Covid-19 Local Government Response Unit Update – Thursday 3 February

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Today’s update

Booster interval reduced from 4 to 3 months

  • The government announced yesterday that it is reducing the time between your second vaccine shot and your booster shot.
  • From tomorrow, Friday 4 February 1 million more New Zealanders will 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 from this weekend.
  • 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

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

  • There has been an amendment to the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Protection Framework and Other Matters) Amendment Order 2022.
  • 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. This order comes into force from 11.59pm on Thursday 3 February 2022.
  • We are clarifying with the Ministry of Education as to how this affects the sector and will provide guidance when available.

Business Continuity Case Study from MBIE

  • Following on from last week’s CE’s webinar hosted by Taituarā, Suzanne Stew from MBIE has provided an example of the kind of business continuity documents which have been drafted for public sector agencies. These are attached to this email. You may find this useful in your own BCP Development.

Opening of New Zealand’s borders

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

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

Changes to mask usage

  • These changes will come into effect on 11:59pm Thursday 3 February 2022.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Ensure that your mask is designed to cover your nose and mouth properly.
  • 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.