Invercargill council decides on vax passes

Most councillors spoke in support of vaccine passes being required at most council facilities....
Most councillors spoke in support of vaccine passes being required at most council facilities. Photo: NZ Herald (file)
The Invercargill City Council has stepped back and will require vaccination passes for the majority of its facilities.

From next Monday, the public library, the council’s pool, Splash Palace, and the council’s chamber will require vaccine certificates - a change from the statement issued by the council last week.

During an extraordinary meeting yesterday of the council’s performance, policy and partnerships committee, chairman Darren Ludlow said it was not about reversing a decision, as it was the first time elected members had been able to discuss the matter.

Dr Sophie Febery and nurse Nikki Harrison spoke at the public forum and made a plea to council to keep all its facilities open for all.

"The Covid-19 crisis will not be with us forever, but the attitudes that we are encouraging now may never be eliminated in the fabric of society," Ms Harrison said.

After the public submission, councillors had a heated and lengthy three-hour debate about the issue.

Council strategic adviser Andrew Cameron said ICC facilities that were currently operating without requiring vaccination passports were still meeting the Government’s expectations.

The council could consider operating in a different way, but that would be a choice, not a requirement, he said.

Venue and events manager Richard McWha told councillors they would still be able to change their strategy and requirement for the pass if they wanted to do so.

Most councillors spoke in support of vaccine passes being required at most council facilities.

Mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt said freedom was important for him, but he believed the council should "harden up" in this case and protect the community.

Cr Nigel Skelt said it was time for the council to show leadership and mandate the vaccination pass in all facilities.

Cr Ian Pottinger said he did not believe in the logic behind the Government's traffic light system.

In a majority vote, councillors decided to require the vaccination pass in the council chamber and the first floor of the administration building, and at the public library, Splash Palace and the museum and art gallery He Waka Tuia.

Chief executive Clare Hadley said alternative methods of access to services other than face-to-face would be provided.

Cr Ludlow said while some people would be happy, others would be disappointed, "but I’m comfortable we have represented the various views within our community".

luisa.girao@odt.co.nz

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