Covid-19 Local Government Response Unit Update - Friday 11 March 2022

 Local Government Response Unit main page

Today’s update: 

Today’s update is much shorter and focusses on key messaging around the change to the EOTC guidance and a new pathway for positive critical workers to return to work (in exceptional circumstances).

In our update on 2 March we noted that the Minister of Education has signalled further changes to the Covid-Protection Framework for curricular and extra-curricular school activities including education outside of the classroom (EOTC). We promised to update this group as soon as we had exact dates.

New Zealand is currently in Phase Three of the Omicron Management Strategy, and in the Red setting of the Covid Protection Framework.

Change to guidance for EOTC providing venues:

As at Saturday 12 March, there will be a change to the Covid-19 Protection Framework for curricular and extracurricular school activities, including those outside the classroom

The changes will apply in relation to students who are enrolled in registered schools and are participating in extra-curricular or curricular activity if:

  • the activity is organised, directed, or facilitated by the school; or
  • the student’s participation in the activity is organised, directed, authorised, or facilitated by the school.
  • these changes will apply to council venues that are used for these activities and currently require a vaccine pass, which they will no longer be allowed to do.

Currently, there is the option to not require Vaccine Passes for groups undertaking EOTC activities as long as these can be managed in a defined space. We are aware that some councils have also opted to use Vaccine Passes, and not allow EOTC activities to occur.

The new change means that for these venues, they will not be able to deny access on the basis of CVC requirements to a student participating in extra-curricular or curricular activities at the premise.

There is now also a requirement that where students have to go through an area controlled by the business to get to another area where the extra-curricular or curricular activity is held, they must not be required to have a Vaccine Pass.

For council venues that have chosen to not apply a Vaccine Pass setting, there is no change.

Good public health behaviours should continue to be followed. Mask requirements at schools remain in place.

Public Health were supportive of removing the Vaccination Passes for school sport noting the high levels of vaccination coverage in 12-17 year olds, New Zealand’s changing strategic approach to the Omicron outbreak, the importance of school sport on student wellbeing and consistency with activities allowed during school time.

Positive Critical workers returning to work

In exceptional circumstances, critical workers who are COVID-19 positive can now be exempted form isolation requirements to enable them to return to work.

The Director-General of Health now has the power to exempt certain COVID-19 cases from isolation requirements to enable them to return to work.

The bar for an exemption is very high and only a very limited number of exemptions are expected to be granted.

Workers must be vaccinated, and asymptomatic, and strict health guidelines must be in place

Criteria include that temporary disruption of the relevant business or service would cause significant economic, social, or physical harm to a community.

Agreement from the worker to be exempted is required, and engagement with relevant unions must be undertaken- which might be wise to do in advance of an urgent situation arising.

The attached flow chart shows the process, which is manual and requires an email to the Ministry of Health in the first instance.

Options for individuals seeking exemption from isolation from work (PDF, 147KB)

A reminder about Changes to Covid Isolation duration

The government has announced changes to the time periods you will need to isolate for cases and household contacts will change from 10 to seven days.

This change will come into effect at 11:59 tonight  

Household contacts will need to have a rapid antigen test (RAT) at day three and day seven of their isolation period. If they become symptomatic they should also get a test, and if they test positive, they should isolate for seven days from that point.


Taituarā will be consulting with Council HR managers to gather information on Monday on workforce situations and numbers of staff isolating as positive cases or household contacts.

We want to thank you for this feedback, as it is useful in feeding back to Ministers in their consideration of framework settings. These contributions help Ministers in their decision-making process, as seen in the past week with the shift from 10 to seven days isolation.