With increasing numbers of COVID cases in the community, including the highly transmissible Omicron variant, with more expected in coming weeks, Hastings District Council has added to its list of facilities and service buildings that will require people to have vaccine passes for entry under the red traffic light setting.
From February 2 passes will be required at all council aquatic facilities (indoor and outdoor), the Hastings and Havelock North i-Sites, Council’s civic administration building on Lyndon Rd and its Warren and Hastings St offices, the wastewater treatment plant, Animal Control Centre, Flaxmere and Camberley Community Centres, Civil Defence building on Lyndon Rd, the cemetery and crematorium offices (not including the chapel) and the Mahi for Youth caravan and pop-up centre in Hastings city.
This adds to the existing vaccine pass locations: The Hastings, Havelock North and Flaxmere libraries, FlaXrock Gym, Hastings Sports Centre, Hastings Art Gallery and Toitoi – Hawke’s Bay Arts and Events Centre.
The requirement includes all council employees, contractors or suppliers who access these buildings or facilities, as well as the public.
Council chief executive Nigel Bickle said the main consideration in coming to this decision was keeping the community and council staff safe.
“We conducted a thorough risk assessment before making this decision, balancing current government requirements and accessibility to our services with the health risks.
“We are obliged under the Health and Safety at Work Act to take whatever steps we practicably can to keep our customers, the public and our staff safe.
“Ministry of Health advice is very clear that being vaccinated is the strongest, most effective tool to protect against infection and negative health impacts from COVID-19.
“These facilities and services have a wide variety of users, some of whom are more vulnerable – such as older people and children – and we need to ensure these spaces are able to be accessed safely, both for the public and our staff.”
Three facilities will remain open to customers without vaccine passes – the Henderson Rd recycling and transfer station, Ōmarunui landfill, and the Hastings chapel.
The rubbish and recycling sites are considered low risk as they are outdoors with good ventilation – and they also provide essential waste and recycling services for the district.
With regard to the chapel, Government guidelines for funerals and tangihanga allow whānau and family to decide whether or not they require vaccine passes, with numbers limited if passes are not used.
Mr Bickle said that where possible, Council will work with members of the public unable to comply with the policy to provide alternative means of accessing services.
“Our teams are looking at safe ways to still offer services to all members of our community – for example the libraries already offer online services and the gallery has already been offering free school holiday Art-to-Go packs and free outdoor public art walking tours once a month over summer.”
In addition to requiring vaccine passes, all staff and visitors aged 12 years, three months or older are required to wear a mask in Council facilities. If people have a medical exemption from wearing a mask, they are asked to show this to staff when they enter.
Visitors are also asked to scan or sign in when visiting buildings and facilities.
Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said that councillors fully supported the decision.
“Being vaccinated is the best defence we have against both the spread of the virus and to avoid potentially overwhelming our health services.
“My thanks go to the community for their support of the requirement to have vaccine passes to date, and for getting themselves and their whānau vaccinated and boosted.”
The vaccine pass requirements will continue to be reviewed in line with any further guidance from Central Government and as changes to the protection framework status are announced.
1 February 2022
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