Vaccine pass needed at some council-run facilities

The Ashburton Public Library is one council venue where a My Vaccine Pass is needed.

Anyone accessing the Ashburton library, art gallery and museum, and Mt Hutt Memorial Hall now needs to show a My Vaccine Pass and from January 5 a pass is needed to enter the Ashburton District Council offices and council chamber.

Ashburton District councillors debated and made the decision at the final council meeting of the year last week, but not all were in favour of introducing the pass requirement.

The My Vaccine Pass requirement will apply 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 move to a Green level.

Ashburton District mayor Neil Brown said introducing My Vaccine Pass was a difficult decision, but one that needed to be made.

He was not in support of the motion and believed it was up to individuals to keep themselves safe.

‘‘If you go to schools, doctors and the Police you don’t need to be vaccinated, but they do.
‘‘I think a penalty of losing your job because you are not vaccinated is very harsh and I don’t agree with that.’’

Mr Brown said he did agree with keeping the public safe, but a vaccine pass could also be fraught with issues.

His sentiments were shared by councillor Angus McKay, who said ‘‘vaccinated and non-vaccinated people have the same right to use all public services’’.

‘‘We should not be creating a diversive community, but embracing everyone.’’

Others voting against introducing the vaccine pass were councillors Carolyn Cameron and Lynette Lovett.

Mrs Lovett said she did not like the division that resulted through mandating.

Severe measures disadvantaged people and were wrong when 95 per cent of the district had already received the first dose of the vaccine.

Speaking in favour of the vaccine pass councillor Stuart Wilson said because the vast majority in the district were vaxxed, the decision was right and what the majority wanted.

Councillor John Falloon said vaccine passes did restrict freedoms, but also protected the rest of society from those who decided not to get vaccinated for whatever reason.

Councillors voted unanimously not to introduce a vaccine pass at the Ashburton Domain office and yard, camping grounds at Rangitata, Hakatere and Mt Somers, resource recovery parks and transfer stations, other community and memorial halls, outdoor community swimming pools on council land, parks and reserves, cemeteries, playgrounds, public toilets, unstaffed camping grounds, the Ashburton Airport, and for Elderly Persons

Clubs operating members-only clubrooms or facilities on council land will also have the discretion to introduce My Vaccine Pass or not.

Council has consulted with its staff across all facilities and functions in relation to mandatory vaccinations and a process is being worked through.

-By Mick Jensen