Auckland Museum is introducing a vaccine mandate for all staff, volunteers and visitors as soon as the city moves to the new traffic light system.
Chief executive Dr David Gaimster said everyone aged 12 and over entering Tāmaki Paenga Hira Auckland War Memorial Museum will be asked to show proof of their vaccination before being admitted.
The museum is one of the city's most popular destinations, attracting between 750,000 and 950,000 visitors a year before the Covid pandemic. Successive lockdowns and the loss of international tourists has dramatically cut visitor numbers to about 500,000.
"This decision is firmly based on the health and safety of our people and our visiting public and is in line with decisions the Government has announced for other industry sectors," Gaimster said.
He said the museum operates in the education, retail and hospitality domains, which all have mandated requirements for vaccine certificates.
Consultation with staff and volunteers and the development of a risk assessment framework had informed the decision, he said.
With a physical environment and highly interactive experience, the museum hosts large numbers of both school groups and families with children as core audiences.
"Auckland families with children under the age of 12 make up roughly half of our visiting public," Gaimster said.
"It was important for us to consider all reasonable measures we can put in place to best mitigate any potential health and safety risks. This requirement provides an added layer of safety and protection for museum visitors who are unable to be vaccinated."
Gaimster said the Government had been clear that vaccine passports as part of the newly introduced Covid-19 traffic light system would be a core requirement for a wide range of activities and freedoms, while offering the framework organisations need to operate and plan for the future.
"It is important therefore that the museum has a policy that enables people to make informed decisions with clarity," he said.
"We want to give our visitors confidence that when they return to the museum it is as safe as possible. We anticipate this will provide welcome reassurance to our visitors and we look forward to welcoming them back to their museum."
The museum will re-open on Monday under the new level 3 step 2 conditions. It will limit the number of visitors inside the building to 500 at a time.
The vaccine mandate will not apply until the new Covid Protection Framework (traffic light system) comes into effect, possibly in early December.
Gaimster said the museum would continue to follow all Government advice and regulations as information becomes available. Some of the practical details about how the policy will be implemented will be determined over the following weeks before the policy takes effect.
"We do understand that while some people may feel that this decision impinges on their freedom of choice, it is important to note that the policy does not force anyone to get vaccinated.
"That decision remains entirely a matter of personal choice, and the museum respects the individual's right to choose. However, with 90 per cent vaccination rates across Auckland, we are confident this decision will best serve the majority," Gaimster said.
The council body responsible for Auckland Zoo, New Zealand Maritime Museum and Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki is working on a vaccine policy.
Auckland Unlimited chief executive Nick Hill said it strongly supports vaccinations as an important frontline defence against the harmful impacts of Covid-19 and gathering feedback on a proposed policy.