Council has paid $20K for vax pass security

Invercargill ratepayers have paid $20,000 for security related to the city council’s vaccine passport requirements.

Invercargill city councillors voted last month to make vaccine passes mandatory for entry to the council’s pools, libraries and museum, and the council chambers.

Council leisure and recreation group manager Steve Gibling yesterday said security guards had been in place since mid-December at the Invercargill Public Library, Splash Palace and He Waka Tuia in order to help check vaccine passports and provide support to staff.

While the security spend for the past month was an estimated $20,000, the period included some statutory days which had inflated the costs, he said.

The additional operating costs were being paid for through each of the facilities’ operational budgets, but "operational efficiencies" were being sought.

"No direct cost cuts have been undertaken as a result of having security present," he said.

Last month’s decision to require vaccine passes was made only days after council chief executive Clare Hadley told the Otago Daily Times the organisation had "undertaken a considerable risk assessment across its facilities" and would not be introducing the measure, but that it would also be reviewing the situation as information came to hand.

At the time, two public submissions, made by Dr Sophie Febery and nurse Nikki Harrison, appealed to the councillors to keep the facilities open for all.

In her presentation, Ms Harrison said, "Forcing segregation on to individuals when it [is] not justified and doesn’t improve safety outcomes only enforces the fracturing of society and encourages divisive attitudes."

Performance, policy and partnership committee chairman Darren Ludlow said then that it was important for the council to be "nimble and respond where the situation changes".

"We are being asked to provide leadership. The one thing I don’t want to do is impose on people’s democratic rights to participate in democracy and to come in and be able to do the normal business with council which we had to suspend," Cr Ludlow said.

After a three-hour debate, councillors did not unanimously agree on the decision, Cr Ian Pottinger voting against making vaccine passports mandatory for access to the city’s library.

Requiring vaccines passes for the pool and museum facilities received unanimous support.

Yesterday, Mr Gibling said police had attended five incidents at council facilities since the vaccine pass decision: three at the council administration building, one at the library and one at art gallery and museum He Waka Tuia.

"As with all matters relating to the pandemic, council will keep arrangement under constant review," Mr Gibling said.



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