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Unvaccinated have limited options in the region’s public facilities

The Carterton Events Centre will require a vaccine pass to enter. PHOTO/FILE

Unvaccinated people will be unable to use council pools, libraries, and some public spaces as from yesterday in Wairarapa.

The exception is Masterton District Library, which will not require a vaccine pass.

All attendees at council, community board, and committee meetings will require vaccine passes.

This was an operational decision made by council staff, not councillors, due to the introduction of the government’s traffic light covid-19 protection system which began yesterday.

Vaccine passes will be required for anyone aged 12 years and over at Wairarapa swimming pools, and children under 12 attending swimming pools will be required to be accompanied by an adult with a vaccine pass.

Vaccine passes will also be required at all Wairarapa libraries except Masterton library because it is a standalone facility with no movement of staff.

Masterton library users must continue to wear masks and observe social distance protocols, chief executive David Hopman said.

The Carterton Events Centre and its foyer, information desk, meeting rooms, Rangatahi Hub, adjoining library, and Community Courthouse will all also be vaccine pass areas.

Access to the Waihinga Centre in Martinborough for any meetings, events, use of any facility including the information centre, library or cafe will require a valid vaccine pass.

South Wairarapa Mayor Alex Beijen said the operational decision to require vaccine passes for the council facilities was not taken lightly, and was in response to providing a safe and healthy work environment for staff, as well as protecting the public from covid-19 infections.

“I respect the rights of people to choose regarding vaccination, however, we must act to protect the majority of our population, and those most vulnerable to the virus,” he said.

Carterton Mayor Greg Lang urged unvaccinated people to “please revisit your decision for the greater good”.

“I want to acknowledge the hard work of all three councils’ staff especially the library staff, and the Carterton Community Services team who have been overloaded with residents needing assistance downloading their vaccine passes.”

Carterton District Council chief executive Geoff Hamilton said council staff would keep a close eye on the patronage of both the library and the pool “to ensure our settings remain appropriate, and workable for all customers”.

“This is a challenging time for businesses, staff, our community, and the council organisation as we all figure out how to live with this virus. Without vaccine passes, we would be restricted in the some of the services and facilities we would be able to provide to our community.

“With 92 per cent of Wairarapa with their first dose, and 83 per cent fully vaccinated, we believe this is the safest approach for the majority.”

Masterton Mayor Lyn Patterson said the council’s priority was to “reduce the risk to our community, while maintaining services.

“We may all need to be a little patient as we get used to the new way of doing things, and let’s look out for one another by wearing a mask, social distancing, and contact tracing.”

Both printed vaccine passes, and digital versions saved to phones will be accepted, but not purple vaccination cards.

To ensure councils are following the government’s requirements, passes will be checked each time people enter any of the three councils’ vaccine pass areas.

Passes will not be required to access the public areas of council offices, but mask use and social distancing rules apply. Vaccine passes are not required at transfer stations, parks, cemeteries, or recreation trails, but mask use and social distancing remain in place.

These guidelines will be reviewed to reflect any changes to the government’s protection framework. — NZLDR

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