Upper Hutt City Council has announced it will not require vaccine passes to be shown at most of its public facilities as the city moves to the traffic light system today.
The public facilities include Upper Hutt Libraries, Council’s Civic Centre and H2O Xtream Aquatic Centre, with the H2O Xtream Café operating a contactless service only.
Currently 90% of eligible people in Upper Hutt, Kāpiti and Wellington City are fully vaccinated, while 90% have had their first dose in Lower Hutt and Porirua.
Council says it made the decision after working through the advice received from Government, as well as sector specific advice from LGNZ, DIA and Taituarā, to see how it impacted its Health and Safety settings with regards to further COVID-19 mitigation measures and controls for council facilities.
“There were two key factors that drove our thinking” says Upper Hutt City Council’s Chief Executive, Peter Kelly.
“The accessibility and equity considerations for all of the community, and the vaccination coverage within our community and the rest of the region.
“Our pool, libraries and customer services functions at the Council building are public facilities, it’s important to us that we continue to allow access for everyone in Upper Hutt,” he said.
Whirinaki Whare Taonga is the exception to Council’s decision. They will require all visitors to be fully vaccinated – excluding under 12s who can’t currently be vaccinated, and those with exemptions, Mr Kelly said.
“Whirinaki is a multi-purpose public facility that includes five galleries, a 200-seat theatre, a large recreation hall with supporting event spaces, the Upper Hutt i-SITE Visitor Centre and Dough Bakery, with open access between the various spaces” says Community Services Director, Mike Ryan.
“Under the COVID-19 Protection Framework, vaccine passes are required for the centre to continue to operate across all its functions,” says Mr Ryan.
Council Chambers remain closed to the public, with public forum for the December council meeting being held via Zoom and live streamed on Facebook. However, the Council does plan to offer physical public attendance again in the New Year, it said in a statement.
Other public spaces like the city’s parks and playgrounds will have no vaccine pass requirements but the Council is encouraging its residents and visitors to follow public health guidelines. Sporting and club events will follow the guidelines put in place by organisers like Sport New Zealand.
Council says it will review access requirements on 17 December, with another review also planned for January.
“It’s good to see high levels of vaccination being reported by the Hutt Valley District Health Board,” Mr Kelly says.
“However it’s still important to keep following the public health guidelines when you’re visiting any Council facilities – wear a mask, scan or sign in, sanitise your hands, observe physical distancing and only visit if you are feeling well.”