Invercargill councillors introduce vaccine mandate at some council facilities

Invercargill City councillors have decided people visiting some of its facilities will be required to show proof of their Covid-19 vaccination.

WARWICK SMITH/Stuff

Invercargill City councillors have decided people visiting some of its facilities will be required to show proof of their Covid-19 vaccination.

Vaccine passports will need to be shown at the Invercargill City Council’s library and pool after councillors spent three hours debating the topic on Tuesday.

The passports will also need to be shown at He Waka Tuia museum and the council chambers starting from December 13.

Vaccine passports will not be needed on the ground floor of the council’s civic administration building in Esk St or at the Bluff Service Centre.

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Before the extraordinary meeting started, two people spoke against the council introducing mandates.

One was mid-Canterbury GP Sophie Febery, who has already expressed her personal concerns over the vaccination. She said New Zealand was living in fear of Covid-19 when it shouldn’t be.

The other submitter was nurse Nicky Harrison, who told councillors that if they chose to turn unvaccinated people away from the library it would inhibit the education of a group of young people, and that would be felt for years to come.

She also said restricting people from the pool would have a big impact on children and adults’ ability to learn to swim.

“In a country surrounded by beaches and rivers, it is imperative everyone is safe in and around water.”

During the debate on mandates, councillor Nigel Skelt wanted the vaccine requirement to be introduced across all council facilities rather than just some.

Selecting some and not others created more confusion in an already confusing world, he said.

Skelt, who is also the general manager of ILT Stadium Southland, said the Government’s communication throughout the pandemic had been appalling, and he asked the council to be clear with the public about what it was doing.

“It’s been appalling from an information and communication point of view. [The Government] couldn’t run a hot bath on this particular issue. We need some consistency,” he said.

“My plea is that this council shows some leadership and all of our venues are [restricted to the] double-vaxed.”

Councillor Ian Pottinger was the sole opponent of the vaccine passport system. He questioned staff as to why the council should be so confident in taking guidance from the Government on the matter.

He referred to the Three Waters reform as his reason for not having confidence in the Government’s guidance.

“We have just done the Three Waters thing, and it was a disaster,” he said.

He did not think the council needed to go about asking for vaccine confirmation from people wanting to enter the Splash Palace pool and the city’s library.

However, all other councillors voted in favour of introducing the vaccination requirement at those two venues.

The extraordinary meeting was held after council chief executive Clare Hadley announced last week that the public would not be required to show vaccine passports at the majority of its facilities.

Hadley had said the council’s risk and assurance committee would revisit the matter at its December 16 meeting.

However, councillors expressed some unease about waiting that long, which prompted Tuesday’s meeting.

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