Covid-19 coronavirus Delta outbreak: Bay of Plenty councils grapple with traffic light system rules

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Covid-19 coronavirus Delta outbreak: Bay of Plenty councils grapple with traffic light system rules

Unvaccinated people will still be able to use swimming pools, libraries and other council facilities in the Western Bay of Plenty when the traffic light system starts from Friday.

The district, along with neighbouring Tauranga, will enter the new Covid-19 protection framework at the orange setting.

Tauranga City Council can’t yet say how it will manage access to its facilities.

According to the Government Covid-19 website, at red and orange, public facilities such as libraries, public galleries, museums, zoos, swimming pools and recreation centres can open.

The capacity limit is based on how many people – not including workers – can occupy the space if each person was 1 metre apart. People must scan in and wear face coverings but do not have to stay 1m apart.

The website says “public facilities may operate with My Vaccine Pass requirements.”

In a statement, the Western Bay council said it had “decided against” requiring a My Vaccine Pass for entry into its facilities.

At orange, access to the council’s facilities will be the same as at alert level 2.

Council chief executive John Holyoake said the decision was “not made lightly” given the organisation’s commitment to keeping staff, contractors, and customers and residents who use council facilities safe and healthy.

“We appreciate these are challenging and unsettling times for everyone but as a public service organisation, we will not be restricting people depending on their personal vaccine choices.

“Many of our council facilities are important hubs across the district for a range of services and so we will continue to make calculated decisions to balance continuity of council services with the safety of the public.”

Covid-19 coronavirus Delta outbreak: Bay of Plenty councils grapple with traffic light system rules

Katikati's Dave Hume Swimming Pool, pictured in 2012. Photo / NZME

Holyoake said facilities such as libraries, service centres, swimming pools and recycling and green waste centres would be open with capacity limits based on a one-metre distancing rule.

“At all council facilities the appropriate health, hygiene and safety measures will remain in place, including QR scanning upon entry using the COVID-19 tracer app, wearing a face mask, and ensuring physical distancing.”

He said the final council meetings for 2021will observe current protocols in place for elected members and staff present: contact tracing, social distancing, and mask-wearing.

Zoom options were available for members of the public who wish to speak in a public forum or attend remotely. Meetings will continue to be live-streamed on the council’s YouTube channel.

Covid-19 coronavirus Delta outbreak: Bay of Plenty councils grapple with traffic light system rules

Western Bay of Plenty District Council chief executive John Holyoake. Photo / George Novak

“We’re continuing to look for innovative ways to provide our district with access to our services in a safe way. Where we can, we will adapt the way we do things, like offering click and collect services at the library and continue to offer virtual council meetings,” Holyoake said.

Gareth Wallis, general manager of community services at Tauranga City Council, said the council was reviewing local government guidance to establish what a move to orange would mean for its facilities and services.

He told the Bay of Plenty Times it was “likely” that some additional staff or security would be needed to operate within the traffic light system, and that some staff will need additional training.

Access to council meetings would be largely the same as at alert level 2, with scanning required, mask-wearing, and capacity limits in place.

Covid-19 coronavirus Delta outbreak: Bay of Plenty councils grapple with traffic light system rules

A My Vaccine Pass will be required to enter many public facilities in Taupō from December 15. Photo / Bevan Conley

Auckland Council decided on Tuesday it would bar unvaccinated people from council-staffed services and facilities under the traffic light system.

The council confirmed that vaccination passes would be a requirement for people to enter facilities and council offices when they reopen until at least January 17 next year.

Mayor Phil Goff said the decision would help keep the council’s staff and customers safe and has his support.

He said research had shown the risk of infection between two unvaccinated people is 20-fold higher than between two vaccinated people.

Those without vaccination passes will still be able to access council services, but these would be delivered “in a different way”.

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