Covid-19 Local Government Response Unit Update – Wednesday 20 October 2021

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Here’s today’s update

  • On Monday, 18 October 2021, the Prime Minister announced the Cabinet Alert Level decisions for Auckland, Northland and the Waikato.
    • Auckland remains at Alert Level 3 (Step 1) with no change to the current restrictions. These restrictions will stay in place for a further two weeks.
    • Northland moves to Alert Level 2 on 11:59pm Tuesday 19 October.
    • Waikato remains at Alert Level 3. This will be reviewed and updated on Friday 22 October.
  • The rest of New Zealand remains at Alert Level 2 with current restrictions in place.
  • Our guidance for council services and operations under the current alert level settings can be found on the Local Government Response Unit webpage
  • If councils identify any issues when using the guidance, please provide feedback to the Response Unit.

The Government will be making further announcements this week

  • Today the Prime Minister outlined several announcements that will be made later this week.
  • Today, the Minister of Education announced that onsite learning at schools in Level 3 regions will start from Tuesday 26 October for senior secondary school students to prepare for end of year exams.
  • On Friday, the Government will announce a new COVID-19 protection framework. This will include a revised vaccination target that will be necessary to be able to allow Auckland to transition to the next step of less restrictions.
  • On Friday, the Minister of Finance will also provide details on a revised Business Support Package for Auckland business affected by the lockdown.
  • The Response Unit is also still awaiting final advice from the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education regarding mandatory vaccinations for these sectors. When we receive this advice, we will be providing all relevant information out to the sector, and work to develop further guidance where necessary.

Third Primary Dose and Booster Vaccines

  • The COVID-19 Technical Advisory Group has recommended that individuals aged 12 and older with severe immunocompromise receive a third primary dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
  • A primary third dose is different to a booster dose for the general population.
  • More information will be provided in the coming week about eligibility requirements and how to access a third primary dose.
  • Information will be made available on the Ministry of Health website.
  • Under the current immunisation programme, you cannot receive a third booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine in New Zealand unless you qualify under the criteria for a third primary dose. 
  • The Ministry is reviewing the research as it becomes available and expects to make a decision about booster doses for the general public in the coming months.

Information on current cases, COVID-19 test sites and economic support

  • Today there are 60 new cases in the community, 56 in the Auckland region and 4 in Waikato. Of these, 22 cases are yet to be linked to a current case.
  • Available testing sites can be found on the Ministry of Health website: Available testing sites.
  • Locations of interest can be found at Locations of Interest, and is being updated as soon as information is available.
  • Economic assistance is available for those impacted by the lockdown, more information available on the COVID-19 website.

ACC covers adverse side effects from workplace mandatory vaccination

  • Following enquiries from councils, we have confirmed with officials from ACC that workers have access to ACC entitlements in the case of injuries/adverse effects from workplace mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations.

Mandatory Vaccination

  • On Monday 11 October it was announced that Cabinet have mandated vaccination for large parts of the health and education workforce. High risk health professionals will need to receive their first vaccination by 30 October and be fully vaccinated by 1 December 2021. Those who work in education must have their first vaccination by 15 November and be fully vaccinated by 1 January.
  • We are aware councils have staff who interact with schools and health services. As noted above, we will provide details on implications for councils as soon as we can.
  • We continue to receive a lot of queries from councils about vaccinations requirements for staff. As noted in our special 5:15 on 8 October, we are currently working with the Public Services Commission, LGNZ and Taituarā to have more information and resources for councils. This is likely to include a webinar for all council HR managers. In the meantime, the Employment NZ webpage contains very useful information on ‘requiring vaccinations’ for staff: Vaccines and the workplace » Employment New Zealand

New QR code requirements

  • Three new requirements for display of QR code posters came into effect at 11.59pm on Tuesday 5 October. The changes mean additional copies of a COVID-19 QR code will need to be located through businesses and locations, in addition to the main entrance. They must be kept in good condition and must not be altered in a way which makes it unclear it has been issued by the New Zealand Government for the purpose of contact tracing.
  • Public transport operators are also included and will need to display additional copies of QR codes. This is in addition to the existing requirement to display a copy in a prominent place on or inside any vehicle. Vehicles with five or fewer seats including taxis and ride shares are exempt from displaying additional copies.

Epidemic notice remains in force

The Epidemic notice was renewed on 8 September 2021 and will remain in place for three months. More information of the provisions in the notice are outlined in previous Response Unit updates, which can be viewed on the Local Government Response Unit webpage