Covid-19 Local Government Response Unit Update – Friday 4 February

Local Government Response Unit main page

Today’s update

Changes to the COVID-19 Order – Education outside the classroom

The amendment order gives effect to adjustments to the CPF settings to cater for Education Outside the Classroom (EOTC) and tightens the face covering rules in light of the Omicron variant.

Councils can choose to suspend their use of Vaccine Passes for EOTC for children 12 years and 3 months and up or for larger school groups where event/ gathering settings cannot be complied with. For EOTC experiences for those under 12 – there is no change to the existing arrangements, unless gathering/event requirements cannot be complied with.

To do so, you will need to ensure that you are able to manage those people in a defined space. Defined space is as described in the order

Business Continuity Case Study from MBIE

Apologies, the attachments that were promised yesterday for the Business Contiguity Case Study have been included in today’s email. These provide an example of the kind of business continuity documents which have been drafted for public sector agencies. You may find these useful in your own BCP development.

Waitangi Weekend Reminder

The Ministry of Health is reminding people going away for the long weekend to have plans in place if they are identified as a close contact, get COVID-19 symptoms, or find out they have COVID-19.

People will likely need to self-isolate, wherever they become a close contact or test positive, so there may be extra costs involved in paying for accommodation and changing travel plans.

Booster interval reduced from 4 to 3 months

If you have received your second vaccine more than three months ago, from today you are eligible for your booster shot. Now 1 million more New Zealanders will now be eligible for their booster shot.

This will mean that a total of 3,063,823 people aged 18 and over (two thirds of the population) will now be eligible for their booster.

More than 1.3 million people have already received their booster doses.

94 percent of people in New Zealand aged 12 and over have had both of their vaccinations with close to a quarter having received their booster shots as well.

You can get your booster at walk in vaccination sites or book an appointment by phoning the COVID Vaccination Healthline 0800 28 29 26 (8am – 8pm, seven days a week). You can also book online at

Free Webinar: COVID-19; Critical Workers and Rapid Antigen Tests

Taituarā are hosting a webinar  Wednesday 9 February which you are encouraged to attend 

Reminder of the Changes to mask usage

Face coverings are now required to be an actual mask – this means that scarves, bandannas, t-shirts pulled up over the face will no longer be acceptable. Ensure that your mask is designed to cover your nose and mouth properly.

Masks must be also be worn at food and drink businesses, close proximity businesses, events and gatherings. There is an exception for eating, drinking, and exercising.

All workers who are legally mandated to be vaccinated must now also wear a medical grade mask (for example a Type IIR/Level 2 masks or above while working in public facing roles.

Children from year 4 and up are now required to wear masks on public transport, including school buses.

Testing update

Phase One -

Phase One of the response to Omicron means continuing with the same testing, tracing, isolation and quarantine settings. PCR testing is the most effective way of testing during Phase One. As case numbers increase, testing, tracing, isolation, and quarantine settings will change.

The Ministry of Health has increased PCR testing capacity to 60,000 tests a day with a surge capacity of nearly 78,000 a day.

Phase Two –

Work is underway to determine how organisations running critical services including local authorities can access RATs in Phase Two.

Critical workers identified as close contacts will be able to use proof of a negative Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) to return to work during their required period of isolation if they are not symptomatic.

Omicron and Business Continuity Planning

Omicron has emerged as the dominant COVID-19 variant around the world. The majority of cases detected at the border are Omicron cases.  

This has seen less severe clinical outcomes, but significantly higher rates of transmission.  Given the higher rates of transmission, it is expected that if Omicron makes it into the community, we expect to see case numbers double every 2-3 days. This is consistent with international trends.

Many people will be affected, and workplaces will have high levels of staff on sick leave or isolation (as high as 25%). This means that council Business Continuity Plans (BCPs) are critical should an outbreak of Omicron occur in the community.

Central government agencies are considering a range of options including additional protection in the event of an Omicron outbreak. We anticipate that these can be implemented within the existing framework.