DOC mandates Covid vaccines in huts and campsites

From December 15, all hikers over the age of 12 will have to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 to stay in Department of Conservation accommodation and campsites.

"All DoC campgrounds and huts will only be open to those who are fully vaccinated. When booking, visitors will be required to confirm they and all others in their group are fully vaccinated," said DoC Heritage and Visitors Director, Steve Taylor.

"Hut wardens and camp hosts are regularly on site and will be checking for vaccination status."

In more remote regions and huts without wardens there would be spot checks for campers' My Covid Pass.

DoC says the new vaccination policy is in addition to the current requirements.

These include wearing face coverings and distancing in DoC huts, when practically possible, and staying home when unwell.

"We will be finalising a vaccination policy for staff in the next fortnight," said Taylor.

However he said feedback from campers suggested there was "strong public desire" for a guarantee that other accommodation users are fully vaccinated.

Some facilities and unbookable huts may need to be closed at Red or Orange local levels and campers should prepare for this possibility when planning a trip.

With another summer of closed borders, DoC expects their network will be extremely busy.

Overnight visitors are asked to consider the risk before turning up to camp. Assessing the local 'traffic light' level - Red, Orange or Green - the number of campers in your group and how busy your visit is likely to be, can all help visitors make use of DoC facilities safely.

Tracks and trails on conservation land would remain open to all.

Unvaccinated hikers can still use tracks and some DoC toilets, but not stay overnight at DoC huts and campsites.

"These health and safety measures are being implemented to help keep visitors and staff safe and ensure New Zealanders can have a fantastic summer enjoying nature," says Taylor.

DOC will provide a full refund to those who are unwell, subject to travel restrictions, concerned about Covid-19 risks or who are not fully vaccinated.

With an extremely busy summer ahead, DoC has asked all visitors to check alerts before setting off at doc.govt.nz/know-before-you-go

 

 

 

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