The government is still working on what ‘mandatory’ will actually mean when it comes to implementing vaccine certificates next month.
Attorneys suggest that certificates could face a legal challenge for violating a person’s human rights, but employers also have an obligation to protect their staff and patrons.
According to sources who have been working on vaccine certificates, there are three possibilities of how they will be legally enforced.
A person who wants to access an event, or possibly a restaurant, bar or other business, could be liable if they do not present a vaccination certificate.
They could face a fine, for example, if they don’t prove their vaccination status.
A second option is to hold event organizers or companies accountable if they don’t scan health passes, just as companies are liable if they sell alcohol to someone underage.
The event manager, owner or organizer could be fined.
The third option is that event organizers or businesses should only have the ability to scan a vaccine certificate, but will not be required to scan passes.
This is the current situation with ‘mandatory’ scanning rules, where a company is not penalized if a user does not scan.
They also have no obligation to refuse the person’s service.
Michael Dreyer, who leads vaccine certification work at the Health Ministry, said RNZ officials were still working on what the mandatory vaccine certificates will actually mean, a month after their release.
“We are consulting with the business, hospitality and event sectors on the finer details of how the vaccine certificate can work in the field,” said Dreyer.
“We are still working on policy settings for exactly what types of events a proof of vaccination will be required.”
The reason it was a legally cloudy area was because the vaccination certificates would constitute a violation of a person’s human rights.
In the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act, people cannot be discriminated against because of their health status.
A mandatory vaccination certificate to access events or businesses would do exactly that.
It helped explain why the government was not considering implementing health passes in places like supermarkets, health centers, or churches.
People have a basic human right to use such facilities.
However, other laws that we have also violate human rights, but are considered to be for the greater good.
An example is breathalyzer tests carried out by the police.
Technically, violating your human rights being forced by the police to blow into a tube and show your alcohol on your breath.
But by doing so, the police can crack down on drunk drivers and reduce the number of serious accidents and fatalities on the road.
There will be a similar argument for vaccine certificates.
Employers also have an obligation to keep staff and clients safe from a health and safety perspective, and excluding people who are not vaccinated could fall within that scope.