"It's never okay to abuse or make staff feel unsafe."
This is Queenstown Lakes District Council chief executive's message to the public after several staff members experienced verbal abuse and threats ahead of today's shift to the orange traffic light setting.
The council confirmed it will be a requirement for people to use their My Vaccine Pass to enter its facilities.
People aged 12 and older visiting most of its staffed services, facilities and venues will need to show proof of full vaccination against Covid-19, and wear a mask on entry.
Council chief executive Mike Theelen said the change will be introduced as the district shifts to the orange light setting of the Government's Covid-19 Protection Framework (CPF).
"This is not a decision we have taken lightly but is an important part of our responsibility to protect our staff and communities as we move into a new phase of living with Covid-19.
"We have a very high vaccination rate right across the district so most people will be able to continue to use our facilities as usual. For those who can't, or have chosen not to get vaccinated at this time, we are endeavouring to adapt or modify our services so they can continue to participate in some form. Obviously this can't include using our pools and gym, but it can mean people accessing a growing range of online and contactless services."
For the time being, public reception areas at council offices at Gorge Rd in Queenstown and Ardmore St in Wānaka were open to everyone.
"We know these locations are important for members of the public to ask questions, seek advice and carry out transactions such as rates payments, and we're confident that through the continued use of plastic screens, face masks and physical distancing we can maintain the safety of customers and staff in these areas at present," Theelen said.
"We continue to actively review this position to reduce risk to staff and ensure QLDC's ability to carry out its many key functions and public services.
"It will take time to get used to the new system so I encourage everyone to be patient and remain kind to one another, especially at this busy time of year. It's incredibly disappointing that many of our frontline staff are already being verbally abused and threatened and I would ask people to recognise and respect that council staff are just trying to do their job. These are decisions of council made in alignment with Government direction and legislation. It's never okay to abuse or make staff feel unsafe."
He said the council will continue to review its policy in line with guidance from the Government with updates provided to the community at council venues, its website and social media channels.
The same rules regarding vaccination certificates also apply to council staff and contractors working in these locations.