Mackenzie Community Centre banner image

COVID-19 Council Facilities and Restrictions

Mackenzie District is currently at Traffic Light Orange.

COVID-19 - Council Facilities and Restrictions

Planning for COVID is an evolving situation and Mackenzie has reconsidered its approach in the light of the recent announcement by Central Government. A decision has been made that from 11.59pm on Monday 4 April, Mackenzie District Council will not require visitors to have a My Vaccine Pass to access the Mackenzie District Council offices or facilities that have been operating under the Vaccine Passport system for the last 3 months or so.

The Council has made the decision to remove the vaccine pass requirement in light of the different COVID-19 environment from when the passes were introduced, and the Government’s announcement last week of changes to the traffic light settings.

Following the Government’s announcement the Council conducted a review of its own health and safety risk assessment, with careful consideration given to the Government’s guidance and public health advice.

The Council also considered its approach relative to other councils, as well as taking into account the current outbreak in South Canterbury, including the high vaccination rates in Mackenzie.

The district is still experiencing transmission and so most other health and safety measures will remain in place at Council facilities to reduce the likelihood of infection to the users of our facilities and our staff.

This means masks are still required in all Council facilities and some capacity limits may still apply indoors.

People are encouraged to keep safe distancing and asked not to visit a Council facility if they are unwell.

The requirement to scan-in using the Covid Tracer App at Council facilities has been removed by the Government as part of the changes in traffic light settings.

The Council is continuing to work with the South Canterbury District Health board to support the distribution of rapid antigen tests (RATs) in the district, including in remote rural communities.

The Council is also reviewing its staff vaccination policy and has opened consultation with all staff.

I pay rates and you aren't letting me use your facilities, can I get a refund?

Rates are considered to be a tax on your property, not a payment for a specific service. Facilities like roads, pools, parks, libraries, museums and galleries are funded on a ‘common good’ basis. It’s been decided that these things are a benefit to the whole community whether you use them or not, so everyone contributes to them.

An example is someone who doesn’t have a driving license. They’re not allowed to drive on the road, but they still contribute to the cost of maintaining the roads because it’s a benefit to the wider community. This is different to things like rubbish collection that benefit you directly, which you pay for on an individual basis through a targeted rate, if you receive that service.

Therefore, regardless of an individual’s choice to use a particular facility, the liability for the payment of rates remains.

Advice from MBIE says that Libraries, Pools, Museums, galleries etc should be open and non-vaccine mandated.

This is advice from MBIE, but councils are able to set their own local rules based on local conditions.

We have decided that MDC’s approach, in line with most other councils, is to offer the highest level of protection while offering the best level of access for the vast majority of the community with Vaccine Passes.

This is a private health matter, Council has no right to do this.

As a local council it’s our duty to help deliver the public health response and play our part to minimise the risk and impact of an outbreak in the community we serve. We’re operating under clear guidance and legal authority from the Government, and it’s Council’s priority to promote healthy and safe community access to our services.

This is discriminatory.

Vaccine mandates comply with the Bill of Rights as the overall benefit to the community of Vaccination outweighs people’s individual rights.

The New Zealand Human Rights Commission has a significant number of resources on the topic.

Workplaces are open at red.

Vaccinations for Staff

All current staff must be vaccinated to work in Council offices.

Roster and Arrangements

Staff, as of April 2022, continue to work on a team roster basis until the CEO agrees it is appropriate to return to the office.

The team roster reduces from two weeks to one week with effect from 11 April.

The Twizel office staff remains in their own “bubble”.

Return to office

The CEO will agree a date by which all staff will all return to the office and this will be communicated to all staff well in advance and appropriate IT arrangements will be made to relocate equipment and yourselves back into the office.

Masks are to be worn when moving around Council offices.

Unvaccinated staff or Contractors

Unvaccinated staff or contractors will be able to return to the office on an agreed date and will be required to submit a negative RATS test every 3 days to the People and Culture manager, or their appropriate line manager. The cost of the RATS test will be at the Council’s cost as it is a Council requirement to keep our workplace safe.

From 11:59pm on Monday 4 April, Mackenzie District Council will not require visitors to have a My Vaccine Pass to access the Mackenzie District Council offices or facilities that have been operating under the Vaccine Passport system since December 2021.

Mask wearing is mandatory in public areas and for employees and contractors unless seated at a desk or in a meeting room.

Children under 12 years and 3 months of age are exempt from the requirements.

Resource Recovery Parks, public toilets, playgrounds, parks and cemeteries will not require a vaccine certificate.

Mackenzie District’s Community Halls and Event Centers are not public facilities in the sense that they are not freely available to the public (in the way that museums, art galleries and libraries might be). They are solely places where events and gatherings take place, and therefore under the orange framework particular rules apply. Council has chosen to require vaccine certificates for these venues on the basis that it will cause the least amount of disruption for the greatest number of people.

For example, if an event is to be held in the theatre and 200 tickets have been sold, assuming 90% of the population are vaccinated and have certificates, 180 people would theoretically be able to attend and 20 people would be disappointed. If vaccine certificates are not required, 50 people would be able to attend and 50 would be disappointed.

Outdoor events on council land must comply with the requirements.

Outdoor events in defined and managed areas where vaccine certificates can be checked are not subject to restrictions.

These facilities are operated by third parties on behalf of Mackenzie District Council and they will provide advice on the appropriate protocols.

Mackenzie District Council does not operate any facilities of this type.