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The Government is embarking on a week of sweeping Covid-19 policy changes as it transitions away from the elimination strategy.
Changes to the length of MIQ stays went to the Cabinet on Monday and will be announced later this week. This is likely to mean shorter says in MIQ for some returning Kiwis, depending on where they have travelled from.
It is the first step on the road to eventually getting rid of MIQ.
Also expected to be announced this week is a decision on when school pupils in Years 1 to 10 will be allowed to return to class in Auckland.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern would not be drawn on what the Cabinet had decided on Monday, saying Covid-19 Minister Chris Hipkins would announce these changes, likely on Wednesday.
"Top of mind for us has been making sure that whatever we do is undertaken as safely as possible - particularly when you factor in that decision-making here will impact those who may not be able to be vaccinated," Ardern said.
As much as 40 per cent of New Zealand's entire workforce will be required to be vaccinated or face losing their jobs, under sweeping new changes announced by Ardern on Tuesday.
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Those who opt-out will get four weeks, or their contracted notice period, to get their jabs or face the sack.
The changes were unveiled against the backdrop of allegations made by National and ACT that the Government was making unvaccinated Kiwis second-class citizens by restricting their freedoms.
The vaccine rules would require any employee working in a role where customers need to show Covid vaccination certificates to be vaccinated themselves.
That means hospitality, events, and other close contact businesses like gyms and hairdressers.
Chef Peter Gordon told Mike Hosking on Newstalk ZB said businesses had been looking for guidance around vaccines and the mandate for various workforces was "really helpful for us".
"There is a chance there would be a labour shortage, we're struggling as it is ... [but] everyone wants all their staff to be vaccinated and wants to get on with life and some sort of normality."
With the new rules, it would then be policy that unvaccinated people can't come in.
"Now we can say that we won't let you in ...it's much easier on the staff, there'll be no confrontations with people who don't want to follow the rules. It's good for business."
As for how businesses were going it was "pretty bad" but some had been able to pivot a little bit; doing click and collect or making home meals.
"We've been fortunate we have a fantastic landlord and landlords will play a huge part in the continuation of many businesses ...there's been carnage it's been tough, really, really tough. We're getting on top of this situation, the virus, and these new rules will help us."
Hospitality NZ chief Julie White acknowledged the Government's announcement on mandated vaccinations in certain workplaces and said they were thankful that the Government had listened.
"One of the things that has been stressing the industry, the business owners, is the lack of certainty and the legal framework," she told TVNZ Breakfast.
"We really welcome this new piece of legislation because at the end of the day, hospitality operators - the first priority is to protect their people and to protect our customers."
This now provided clarity about keeping them safe, she told Breakfast.
White said it also gives clarity to employees about the rules around vaccination and what that might mean for them depending on what they choose to do.
Speaking about vaccine certificates, National leader Judith Collins told TVNZ that it is very important that they are available for businesses that need to use them.
But she said National was concerned that when we get to 90 per cent double vaccination rates around the country, the certificates would not be ready.
"There's no legislation that has been [put] forward. Nothing has been done other than the announcements," Collins said.
"It's really important that we have an end date to these mandates...are we going to still have these mandates?"
Collins said we are going to end up with a two-class system, in terms of vaccination status, for some time.
But her message for people was clear - get vaccinated.
"It is really important for New Zealanders just to get vaccinated."
She called on people who have become confused about vaccinations and conspiracy theories on the internet - namely social media and YouTube - to seek advice from their trusted doctor or health professional instead.
"Do not take it from people you've never met, you don't know anything about them and their peddling conspiracy theories. Please get vaccinated and do it twice."
First Union general secretary Dennis Maga also acknowledged that clarity was now given to employees and employers about vaccination status after the Government's mandated vaccinations announcement.
But he said they are currently dealing with "a lot of consultations" from people across the board/
"We are concerned that employers are introducing vaccine mandates across the board and some of them are not justified," he told TVNZ.
Maga said they had been discussing issues connected to mandated vaccinations with employers - including issues about employees that had expressed they did not want to be vaccinated.
Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety Michael Wood said the rules were the result of calls from "employers and employees to provide certainty on what roles need to be done by vaccinated workers under the Covid-19 Protection Framework".
Wood would not say when the new rules would take effect, but said the precise timing would depend on when the Government shifted from the alert-level system to the "protection framework", better known as the new traffic light system.
Currently, businesses are able to do their own risk assessment to mandate vaccinations in their workplaces, but both businesses and unions have raised concerns that existing rules are not clear enough and do not provide employers with legal protection.
Wood said that employers will also be required to "keep records about workers' vaccination status".
"MBIE will work with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner to provide practical guidance on how to ensure workers' records are handled appropriately," Wood said.
The Government also announced a fix that would clarify that workers are able to have paid time off to get a vaccination.
The move was welcomed by Auckland Mayor Phil Goff who described it as a "practical step".
"This provides certainty for these businesses who have been seeking clarity on this matter, will help ensure that staff are safe at work, and will give Aucklanders confidence to shop, dine out, and enjoy all the things that make our city such a great place to live," Goff said.
"The requirement will effectively mandate vaccination for around 40 per cent of the workforce in Auckland, helping to further drive uptake of the vaccine as we strive to reach 90 per cent of the eligible population getting their second dose," he said.
There were 79 new cases of Covid-19 in the community reported yesterday, the lowest daily rate in more than a week. It is possible, however, the low rate was down to less testing over the long weekend.
Of those new cases, 33 were unlinked, bringing the 14-day total of unlinked cases to 281. A meagre 3492 people received their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine on Monday, bringing the national total of people who have received a single dose to 87 per cent.
The Government faced criticism from National and ACT that tighter vaccination rules were creating a second class of citizens.
The attack appeared to backfire on National leader Judith Collins, whose party had only weeks ago said vaccinated people should have "greater freedoms…compared to people who are unvaccinated".
Collins later had to issue a clarifying statement, saying National was only in favour of restricting freedoms of unvaccinated people using vaccination certificates until New Zealand had vaccinated 90 per cent of the eligible population.
"We support short-term widespread use of proof of vaccination as we continue our vaccination drive. As Kiwis get vaccinated, the Government should be relaxing restrictions on them. If Aucklanders had proof of vaccination now, we could relax travel limits on them and they could leave Auckland," Collins said.
"The National Party doesn't agree with the Government in their plan to impose restrictions with the mandatory use of vaccine certificates after we have hit their vaccine target of 90 per cent across all DHBs," she said.