New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern today announced vaccination will be mandated in any workplace that requires a certificate of vaccination for entry.
Last week the government announced details of its Covid-19 Protection Framework last week, involving the roll-out of a “traffic-light” system once all district health boards (DHBs) hit 90 percent full vaccination rates.
Ardern told media the government wanted everyone to move towards the new system announced and urged vaccination rates to increase.
She said this was the “best way to give certainty to business and to our communities”.
“We need to ensure vaccination rates lift. So please don’t wait until cases come to your town or your city, get vaccinated now,” she added.
Under the new traffic light system, hospitality, hair dresses and gyms can operate at all levels if they ask customers for vaccine certificates.
The government had already mandated vaccinations for people working at the border, and in the health and education sectors.
“If customers must be vaccinated, then so too, must the workers,” she said.
“The timing of this coming into force will depend on when we move to the Covid-19 Protection Framework.”
Watch the media briefing
Today’s media conference. Video: RNZ News
Ardern said the requirement would ensure staff and customers were treated equally, and it would play a “big part in helping to minimise the spread of the virus in the highest risk venues by reducing the potential for covid to enter the business”.
The prime minister rejected suggestions the new requirement constituted government overreach and said the move had a public health basis, which balanced the rights of workers with the rights of business clients.
Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety Michael Wood said the current orders in place covered 15 percent of the workforce.
“Our estimate is that those workplaces covered by covid vaccine certificates are potentially around about 25 percent of the workforce,” he said.
“So, that would bring it to about 40 percent in total, noting that other workplaces would still have access to the simplified risk management framework.”
‘Ban unvaccinated people from domestic flights’
Leading epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker said banning unvaccinated people from taking flights would help stem the spread of covid-19
Dr Baker said allowing unvaccinated people on a plane increased the risk of infection.
He told RNZ the ban needed to happen on domestic flights now to protect travellers.
Dr Baker said it was recognised groups of people should not congregate indoors unless they were vaccinated.
This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.