Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Vaccination scheme extends to travel port staff

The Government has moved to further strengthen the border against COVID-19 by making it mandatory for more of the workforce to be vaccinated, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins announced today.

“To prevent the virus getting into our communities, we must continue to strengthen our border by protecting the people who work there,” Mr Hipkins said.

The new COVID-19 Public Health Response (Vaccinations) Amendment Order 2021 will come into effect at 11:59pm on 14 July, 2021.

“As well as workers at Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) facilities, workers at our ports and airports who are at the greatest risk of exposure to COVID-19 must now be vaccinated,” Minister Hipkins said.

“The vaccination of MIQ workers has been successful so far. Latest numbers show there were 4,332 MIQ workers on site for the week ending 4 July, all of whom were vaccinated. No unvaccinated worker can enter an MIQ facility.

“Of the active air border workers, 82% are fully vaccinated and 2% have received a single dose and await their second. 

“However only 54% of active port workers have been fully vaccinated, and we need to see this number increased to avoid the risk of COVID-19 entering the country via our ports.  

“I am extending the mandatory order to cover a further 1800 currently unvaccinated active border workers. This is necessary to lift the uptake of the vaccine among the wider border workforce and strengthen our ongoing response to COVID-19.”

He also encouraged border employers to look at opportunities to make it easy for their workers to get vaccine appointments and to urge employees to get their vaccination.

“It is in their interests to keep COVID-19 out and their businesses open by having a vaccinated workforce,” the Minister said.

The legislation allows for a reasonable window for vaccination. All government employees covered by the order must have had their first dose by 26 August, while privately employed border workers must have had their first dose by 30 September. New workers covered by the Order (regardless of employer) will need to have their first dose before starting work.

“Border workers who remain unvaccinated after the requirements come into effect will need to discuss options with their employer. They will not be able to continue working in a high-risk border environment until they are vaccinated,” Mr Hipkins said.

The expanded Order applies to people working at:

  • MIQFs and MIFs (previously covered);
  • airside area of affected airports and some other higher-risk work at airports;
  • affected ports;
  • accommodation services where specified aircrew members are self-isolating.

It also includes work:

  • that involves handling affected items removed from ships, aircraft or MIQFs or MIFs, AND;
  • where the job is for a company that is routinely engaged to provide services for an aircraft, ship, MIQF or MIF, AND;
  • where the employee ‘has contact with’ people who belong to different groups in the Order.

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