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Pandemic ‘not over yet’ – councils

The three Wairarapa councils will review their covid requirements in public spaces before changes are due to come in on April 4. PHOTO/STOCK.ADOBE.COM

Wairarapa councils will be taking the Government’s latest health advice into consideration as they review their vaccine pass requirements at public venues.

Decisions would be made by each council before government guidelines change on April 4.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Wednesday that as of 11.59pm on April 4, the Government would drop the vaccine pass mandates.

She said the passes had served their purpose in slowing the spread of covid-19, and given the omicron wave appeared to have peaked, it was time to retire them.

The red light setting would be reviewed the same day.

Carterton District Council chief executive Geoff Hamilton said council facilities requiring a vaccine pass were the events centre and library.

“This was to ensure protection of the particularly high-risk group of residents who use these facilities.

“Without a vaccine pass requirement under the red setting, the events centre would not be able to hold events and would have meant a significant financial and cultural loss for over 95 per cent of the community who hold passes.

“As the library is in the events centre building, and shares an entrance, communal space, and shared toilet facilities, it was included in the vaccine pass requirement.

“There would be a significant cost to separate the library from the events centre.”

In lieu of Wednesday’s announcement from the Government, the council would be “taking their public health advice into consideration and reviewing these settings”.

“We will make a decision about vaccine passes prior to the change to the Government’s guidelines on April 4.”

Hamilton was pleased that the council would be able to safely expand the audience numbers for events at the Carterton Events Centre from 100 to 200.

Neighbouring Masterton District Council requires vaccine passes at the Trust House Recreation Centre, the Wairarapa Archive, and some meetings at Waiata House.

Masterton District Council community facilities and activities manager Corin Haines said the council would consider the implications of Wednesday’s announcement on operations and would make public information on any changes before April 4.

Masterton Mayor Lyn Patterson was pleased to see restrictions begin to ease but acknowledged the impact of covid-19 would remain “for some time yet”.

“We are still seeing relatively high numbers of infections in Wairarapa, and I would encourage people to continue wearing masks, and get booster shots if they haven’t yet had one.

“They will still make a difference.”

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South Wairarapa District Council staff met on Thursday to discuss the government’s changes.

“Many of our facilities do not require vaccine passes already, including our parks, transfer stations, cemeteries and non-leased council camping grounds,” a spokesperson said.

“Those that do – the libraries and the Waihenga events centre in Martinborough – have required vaccine passes because of the risk of cross-contamination.

“Our libraries need staff to be able to move between sites, and a library and cafe – which was legally required to ask for vaccines passes – are located within the events centre.

“This measure protected both our staff and high-risk residents.

“Our pools this year were also restricted to those vaccinated because of the impracticality of wearing masks. We will be guided by the Government’s advice and make a decision before April 4.” — NZLDR

  • Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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