3 Dec 2021

Traffic light system: Councils work out access to venues

10:35 am on 3 December 2021

Councils around the country have been working out how to meet the needs of locals while keeping everyone safe - whether in red or orange traffic light settings.

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Councils have been doing risk assessments for their facilities. Photo: RNZ / Nate McKinnon

Auckland entered the Covid-19 protection framework in red, along with Northland, Taupō, Rotorua Lakes, Kawerau, Whakatāne, Ōpōtiki, Gisborne, Wairoa, Rangitīkei, Whanganui and Ruapehu districts. All other regions are in orange.

Tairawhiti is in red and Gisborne mayor Rehette Stoltz told Morning Report people would need vaccine passports when accessing council facilities.

She said it was a straightforward decision considering the area's vaccination rate and high deprivation and health needs in the region which has only a small hospital.

Mayor Rehette Stoltz said the resident secured a speaking spot at the Sustainable Tairāwhiti meeting on the ground that he was talking about sustainability.

Gisborne mayor Rehette Stoltz Photo: Supplied / LDR

"We service a vast area, so for us it just made absolute sense to take this cautious approach."

Every council received information from government but also had the opportunity to do its own assessment, she said.

Buller District is in orange, and mayor Jamie Cleine said vaccine passes would not be required for council offices and facilities like libraries, but would be needed for the flood recovery hub - where a lot of people were coming and going - and hospitality-linked venues.

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Buller district mayor Jamie Cleine Photo: Supplied

Public health requirements would continue to be required in all offices and venues, though, such as social distancing, scanning in and mask-wearing, he said.

"We see a lot of council services as pretty much essential services ... our library for instance provides a lot of services for vulnerable people, including helping people get the vaccine pass on their phones, also a lot of online access for bill-paying and so on.

"We needed to balance the obligation to be available for all of the community."

Whanganui mayor Hamish McDouall was comfortable with the district entering the traffic light system at red.

The decision raised the hackles of some locals upset that other regions with Covid-19 in the community, including neighbouring Taranaki, started at orange.

McDouall said the clear road out of red was vaccinations.

The rate of full vaccination for the Whanganui population is 79 percent compared to 86 percent nationwide. For Māori in Whanganui the fully vaccinated rate is 67 percent, just under the national rate.

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