Council to re-consider vaccine pass mandate

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Ashburton District councillors will consider removing the vaccination pass mandate at council facilities when they meet on April 6.

A report is being prepared for the meeting and will make recommendations.

Currently a pass is needed to access the Ashburton library, art gallery, museum, Mt Hutt Memorial Hall, council offices and council chamber.

The My Vaccine Pass requirement applies while the district is at Orange and Red levels of the Covid-19 framework and the pass does not include those 12 years and under.

Council chief executive Hamish Riach has been delegated authority to review, and possibly remove, the need for vaccine passes if the district moves to a Green level.

Councillor Lynette Lovett tabled letters from local members of the Voices for Freedom group at last week’s council meeting.

“These people were keen to address councillors but of course they can’t because they are not allowed in the offices because they are unvaccinated,” Mrs Lovett said.

She said the letters from the anti-mandate group urged council to drop the current My Vaccine Pass requirements immediately.

The Omicron variant was proving to have a mild affect on most people and both vaccinated and unvaccinated were getting it, Mrs Lovett said.

Vaccine mandates were past their usefulness, she said.

Councillor John Falloon seconded councillor Lovett’s proposal to have council staff produce a report looking at the mandates with a view to possibly doing away with them.

“Mandates have had their day as far as I’m concerned.

“Omicron is like the flu and in two months time we’ll be walking around without masks on anyway.”

He said the decision to mandate facilities had been done by council and it was a local government issue and could be changed now.

Fonterra had done away with its mandates and other councils as well, Mr Falloon said.

Councillors Stuart Wilson and Leen Braam were happier to wait to see what the Government comes up with over the next few weeks.

“It’s waste of space getting a report done at this stage,” Mr Braam said.

-By Mick Jensen