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COVID-19 Sector Update

23 August 2021

Kia ora koutou,

In today’s Sector Update:

  • The extension to COVID-19 Alert Level 4
  • Guidelines around mandatory record keeping
  • Maintenance of turf and biological assets
  • Further updates to be provided in Alert Level 3
  • Vaccination guidelines for staff and/or volunteers
  • Class 4 funding update
  • Good luck to the NZ Paralympics Team

Today’s news

I’m sure you were all glued to the screen, as we were, to understand ‘what next’ for Aotearoa in lockdown. As we now know, we are looking at an extension of Alert Level 4 for all of Aotearoa until 11.59pm Friday August 27 with Auckland extended until 11.59pm Tuesday, when the situation will be reviewed.

This represents more uncertainty and disruption and we empathise fully with those having to make difficult but courageous decisions to cancel gatherings and events, and delay activities and projects.

We know from past research that tamariki and rangatahi are particularly affected at these times. For the second year in a row, COVID-19 has now meant the cancellation of the annual AIMS Games for intermediate-aged rangatahi. Some 85 national events that comprise the annual Secondary School Winter Tournament Week scheduled for 28 August to 5 September have also been cancelled. Sport NZ is aware of the far-reaching impacts of extended delays and is working to understand what support is required and needed by the sector and in re-starting sport and recreation in due course.   

Key restrictions affecting play, recreation and sport:

  • Stay home where possible except for essential services and to exercise.
  • Wear a mask when visiting essential services and where you cannot socially distance. You do not need to wear a mask when exercising eg: running and cycling but you should keep 2m from anyone outside your bubble.
  • Keep physical activity local. You may drive a short distance for recreation if you cannot do so near your home but keep this drive as short as possible.
  • It will soon be mandatory to keep records so the Government can contact trace quickly; more on this below.

Mandatory recordkeeping

On 22 August, the Government announced that mandatory recordkeeping is being introduced for busy places and events to ensure the Government can contact trace quickly. 

This means those responsible for businesses and events will need to ensure people keep a record when they visit, either by scanning QR codes with the COVID-19 Tracer App or making a manual record.  Those places where records are already kept and people are already required to sign in, like gyms and some workplaces, won’t need to adjust what they are already doing.

This requirement will come into effect 7 days after the next Alert Level change.  This will provide businesses and other locations time to ensure they have record keeping systems and processes in place.  Businesses and facilities will be responsible for having systems and processes in place to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, that customers or visitors make a record. 

Guidance from government is being developed to support businesses to comply with the new requirements – this can be found here.

Maintenance of Turf and Biological Assets

The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC) have advised that the exemptions previously granted do not apply under the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020.
In April 2020, an exemption was granted by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) for the urgent maintenance of turf and similar biological assets.  This allowed golf courses, bowling greens and large stadia staff under limited and strict circumstances to maintain their turf to prevent long term expensive damage occurring. This is no longer valid.

Sport NZ officials have been engaging with DPMC to progress another exemption.  DPMC advised that the exemption would not be progressed in the first tranche of urgent exemptions. Now that lockdown has been extended we will continue to work on securing an exemption through their process. If necessary, we will escalate the matter to Ministers.

If the current Alert Level 4 lockdown were to extend into September, then it would impact on preparation for summer sports (in particular the preparation of cricket pitches).  We will provide you with further information on the impacts for councils and summer codes if Alert Level 4 lockdowns extend into September.

Further Updates to be Provided in Alert Level 3

Earlier this year, Sport NZ developed with WorkSafe NZ a set of guidance for limited single client professional coaching to take place outdoors under Alert Level 3.  Sport NZ officials will review this guidance alongside WorkSafe NZ and DPMC to make sure it is still appropriate under the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020. 

In 2020, after some negotiation, a number of lower risk sporting activities were also permitted (e.g. Golf or Tennis) under limited circumstances.  Sport NZ officials will continue to work with DPMC to determine whether this will be possible as Aotearoa moves down into Alert Level 3 into the future.  We will provide you with further information on this work as it progresses. 

Vaccination guidelines for staff and/or volunteers

Businesses and organisations cannot require employees or volunteers to be vaccinated against COVID-19. However, you can support employees and volunteers to get their vaccination by assisting them to access it. This could include:

  • Allowing all workers to access vaccination during work hours (when available) for themselves and their dependents, without using annual leave or losing pay.
  • Providing workers with relevant and timely information from the Ministry of Health or District Health Boards about the importance and benefits of vaccination.
  • Facilitating on-site vaccination, if asked to do so by the Ministry of Health or a District Health Board. Vaccines are being administered to workforces at higher risk first. Most businesses will need to wait until vaccines become more broadly available.

Although businesses cannot require existing employees to be vaccinated, in some cases an employer can make getting a COVID-19 vaccination a term of employment for new employees. This could apply to certain work where there is high risk of contracting and transmitting COVID-19 to others (such as border workers, for example). This will be a minority of all work in New Zealand, and it is unlikely that roles in our sector would meet this threshold. 

Please note that this information is intended to provide general assistance to businesses and workers and does not represent legal advice. If you are concerned about a specific situation within your own organisation you may wish to seek independent legal advice.

More useful information on workplace vaccination can be found at Vaccines and the workplace » Employment New Zealand.

Class 4 Funding

Class 4 funding collection ceases under Alert Levels 3 and 4. The capital reserves introduced following the original lockdown will enable societies to remain solvent, with priority given to the payment of society salaries and expenses. Societies will take a prudent approach to funding applicants. This will likely result in a decline in available funding during Alert Levels 3 and 4.

Employee Assistance Services

Employee Assistance Services are available to all sector partners via Vitae.  Vitae can be contacted via phone on 0508 664 981 or via their website here. Vitae offer a free and completely confidential service for people who feel they require some independent and expert support.

Tokyo 2020 Paralympics

Finally, good luck to the NZ Paralympic Team as they prepare to compete in Tokyo. The Opening Ceremony is shaping up to be one to watch. Tune into Duke (Freeview 13 | Sky 23) to see all the action from 11pm on Tuesday 24 August. The NZ Paralympic Team has 66 team members - 29 Para athletes and 37 support staff. New Zealanders are competing in six Para sports: Para athletics, Para cycling, Para canoe, Shooting Para sport, Wheelchair Rugby and Para swimming. 18 of the 29 Para athletes are debutants meaning when they first take to the field of play to compete that they will become Paralympians. We wish all the best of luck.

Contacting Sport NZ

Please contact your Partnerships Manager for further help or support if you have one, otherwise feel free to send COVID-19 related queries to this address, and we’ll respond as soon as possible:

Ngā mihi,
Raelene Castle

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