Covid-19 Local Government Response Unit Update - Wednesday 2 March 2022

Local Government Response Unit main page

Today’s update:

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

Changes to guidance for EOTC providing venues:

Today, Wednesday 2 March, The Minister of Education signalled further changes to the Covid-19 Protection Framework for curricular and extracurricular school activities, including education outside the classroom (EOTC). This change will take place no later than 15 March, and we will update you on the exact dates as soon as we know.

These changes will apply to council venues that are used for these activities and require a Vaccine Pass.

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.

The new change means that for these venues, the Vaccine Pass requirements will no longer apply for those participating in school-related activities (curricular or extracurricular). These kids will, in practice, be ‘exempt’ from vaccine pass requirements and there will be no requirement for facilities to partition off space for these groups.

This means that children and young people who are in a school-organised team, group or individual activity cannot be asked for a vaccine pass and must be treated by the activity organiser or venue operator as if they were vaccinated

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

A reminder that at Red, these activities will still be able to have up to 100 participants in a defined space, so long as the adult participants have a My Vaccine Pass.

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

Phase Three resources to use when communicating with your community

The central COVID-19 Response Unit have provided some clear messaging lines and visuals around self-isolation requirements during Phase Three that they are keen for councils to use in their messaging to the community.

These are:

  • Cases will be identified via a positive PCR or rapid antigen test (RAT) and will need to isolate for 10 days.
  • Household contacts of cases will immediately self-isolate for 10 days at the same time the positive household case is confirmed. They need to get a RAT on day 3 and 10.
  • Close Contacts are no longer required to self-isolate, but do need to monitor for symptoms for 10 days and get tested if they become symptomatic.

Attached are two tools that can help people determine what type of contact they may be, and what they should do if you need to isolate:

Simpson Grierson article on workplace vaccination mandates

Simpson Grierson have published an article on their website, which provides some legal commentary on the future of vaccination mandates for employees. This is following the recent High Court decision regarding the Government’s requirement for New Zealand Police and Defence Force workers to be vaccinated.

The article is available to read here: Vaccination Mandates – the beginning of the end?

In Phase Three

At phase three the system moves into increasingly self-management of COVID-19 with increased reliance on self-reporting and changes to who needs to self-isolate.

Councils should be focussing on strong infection control process and measures (masks and distancing) especially as close contacts will no longer need to self-isolate.

Confirmed cases are required to isolate for 10 days and will self-release after day 10, providing that testing requirements are met.

Close contacts are not required to self-isolate under phase three. As such, they will no longer use the close contact exemption scheme or have the same use for Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs).

Household contacts who live in the same house as infected cases will still be required to self-isolate.

  • What type of contact are you
  • Updated guide to self-isolaton

Household contacts will need to get tested on day three and day ten. If they develop symptoms, they are encouraged to test sooner. “The entire household can end self-isolation on the same day as the (first) person with COVID-19 in the household, provided no one has new or worsening symptoms AND day 10 tests are negative.”

Because household contacts are required by law to self-isolate they can use the close contact exemption scheme to return to work if they are asymptomatic and meet the requirements of the scheme (i.e. are critical workers)

Additional information can be found at the Unite Against Covid website. If you need health advice contact your normal health provider such as your GP or ring Healthline on 0800 358 5453

Assistance and support available should you or your staff need to isolate

The Care in the Community approach aims to assist people with COVID-19 through the illness and reduce the risk of transmission.

Most people will be able to manage self-isolation with help from friends and whānau, however for those who require extra support if you have COVID-19 or are self-isolating - there is help available.

MSD also has a range of financial assistance through the COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme and the COVID-19 Short-Term Absence Payment which local government staff can apply for if they are required to isolate and miss work