Taupō District Council will relax My Vaccine Pass requirements at some of its venues, offices and facilities from Monday.
Vaccine passes were introduced at council offices, facilities and venues in December. Chief executive Gareth Green says council management made a commitment to councillors that the decision would be continually reviewed in light of the fast-moving nature of Covid-19, and these reviews have now shown a change in approach can safely be implemented.
"At the time, there were a number of factors that led to the introduction of My Vaccine Pass requirements at council venues and facilities, particularly our low vaccination rates and the fact we are a summer holiday destination; and we wanted to do our utmost to help reduce the risks of spreading the Delta variant, which was the focus at the time.
"Of course, the situation continues to rapidly evolve and we are now dealing with a completely different scenario since that decision. Vaccination rates are up across our district, children's vaccinations have become available, Omicron is now the dominant variant, and the country has now fully transitioned away from an elimination strategy, as we all learn to live with Covid-19 in our community."
With the Government continually reviewing its position, including reduced isolation requirements, changes to contact tracing, border entry requirements including MIQ, and a relaxation of education mandates, Gareth says it is timely to review the council's position on the use of vaccine passes at its facilities.
"From this review, we believe timing is now right, with council having a range of tools in place including RATs and isolation requirements, that help us with quick testing and reducing transmission as well.
"Excluding anyone from our public facilities is certainly not something that anyone has enjoyed doing. We believe that it was the right thing to do at the time in order to ensure the safety of our staff and customers, whilst also ensuring that the venues could operate as normally as possible, but the settings have changed to such an extent that a different approach is now warranted."
As a result of this decision, council venues and facilities no longer requiring My Vaccine Pass for entry include:
• Taupō district libraries (Taupō, Turangi and Mangakino)
• The Superloo
• Taupō Museum
• Great Lake Centre
• AC Baths swimming pools
• Turtle Pools, Turangi
• Owen Delany Park
• All council offices
To ensure the community was able to access democratic and essential services, the customer service centres, council chamber, landfill and transfer stations have always remained open to both vaccinated and unvaccinated.
The vaccine passport mandate will continue in some venues, due to capacity numbers and other factors around staffing and central government guidelines within the red traffic light setting. This includes Taupō Events Centre and function rooms, Fitness Studio and The Rockwall.
While the vaccine pass requirements have been relaxed, under the current red setting, the Government has limits on the number of people who can attend events. If you have any doubts about sporting fixtures in council venues, or any other event, please contact the event organiser directly for advice on whether a vaccine passport is required.
Taupō District Mayor David Trewavas thanked the chief executive and staff for their work in reviewing the vaccine pass requirements and continuing to keep the community and the organisation safe.
"This is such a fast-paced environment and I take my hat off to the team for their work since December to help us get through the busy summer period. I am very pleased to be able to get to this position, where we can safely open our venues up across our district."