Employers advised to find 'workarounds' as NZ stays Red

Vaccine mandates, however, are now removed for most workers

Employers advised to find 'workarounds' as NZ stays Red

The Auckland Business Chamber on Monday advised employers to find a workaround as the COVID-19 restriction in New Zealand stays under red.

"We need to accept that the lights are not going to change today so we have to find the safest and most pragmatic workarounds to protect our workplaces, staff, and communities," said chief executive officer Michael Barnett.

The New Zealand government announced on Monday that it will stay under Red amid the spread of the Omicron variant.

"Red means wearing a face mask in most indoor settings, limiting indoor capacity to 200, and if you catch COVID-19 – or someone you live with does – isolating for seven days," explained COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins.

On the decision, he said that while hospitalisations dropped in Auckland, it has plateaued in regions like Canterbury, Waikato, and Northland.

"As a result, the public health advice is that it is not yet the time to ease the existing restrictions and drop down to Orange. Ministers will review these settings again next week."

Read more: Auckland Business Chamber slams 'unfairness' between big firms, SMEs

However, despite the restrictions staying under red, the government said it will push through with the ditching of the My Vaccine Pass, which New Zealanders use as proof of vaccination status in the country.

"This was an extremely useful tool while we were getting the country vaccinated and in our fight against Delta, but with around 95% of the eligible adult population at least double dosed, we no longer need this," said Hipkins.

"Businesses will still be able to use the system if they choose to but from tonight, it's not required," he added.

Vaccine mandates for all sectors are also removed starting tonight, except for health and care workers, prison staff, and border workers.

On this, Barnett said the removal of the mandates will instil confidence in employees to return to offices.

"Private enterprise would follow suit too if their workers who are household contacts and not on the critical jobs list were allowed to be at work if they tested negative each day," Barnett said.

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