DCC options for unvaxxed

A sweeping vaccine mandate at the Dunedin City Council may put several people out of work, but more are expected to turn up to the office under the Orange setting of the Government’s Covid-19 traffic light system.

Fewer staff would be working from home, as the physical distancing requirements of Alert Level 2 no longer applied, council chief executive Sandy Graham said.

‘‘We will continue to support flexible working arrangements for our staff, but expect the overall number working from home to decrease.’’

The council has not specified how many staff might be excluded from council buildings because of the requirement for vaccine passes for people entering facilities considered to be ‘‘public-facing’’.

Some may need to be redeployed, take unpaid leave, work from home or cease employment.

‘‘We have a very small number of unvaccinated staff and we are having individual conversations with them, in good faith, as required,’’ Ms Graham said.

Vaccine passes would be required at a series of facilities from today, such as the Civic Centre, public libraries, i-Site visitor information centre, Olveston Historic Home and Lan Yuan, Dunedin Chinese Garden.

Others, such as Moana Pool, St Clair Hot Salt Water Pool, Toitu Otago Settlers Museum and the Dunedin Public Art Gallery, adopted the system last Friday.

Cr Lee Vandervis, set to be excluded from council buildings because he was not vaccinated, was damning of the council’s vaccination policy and its effect on council staff.

He had counselled several employees — ‘‘people with families and mortgages who are faced with forced vaccination if they want to be able to continue supporting their families and continue their careers’’, he said in a blog last week.

Council bureaucrats had decided to ‘‘wreck the unvaccinated lives of people who have good reason to believe that the new vaccine is not safe or effective in preventing disease transmission.’’

The Ministry of Health says the Pfizer vaccine is highly effective for people who have had both doses and all vaccines approved for use in New Zealand had a good safety record.

Covid-19 vaccination significantly reduced the risk of developing severe infection and, though vaccinated patients were less likely to transmit the virus, transmission from them was possible.

The ministry told clinicians screening out unvaccinated patients, or requiring them to have a negative Covid-19 test before a non-urgent consultation, was not warranted.

Ms Graham said councils had to take appropriate steps if workers and other people were exposed to risk from Covid-19. Most council staff worked either in public-facing roles or in sites with a public-facing component.

Ms Graham said on Friday members of the public entering council facilities had been positive and patient.

‘‘There have been no reported security issues and we have received a mixture of positive and negative comments.’’

grant.miller@odt.co.nz

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