The Government has introduced the new requirement under the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Vaccinations) Order 2021.
Joint Head of Managed Isolation and Quarantine, Brigadier Jim Bliss, says this is a big milestone in New Zealand’s vaccination programme.
“This is the largest immunisation programme ever undertaken in this country and MIQ and border workers were first in line. They are among the people most at risk of exposure and I’m really proud so many of them have stepped up and led the way for the country.
“The COVID-19 vaccination programme roll-out started on 20 February when MIQ workers at the Jet Park facility in Auckland were the first people to be offered the vaccination. We’ve come a really long way in such a short time”, he says.
“As of today 95% of MIQ workers have been vaccinated. We always expected there would be a small percentage who wouldn’t.
“On any given day we have around 4,500 people working in our 32 MIQ facilities from over 300 different employers. Anyone not vaccinated, in order to meet the border order requirement, will be redeployed by their employer. These are individual employment discussions for employers to have with their employees. We have supported them with assistance from the Ministry for Social Development to explore other employment options.
“To keep workers protected and our communities safe from transmission, all public and private MIQ workers, contractors and visitors (permanent and occasional) will, from 1 May, have to provide proof of vaccination each time they enter a facility.
“Border and MIQ staff have now supported more than 134,000 people to safely cross the border to life in New Zealand. Having a vaccinated MIQ workforce will provide a critical additional line of defence to keep them, their whānau and our communities safe and well, and help prevent COVID-19 from spreading into our communities. It’s an extra layer to help protect all New Zealanders against COVID-19.”
Christine Stevenson, Chair of the Border Executive Board and Chief Executive of the New Zealand Customs Service, says the new requirements will also apply to workers employed by government agencies at the border who interact with international arriving air passengers (not including quarantine free travel) and crew or ship’s crew, or who spend more than 15 minutes in an enclosed space on board ships.
“Government border agencies will have a duty to ensure that only people who have been vaccinated are permitted to carry out work, or other activities, at our international airports and ports”, she says.
“Our border workers across government and MIQ have done a remarkable selfless job in keeping our country safe from COVID-19.
“Being fully vaccinated gives an even greater level of protection to these workers, their families and the community.”
Initially, current workers will be considered vaccinated if they have had one dose of the vaccine. All current workers must have had two doses of the vaccine by 5 June 2021.
New workers covered by the Order will need to have their first dose before starting work, and then have 35 days from starting work to receive their second dose.