Saturday, November 27

Covid-19 Today: New Vaccine Mandate, Student Return, and Spread Concern

The government has announced new vaccine mandates for workers across the country, as 79 new cases of Covid-19 were announced today and Auckland’s high school students finally returned to the classroom.

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Photo: RNZ / Marika Khabazi / Pool Mark Mitchell / Supplied

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced at today’s post-cabinet press conference at 4 p.m. that vaccination will be mandatory at any workplace that requires a vaccination certificate to enter.

The government had already ordered the vaccination of people who work on the border and in the health and education sectors.

“If clients need to be vaccinated, so should workers,” Ardern said.

“When this takes effect will depend on when we move to the Covid-19 protection framework.”

Labor Relations and Safety Minister Michael Wood said the decision to require vaccinations was not taken lightly.

“It’s about how we live together, it’s about the collective rights that people and workers in our society have to be safe and feel safe when they are at work or when they come to the workplace.”

Meanwhile, on the first day after the Labor Day holiday weekend, 79 new cases were announced today, 75 in Auckland and four in Waikato.

Of these cases, 46 are linked, including 24 domestic contacts, and 33 remain unrelated.

The ministry said Auckland public health officials continue to urge residents of the North Shore suburbs of Redvale and Rosedale to get tested as soon as possible if they have mild Covid-19 symptoms, even if they have been vaccinated.

“This follows high positivity rates of more than 6 percent in Redvale and 3.8 percent in Rosedale.”

Broad mandate of new vaccines

Here’s what that vaccine mandate will entail in detail:

  • Vaccination will be required for all workers in companies where clients must show Covid-19 Vaccination Certificates, such as hospitality and close contact companies.
  • New law to introduce a clearer and simplified risk assessment process for employers to follow when deciding whether to require vaccination for different types of work
  • Unvaccinated workers in roles requiring vaccination will receive a further four-week notice period to be vaccinated before employment can be terminated.
  • Employers must provide paid time off for workers to be vaccinated and must keep records of workers’ vaccination status.

Minister Wood said a new four-week notice period will apply to obligated employees who refuse to be vaccinated if their employment is terminated.

“Our change in the law will require a paid notice a minimum of four weeks in advance for any employee who loses his job because he is not vaccinated,” he said.

Current vaccination mandate orders covered 15 percent of the workforce, Wood said.

“Our estimate is that the workplaces covered by the Covid vaccine certificates are potentially around 25 percent of the workforce,” he said.

“So that would bring it to about 40 percent overall, considering other workplaces would still have access to the simplified risk management framework.”

Judith Collins

Judith Collins
Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

Before vaccination mandates were announced this afternoon, National Party leader Judith Collins spoke out against creating a “two-class system” by bringing vaccine certificates, but also said she wants to bring vaccination certificates.

She said the government is blaming specific groups for not getting vaccinated, and New Zealanders must be sure of an eventual end to the restrictions.

Collins spoke about the impacts of ongoing restrictions on businesses, families, and the whānau.

“I spoke on Friday about the many people who have contacted me and that has now increased exponentially. It is frankly heartbreaking to hear so much suffering and anguish happening here in New Zealand.”

Nationwide Concerns for Future Cases

Across the country today, there were no new cases in Northland or the South Island after last week’s case in Blenheim.

Epidemiologist professor Sir David Skegg, head of the government’s Covid-19 Public Health Advisory Group, said the South Island’s first case in more than a year should be a wake-up call.

“It really exasperates me to hear people say, ‘Oh, why are we at alert level 2?’

“The South Island is going to have Covid-19. There is no question about it. It is surprising that it has not yet spread further.

“I’m in Queenstown right now and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if there was someone with Covid-19 here.”

“This virus is going to appear throughout New Zealand. It will not be a question if the South Island is pure. We are all going to have to face it.”

In the north, iwi called for an alert level 3 in Te Tai Tokerau after the growing number of Delta Covid-19 cases showing up.

There were seven positive cases in Northland over the weekend.

“The Northland group is growing and in four days we have gone from two to seven cases,” said Te Poari or Ngātiwai President Aperahama Kerepeti-Edwards. “These cases are all rural Maori.”

“We recognize that all cases are linked and isolated at home, but given the level of risk, it remains a major concern for our people.”

On the mainland, some experts and ACT party leader David Seymour called for testing requirements before people visited the South Island.

So far there has been no further transmission of the Blenheim case, with three of the person’s contacts testing negative, and the same for the hundreds of community tests conducted over the weekend.

Covid-19 modeler and physicist Dr. Dion O’Neale said that a case in the South Island could spread undetected more easily than in the North.

“At alert level 2, you can do most of the day-to-day things – you can meet a lot of people, and that puts you in an environment where, if someone is highly infectious, it could spread quickly to many people. from the people.”

And in Waikato, where new cases continue to appear daily, there has also been a surge in vaccine stocks after the revelation that a person who later tested positive for the virus spent the night in Tokoroa.

Dr. Helen Fisher, from Te Kuiti Medical Center, said yesterday she saw three times as many people walk-ins for vaccinations.

“We were expecting around 25 and we’ve had between 65 and 70 through the door.”

Te Awamutu has had several cases in the last week, but Waipa Deputy Mayor Liz Stolwyk said the city had taken the Level 3 restrictions seriously and hoped potential bubble breakers would not be tempted over the weekend. long.

“To be honest, the weather wasn’t very good here, so I think it was probably a good thing … we weren’t very envious of people with access to the beach.

“At the moment, people are staying at their base of operations.”

Seniors return to Mount Roskill Grammar School after ten weeks in lockdown.

Seniors return to Mount Roskill Grammar School after ten weeks in lockdown.
Photo: RNZ / Katie Todd

Auckland Seniors Go Back to School

After 10 long weeks of learning at home, Zoom lessons, and separation from friends, the Auckland and Waikato seniors changed into their school uniforms and returned to campus this morning.

There were mixed emotions for many, some filled with joy and others worried.

Year 12 student at Kings College, TJ Rusden Rowley, is fully vaccinated and couldn’t wait to get back to the classroom.

“I checked the news and they said they were sending seniors back and I was so excited. I literally screamed and my dad said ‘what?’ and I said ‘let’s go back to school.’ I was running around the house so happy I can go back. “

But Manurewa High School Year 12 student Selina Silila Helg said she was concerned about the impact the openness could have on Maori and Pasifika.

“The reality is that my people are and will continue to be the most affected by Covid-19. I feel really concerned about my classmates at school, my community in South Auckland and especially my family.”

Ardern, who has been staying in Wellington during the Auckland shutdown, defended that choice today and said he understood the impact the long shutdown was having on the city.

She said she was simply following the rules of Parliament and that visiting Auckland would mean she would have to isolate herself for five days, affecting her ability to play the role of prime minister.

“I have family there, I have friends there, but I also have a duty to run the country and the rules that are in place for this place at the moment mean that it would be difficult for me to visit without staying away from this.” place for a specified period of time. “

Katrina hughes

Photo: Supplied

Changes to MIQ will be announced this week

The Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) changes announced this week will free up the facility to accommodate demand from New Zealanders abroad and the outbreak in the community, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said.

The cabinet discussed the changes today, but no announcement will be made until tomorrow.

Hipkins said the Cabinet was closely monitoring MIQ settings in light of fewer cases and more fully vaccinated travelers crossing international borders, even as community cases from the Delta outbreak increased.

He said changes to MIQ will be announced in the next few days and will be implemented “in a few weeks.”

New Zealanders hoping to return from abroad have had problems with the government’s MIQ reservation system since it was introduced.

But the changes couldn’t come soon enough for some sailor kiwis, with an Auckland woman deciding to sail home across the Pacific.

Katrina Hughes and three other Kiwis are on a 40-foot yacht, making a 2,200-nautical-mile journey from Tahiti to Opua.

Typically a superyacht boss, she spent two years navigating Covid-19 hotspots around the world before deciding to jump ship in the United States earlier this year and make arrangements to return home. But he has not yet been able to get a position at MIQ.

“I thought ‘fuck I’ll try a third time’ … but you have a better chance of winning the damn lottery than at this MIQ position … and the third time I was 18,000 [in line] so I thought ‘this is a joke, this is not working’.

The 16-day trip itself counts as your quarantine period. Upon arrival at Opua, the Kingfisher crew will need to perform a health check, obtain customs clearance, and a Covid-19 test.

Hughes said that not everything would be easy.

“Sometimes it can be absolutely beautiful, but on the other hand, it can also be incredibly brutal. You will definitely get dizzy.”

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