Upper Hutt council will not require vaccine passes at most public facilities

The My Vaccine Pass will not be needed to get into most Upper Hutt City Council facilities,
The My Vaccine Pass will not be needed to get into most Upper Hutt City Council facilities,

An Upper Hutt councillor says he is shocked at his council’s decision not to mandate vaccine pass use at most of its public facilities.

When the Covid-19 “traffic light” system comes into effect on December 3 the Upper Hutt City Council will not require visitors to its libraries and pool to produce a vaccine pass. Only visitors to the council-owned arts centre, Whirinaki Whare Taonga, will need to show a pass – children under 12 are excluded from this.

Councillor Dylan Bentley was not impressed by the policy.

“I would have like to have seen more widespread usage of the passes as I believe vaccines are our way out of the pandemic”.

Upper Hutt City Council’s stance on vaccine passes is noticibly out of step with other authorities in the region. Wellington City will require My Vaccine Pass for entrance to its indoor sites, while a pass will be needed at all Porirua City Council facilities.

* Wellington City Council will require vaccine passes at public facilities
* Vaccine passes required at libraries and pools in Timaru district
* Going orange: where you'll need your vaccine pass in Nelson-Tasman

Wellington City Council’s website states: “It will be legally required to provide a Covid vaccine pass to enter places that have vaccination requirements in place. The draft policy currently recommends council facilities including libraries, gyms, pools, recreation centres, community centres, service centre and some sports facilities require a Covid vaccination passport for entry.”

Bentley said ultimately it was an operational decision, “but I'd like to know how they arrived at this outcome after the risk assessment”.

Entering the arts centre carried the same risk as going to the pool or libraries, he said.

Cabinet has decided to trial the vaccine passport at hairdressers and barbers in Auckland. They can reopen from Thursday as long as they require proof of vaccination from Aucklanders.

In a press release, council’s chief executive Peter Kelly said community accessibility and equity were key considerations in the decision.

“Our pool, libraries and customer services functions at the council building are public facilities, it’s important to us that we continue to allow access for everyone in Upper Hutt.”

The statement said the council’s policy was subject to change, and reviews are scheduled for later in December and in January.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins, who is the MP for the area, said he was unaware of Upper Hutt’s policy until he heard from Stuff.

It was in line with government guidelines issued to councils, but he would have liked to have seen Upper Hutt take a more proactive approach.

He predicted it could cause problems in places like libraries. If someone wanted to rent a room in a library, for instance, the council would have to ask for evidence of a vaccine pass.

Hipkins said it was up to each council to decide its own policy and as long Upper Hutt followed the guidelines, it was not an issue for him to get involved in.