Covid-19 Local Government Response Unit Update – Wednesday 27 October 2021

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Key message for today – new framework, mandatory vaccinations and plan for the next month

There have been significant announcements over the last few weeks (including yesterday) on a new framework that utilises vaccination certificates and increases the number of roles that need to be undertaken by vaccinated workers.  The detail that sits underneath and gives effect to these decisions is being progressively developed over the next 4-5 weeks and is expected to come together after the 29 November Cabinet meeting.

Realising that 4-5 weeks is a long time for Councils needing to meet health and safety obligations and plan service delivery, the Response Unit has set out a plan for how we can support Councils through this period, including helpful legal advice and a planned webinar next week.

Today’s update

Today the Minister for COVID-19 Response announced that from 11:59 tonight, Wednesday 27 October, the Alert Level 3 restrictions in the Waikato will ease slightly to match the freedoms currently allowed in Auckland.

The Alert Level boundary between Auckland and the Waikato will stay in place.

The Alert Level and Step settings for both the Waikato and Auckland Regions will next be assessed by Cabinet on Monday 1 November.

The rest of New Zealand remains at Alert Level 2 with current restrictions in place.

On Friday 22 October, the Prime Minister announced plans to transition to the new COVID-19 Protection Framework with three levels: Green, Orange and Red. New Zealand will move to the new system when DHBs reach the double vaccination target of 90%. Auckland will move to the Red level as soon as all three of the Auckland DHBs hit the 90% double vaccination target.

On 29 November, Cabinet will review the vaccination progress to see if anything needs to change.

Today the Minister of Education announced that the government is planning for Auckland high schools to resume classes by mid-November, providing 15 November as a ‘tentative’ re-opening date.

Development of guidance for the new COVID-19 Protection Framework

The Response Unit is working on shaping up guidance for the new COVID-19 Protection Framework. The detail needed will emerge over the next 4–5 weeks with the final details not likely to be confirmed until after the 29 November Cabinet meeting. 

We expect to issue a new set of Guidance for council services the week of 29 November.

We are conscious that this is a long time away for Councils. We will be working with a sub-group of Councils to help shape the guidance and review the early iterations.

Both vaccination certificates and mandatory vaccinations will be a key part of the guidance. Below we have set out the details on these as they are currently known and the plan for the next 4-5 weeks.

All current details on the COVID-19 Protection Framework is available on the COVID-19 website: The COVID-19 Protection Framework | Unite against COVID-19 (, and the Response Unit provided an overview of the Framework in the update for Friday 22 October.

We have included useful a resource/poster for the framework: COVID Protection Framework simplified (PDF, 84KB)

Mandatory vaccinations for businesses

Yesterday, Tuesday 26 October, the Prime Minister announced yesterday that vaccinations will be mandatory for businesses where vaccination certificates are going to be used under the new protection Framework.

This includes events, hospitality and close contact businesses such as gyms, hairdressers. These requirements will have an impact for Councils or CCOs that operate venues, gyms or potentially café’s in Council buildings.

Further consultation is being undertaken with relevant industry bodies on whether these affected businesses will be able to opt out and choose not to utilise vaccination certificates, recognising they would be subject to operating restrictions and limits at all levels (Green, Orange or Red level). If they can opt out, then they may not be captured by the new vaccine mandate (yet to be decided).

Responding to calls for greater legal clarity and simplicity, the Prime Minister also announced a new risk framework will be legislated to support businesses undertaking assessments about roles and whether these would be required to undertaken by vaccinated staff.

This will be of interest to Councils that are currently considering their PCBU obligations and undertaking health and safety assessments. This new risk framework will be legislated with indications this will happen by end November, to align with the introduction of vaccination certificates.

Also announced is that work is underway on looking at Public Sector agencies and whether similar vaccinations may be required for front-line workers. We are expecting this will be useful to Councils who like most central government agencies have a mix of back office and front facing roles.

These announcements join the previous announcements about mandatory vaccinations for the health and education workforces. 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. We are still awaiting final advice from the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education regarding mandatory vaccinations for these sectors.  The latest information on these sectors and all mandatory vaccinations is available at Mandatory vaccinations for workers | Unite against COVID-19 (

Immediate advice on COVID-19 vaccination in the workplace

We recognise that the framework is changing and that Councils in the meantime need to fulfil health and safety obligations and plan for delivery of services.

To support Councils over the interim period, Taituarā commissioned advice from Simpson Grierson regarding vaccination in the workplace including the vaccination mandate placed on education and health sector staff.   The guidance highlights the importance of the risk assessment to determining which employees might require vaccination and the consequences if they choose to remain unvaccinated. This advice is available on the Taituarā website: Simpson Grierson Vaccination Advice (PDF, 197KB, LG Sector Toolkit website)

The Response Unit will be running a webinar next week for Councils to discuss this advice further and any other issues on vaccine mandates. Details will be in Friday’s 5:15.   

Elected Officials inbox

The Department of Cabinet Prime Minister host an Elected Officials inbox:, with responses managed by an all of all of government team.

This email inbox is a mechanism through which elected officials and their immediate staff can represent and get feedback on critical issues from constituents that they are seeking a higher level of all of government advice on.

It is requested that any advice that provided in response is fed back to the constituents through the office of the Elected Official and is not forwarded on complete with email addresses. This is to limit constituent’s direct access and risk overwhelming the system or compromising the quality of the advice returned.

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

Today there are 74 new cases in the community, 68 in the Auckland region and 6 in Waikato. Of these, 31 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.

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 .