Tasman District Council announces vaccine mandate

Employees will need to be fully vaccinated by March 25

Tasman District Council announces vaccine mandate

After the "red" light settings have been activated across New Zealand, the Tasman District Council announced that it will also implement its COVID-19 mandatory vaccine policy. The policy, which was finalised as early as December 2021, states that all employees should get vaccinated against COVID-19 if the country is again placed under the "red" restrictions.

"While we hoped at the time that we might not need to activate the requirement, the emergence of the highly-transmissible Omicron variant of Covid-19 in our region has elevated the risk to our staff and community," said chief executive Janine Dowding.

Under the policy, all employees should get fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by March 25, 2022. Starting February 1, those who are not vaccinated will need to work from home until they can show proof that they received the jabs. Employees have until before March 4 to present proof of first vaccination, according to the council's announcement.

"As a Council we have an obligation under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2012 to provide a work environment that limits risks to health and safety, so far as is reasonably practicable," said Dowding.

Read more: Deadline day: Christchurch City Council's vaccine mandate set

"While community transmission of Omicron is very difficult to prevent, we know that slowing transmission down will mean that the demands on the health system and the disruption of workforce absences can be better managed.”

Dowding expressed confidence that majority of the district council's employees are already fully vaccinated against COVID-19, but the official was unable to provide exact numbers. She is also not expecting any significant disruptions to the operations once the mandate takes effect, though the official said some offices may need to "offer reduced hours to accommodate staff absences." Those who remain hesitant on getting the jabs will also receive support, according to the chief executive, vowing to allot time to discuss their options.

Currently, Tasman District Council employees who are able to work remotely are encouraged to work from home, with Council meetings held over Zoom as the district remains under the "red" settings. New Zealand has been placed under "red" settings following an outbreak of Omicron cases inside the country's borders. It is currently on the stamping out phase of its three-step Omicron response.

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