Ta Kawa Mataaho Public Service Commission has released new guidance for post-winter COVID-19 management as the nation moves to a pandemic response that anticipates New Zealanders living with the virus as part of their everyday lives.
“COVID-19 will be in the community on an ongoing basis and the Post-Winter COVID-19 response will be the strategy for dealing with the virus,” the Commission said in a statement following the release of the new guidance.
“The waning of the Omicron wave does not signal the end of the pandemic. It is very likely there will be future waves and new variants of unknown severity and transmissibility. We need to plan for a range of scenarios and have systems ready in place to be able to be agile in response to developments.”
Complying with all required public health and social measures remains the bottom line for all agencies while continuing to provide public services for all of New Zealand, the new guidance states.
“As we move back to normal working systems, we will look to embed some policies as part of business as usual. However, it is important that we retain the ability to reactivate the mitigations that supported our response, to ensure we can quickly respond to a new wave or variant. Agencies will need to keep their health and safety risk assessments and policies under regular review as the situation develops.”
It said agencies should continue to engage with workers and unions on how they comply with the public health and social measures of the COVID-19 response.
The new guidance replaces the previous COVID-19 Vaccination Rollout Guidance and COVID-19 Public Sector Workforce Guidelines.
Agency chief executives are responsible for deciding how to apply this guidance in the particular context of their agency.
The new guidance is based on the current and immediately foreseeable COVID-19 context and will be reviewed and updated as changes to circumstances require.
“The guidance provides for a consistent approach to dealing with COVID-19 in the community and its impact, implementing policies, health and safety risk assessments, and processes across Public Service agencies and their workforces,” the Commission said.
“The Post-Winter COVID-19 response guidance supports the expectation that all public servants who can be vaccinated are vaccinated, and those eligible for boosters receive them in a timely manner.
“This consistency and alignment will support continuity of public services for New Zealanders, including those that are public facing. It will also support us to maintain the trust and confidence New Zealanders have in government and the Public Service.
“Above all else, the guidance aims to protect the communities public servants engage with, and the health and safety of public servants themselves, while ensuring New Zealanders can access the services they need.”
The guidance also supports agencies to normalise the management of leave while operating under the Post-Winter COVID-19 response settings.
View the guidance at this link.