More secondary school students will be allowed back as Covid restrictions ease, but as Mount Albert Grammar School headmaster Patrick Drumm says not all schools will be racing kids back into the classroom. Video / NZ Herald
The Government is today launching vaccination passes, signalling a summer of freedom under the new traffic light system and even travel in the near future for the fully vaccinated.
The My Vaccine Pass will be an official record of Covid-19 vaccination status, allowing access to things like concerts, festivals, gyms and sports events, as per the new Covid-19 Protection Framework.
From today fully vaccinated people – and the small number with medical exemptions – can request a pass, along with versions to be used internationally.
The pass announcement comes ahead of another big Government decision today, outlining expected changes to Auckland’s boundaries and how inter-regional travel will work as the city edges closer to 90 pent of its eligible population being fully vaccinated.
The passes will be used under the new framework – also known as the traffic light system for the green, orange and red settings – set to kick in once each DHB has reached 90 per cent full vaccination rates, although the Prime Minister has indicated this could happen soon after a Cabinet meeting on November 29, regardless of the vaccination rates.
Across New Zealand, 90 per cent of those aged over 12 have received one dose and 81 per cent two doses (3.4 million people) of the Pfizer vaccine.
The passes will also be able to be used in workplaces that require them under the new framework.
Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said the pass would become part of a daily routine, like carrying a driver’s licence, scanning in at the supermarket or wearing a mask.
“We’re asking fully vaccinated New Zealanders to get ready for summer by requesting their pass,” Hipkins said.
“It is your official proof of vaccination and a ticket to enjoy the extra freedoms that will come with the Covid-19 Protection Framework.”
The National Party has been critical of how long it has taken to have the passes ready.
In the House yesterday, Covid-19 spokesman Chris Bishop revealed that a contract for the development of the vaccination pass was only signed by the Government a month ago, on October 13.
Bishop said if certificates were in place right now, Aucklanders could leave, hospitality open and people go back to work, and summer events wouldn’t be being cancelled.
Hipkins said work began on other aspects of the process in April and the tender process itself in July.
The fact the certificates were not – as of Tuesday – available to download was not a factor in the current situation in Auckland, Hipkins said.
Under the new framework people will need their vaccine passes in a range of public settings such as events, hospitality, retail, community, sport, and faith-based gatherings.
The pass can be downloaded to a phone digitally or printed out. They will be valid for six months.
People with vaccinations from overseas can also apply, though this could take up to 14 days. People can also apply for international passes from today.
A spokeswoman for the Delegation of the European Union (EU) to New Zealand said these certificates would be accepted under the same conditions as EU certificates.
New Zealand has also agreed to accept the EU certificates here.
On Tuesday a record 222 Covid-19 cases were reported, with 91 people in hospital including seven in ICU or HDU. The ministry also reported a patient in their late 70s at Auckland City Hospital with Covid-19 had died.
Active cases are now in Auckland, Northland, Waikato, Lakes district, Taranaki, Mid Central, Wairarapa and Canterbury.
The case numbers took the rolling seven-day daily average to 187, roughly in line with Government modelling.
Based on that modelling case numbers in the current outbreak are expected to peak in the next two weeks at an average of 200 a day.
The current hospitalisation figures are also in line with modelling, but with fewer people needing ICU than the 15 modelled.
Today Waikato shifts from level 3 to 2, a move that has received mixed views.
Hamilton Mayor Paula Southgate said the move was good news, but was mindful it could be temporary with still-rising case numbers.
Māori Covid-19 analyst Dr Rawiri Taonui said moving Waikato to alert level 2 while there were still very low Māori vaccination rates in mid-central, Lakes and Taranaki district health board regions, was “not wise”.
Ōtorohanga mayor Max Baxter said he was “just a bit nervous” about the move, given the relatively low vaccination rates.
Tens of thousands of Auckland school students are also heading back to the classroom today, after vaccine mandates came into force for the education sector on Monday, alongside those for the health sector.
Workers in both sectors need to fully vaccinated by January 1.
Q & A
How do I get My Vaccine Pass?
People who are fully vaccinated can sign up at My Covid Record or call or call 0800 222 478.
The “My Vaccine Pass” will include a person’s name, date of birth and a QR code. This can be saved on a digital device, like a phone, or printed as a physical copy.
Where will it be needed?
Under the Covid Protection Framework people will be required to show a My Vaccine Pass as proof of vaccination status in a range of public settings such as events, hospitality, retail, community, sport, and faith-based gatherings.
This is to reduce the risk of spreading the virus and to protect vulnerable populations.
These are not required to access supermarkets, pharmacies, all health and disability services, food banks or petrol stations. Proof of vaccination is also not required in education settings, on all public transport (other than air travel), accessing housing and housing support services under state sector agencies.
Children under the age of 12 are not required to show proof of vaccination.
People can request international vaccine passes now. These are currently recognised by the EU, with more countries expected to follow.
It’s anticipated that the need for proof of a vaccine certification when travelling internationally will be in place for years to come.