VERIFIER APP

Businesses that do require proof of vaccination status - My Vaccine Pass - should verify each customer over the age of 12 years 3 months My Vaccine Pass using NZ Pass Verifier App. 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.

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

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. 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.

What businesses aren’t allowed to check vax passes:

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

How to communicate the rules:

It is recommended that businesses communicate with clients at time of booking with information detailing the new participation requirements under the mandate. Participants who are unvaccinated may not be able to participate in your activity. Businesses must display posters or signage indicating to customers that entry is contingent on having a My Vaccine Pass.

If any of your guests are not respecting the restrictions, please do not try to intervene yourself. If there are any issues, please report the breach online or call 105 to report.

It may be useful to brief staff on what to do in situations where their safety is at risk from guests who do not wish to comply. These tips are designed to help workers feel a little more confident and able to maintain their own safety and sense of calm when dealing with strong emotions.

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

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 be able to open.
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.

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:

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 is 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 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.

RAPID ANTIGEN TESTING

From 1 December businesses that choose to use rapid antigen tests for surveillance testing will be able to directly source approved tests from the following authorised suppliers (all are nasal swabs):
  • Roche Diagnostics NZ Ltd             
  • Abbott Rapid Diagnostics             
  • Pantonic Health (Australia) or Arrotex Pharmaceuticals (NZ) Limited        
  • EBOS Group Ltd.
Businesses will need to pay for rapid antigen tests themselves. 
  
From 15 December, if you don’t wish to buy tests directly from these authorised suppliers you’ll be able to buy them from a local distributor. The Ministry of Health is currently working through the details of supply. The Ministry of Health recommends that businesses trial different tests before committing to buying one in bulk as there are differences in processes. 

SUPPORT PAYMENTS FOR BUSINESSES

Applications are currently open for the final round of the wage subsidy.

The first 3 Resurgence Support Payments affected revenue periods have now closed for application.  

The affected revenue periods for payments 4, 5 and 6 are:
4th RSP – 22 October 2021 to 1 December 2021.
5th RSP – 5 November 2021 to 1 December 2021 (payment at an increased rate).
6th RSP  - 19 November 2021 to 1 December 2021 (payment at the increased rate).

For each of the 4th, 5th, and 6th RSPs, the affected revenue period ended on the close of the day before any area of New Zealand moves to the COVID-19 Protection Framework.

Unlike what we reported last week, applications for the 4th, 5th and 6th payments will close at midnight on 13 January 2022. Click here to view. 

Following this, there will be a one-off transition payment for businesses as New Zealand moves to the Traffic Light System. This payment will be made available through the Resurgence Support Payment and eligibility criteria is the same. Applications will open on 10 December. The one-off transition payment is $4000 plus $400 per full-time employee (FTE), up to 50 FTE. The maximum payment is $24,000.