Upper Hutt City council ignores Hipkins’ vax pass request

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Upper Hutt City Council does not require vaccine passes to be shown at most of its public facilities under Jacinda Ardern’s so-called traffic light system (introduced on 3 December), proving the system is a request, not law.

The council says its public facilities such as Upper Hutt Libraries, Council’s Civic Centre and H2O Xtream Aquatic Centre (pictured), with the H2O Xtream Café operating a contactless service only.

Council made the call after working through the advice received from Government, as well as sector specific advice from LGNZ, DIA and Taituarā, to see how it impacted its Health and Safety settings with regards to further COVID-19 mitigation measures and controls for council facilities.

“There were two key factors that drove our thinking,” says Upper Hutt City Council’s Chief Executive, Peter Kelly. “The accessibility and equity considerations for all of the community, and the vaccination coverage within our community and the rest of the region.

“Our pool, libraries and customer services functions at the Council building are public facilities, it’s important to us that we continue to allow access for everyone in Upper Hutt.”

Whirinaki Whare Taonga is the exception to this decision. They will require all visitors to be fully vaccinated – excluding under 12s who can’t currently be vaccinated, and those with exemptions.

“Whirinaki is a multi-purpose public facility that includes five galleries, a 200-seat theatre, a large recreation hall with supporting event spaces, the Upper Hutt i-SITE Visitor Centre and Dough Bakery, with open access between the various spaces” says Community Services Director, Mike Ryan.

“Under the COVID-19 Protection Framework, vaccine passes are required for the centre to continue to operate across all its functions” says Ryan.

Council Chambers remain closed to the public for now, with public forum for the December council meeting being held via Zoom and live streamed on Facebook. However, the Council does plan to offer physical public attendance again in the New Year.

Other public spaces like the city’s parks and playgrounds will have no vaccine pass requirements but the Council is encouraging its residents and visitors to follow public health guidelines. Sporting and club events will follow the guidelines put in place by organisers like Sport New Zealand.

The Council wants to be clear that the decision may change as further information comes to light, or the Government makes more changes. A review will take place on 17 December, with another planned for January.

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