Southern councils move on vaccine passes

Mike Theelen. PHOTO: PAUL TAYLOR
Mike Theelen. PHOTO: PAUL TAYLOR
More Southern councils will require proof of Covid-19 vaccination at their facilities.

The Queenstown Lakes District Council will require people aged 12 and older visiting most of its staffed services, facilities and venues from today to show proof of full vaccination against Covid-19, and wear a mask on entry.

Chief executive Mike Theelen said the council’s decision had not been made lightly but it was an important part of its responsibility to protect staff and the wider community.

Specific facilities and venues that required proof of vaccination included the Queenstown Events Centre, the Wanaka Recreation Centre including aquatic facilities and swim school, the Arrowtown Memorial Pool, the Frankton Golf Centre — proof of vaccination was not required to use the golf course itself — and all council libraries.

Community venues such as the Queenstown Memorial Centre, the Arrowtown Athenaeum Hall and the Lake Wanaka Centre also required proof of full vaccination.

Public reception areas at council offices in Gorge Rd in Queenstown and Ardmore St in Wanaka remained open to everyone.

Mr Theelen said he encouraged everyone to be patient and remain kind to one another.

‘‘It’s incredibly disappointing that many of our frontline staff are already being verbally abused and threatened and I would ask people to recognise and respect that council staff are just trying to do their job.’’

The Central Otago District Council would require vaccine passes at some of its facilities and had adopted a phasing-in approach to have systems in place and to allow the community to prepare.

That meant that from next Friday, visitors aged 12 and over would have to show their government My Vaccine Pass on arrival at all council-run pools — Alexandra, Cromwell and Ranfurly — all Central Otago libraries and at the council-run iSites in Ranfurly and Roxburgh.

Both the Roxburgh iSite and library operated as a shared service with the council’s Roxburgh Service Centre, meaning that would also require a vaccine pass for entry.

At all other council offices and facilities the council would be working within the traffic light settings requiring people to mask up, social distance, scan or sign in, and observe capacity limits.

Council chief executive Sanchia Jacobs said she believed the decision was balanced for the risk profile specific to Central Otago and council staff.

The council was ‘‘conscious that some our facilities require intermingling of people in close proximity, and that the school holidays and increased domestic travel is fast approaching’’.

Clutha District Council chief executive Steve Hill said the council did not, at present, require vaccination passports at its facilities, although it remained ‘‘an evolving field’’.

From January 17 the Waimate District Council would require vaccine passes to enter the local government centre, the Waimate District Library, the Norman Kirk Memorial Swimming Pool, the Waimate Event Centre and the Waimate dog pound.

The vaccine pass would not apply to the Waimate Lakes camping area, campgrounds, resource recovery park, public toilets or parks and reserves.

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