WelCom November 2021
On 22 October 2021, the Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, announced a plan ‘to help all New Zealanders stay safe’ from Covid-19 into the future.
Similar to the current Alert Level system, a new framework will be introduced that will have three settings – green, orange and red.
Under the new Covid-management system, places of worship may legally choose to implement a vaccination entry requirement for congregants. Whether they do or do not has different consequences.
Vaccine certificates will also apply to clergy.
The Government’s three-tier ‘traffic light’ framework will come into effect once 90 per cent of the eligible population has received both doses of the vaccine.
Churches using vaccine certificates
Places of worship will be open at green level for vaccinated people. There will be no limits if vaccination certificates are used.
During the orange level, there will be no limits on attendance if vaccination certificates are used.
Limited numbers of vaccinated people will be allowed to attend places of worship during the red level. They may open for up to 100 people, based on one-metre social distancing.
Churches without vaccine certificates
If a place of worship does not wish to request proof of vaccine, they have to operate with strict limits on capacity and space requirements. They may need to close in orange and/or red levels, Ardern says.
If a place of worship does not request proof of vaccine, restrictions will apply. At green level gatherings will be restricted to up to 100 people, based on one metre physical distancing.
At orange level, places of worship must keep to a 50-person limit, based on one-metre physical distancing.
At the red level, places of worship that do not request proof of vaccine will be restricted up to 10 people, with one-metre physical distancing.
The Prime Minister said the framework is more flexible than the current Alert Level system.
‘We know that businesses that only open to vaccinated customers pose a lower risk. We can move up levels when needed to control an outbreak,’ she said.
The Prime Minister said the vaccine used in New Zealand is safe and effective.
‘If you are vaccinated it means that you are less likely to catch the virus, and much less likely to end up in hospital if you do.’
The more people who are vaccinated, the harder it is for Covid to spread through communities quickly, and find our most vulnerable, she said.
Covid protection framework: covid19.govt.nz/alert-levels-and-updates/covid-19-protection/
Sources: CathNews; New Zealand Government – covid19.govt.nz