Covid-19: DOC makes vaccines mandatory for huts, campsites

The Department of Conservation (DOC) says it will only welcome fully vaccinated visitors to its huts and campsites this summer.

The requirement will be in place for those aged 12 years, three months and over from December 15, DOC heritage and visitors director Steve Taylor confirmed.

”DOC’s accommodation is often remote, off the grid and brings people together from all locations,” he said.

DOC has introduced a vaccine policy for its accommodation (Holly Hut on Taranaki’s Pouakai Circuit pictured).

DOC/Stuff

DOC has introduced a vaccine policy for its accommodation (Holly Hut on Taranaki’s Pouakai Circuit pictured).

“Vaccination provides a higher level of protection and significantly reduces the risk of infection spreading and people suffering serious illness.”

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Visitors would be required to confirm their vaccination status when booking. This would be checked by hut wardens and camp hosts on site, with spot checks for more remote huts and smaller campsites that weren’t bookable.

“Where practical we will be turning away those without a Covid-19 vaccine certificate and where appropriate, taking safety measures to isolate them from other hut and campsite users,” Taylor said.

There will be spot checks of vaccine status at more remote huts.

Supplied

There will be spot checks of vaccine status at more remote huts.

If there were problems with non-compliance, DOC would assess whether facilities needed to be closed.

Those who were not fully vaccinated would still be able to use tracks and most toilets, but would not be able to use hut facilities or campgrounds.

Taylor said they would be contacting people ahead of their bookings advising them they needed to be fully vaccinated or their booking would need to be cancelled. Full refunds would be available.

DOC was also this week consulting on a health and safety requirement that all staff, contractors and volunteers must be vaccinated to work in or visit DOC workplaces, including visitor centres.

A vaccination policy for staff would be finalised in the next fortnight, Taylor said.

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