Kia ora koutou,
We hope everyone is continuing to enjoy the summer period and, within the framework of the Red setting we now find ourselves in, making the most of the long weekends with whānau and friends.
The Government has released their three-phase plan for dealing with Omicron and we are currently in Phase One. It is important in this phase that as many people as possible get their booster vaccine, continue to scan in wherever they go and maintain high hygiene standards. It is also important to be putting plans in place in case you or someone you live with has to self-isolate.
More information about planning for self-isolation can be found on the Unite Against COVID-19 website here.
There has been a new border announcement and several changes to the COVID-19 Protection Framework since our last update which we have outlined below. Our existing guidance in the CPF section of the Sport NZ website has been updated to reflect these changes.
Reconnecting New Zealand
The Government has announced the border will reopen in 5 steps, from 27 February:
- Step 1 fully vaccinated Kiwis and other eligible travellers from Australia can travel to New Zealand from 11:59pm Sunday 27 February, and instead of going into MIQ will be able to self-isolate
- Step 2 from 11:59pm on Sunday 13 March, fully vaccinated New Zealanders and other eligible travellers from the rest of the work can also travel without going through MIQ
- There will also be an expanded border exception for critical workers, skilled workers earning at least 1.5x the median wage, and highly skilled workers family members. Travellers with Working Holiday Schemes will also be able to enter
- Step 3 begins 11:59pm on Tuesday 12 April further extending border exemptions to include up to 5,000 international students ahead of semester two. It also allows those holding valid temporary visas to enter
- Step 4 includes Australians and all other visitors who can normally enter New Zealand without a visa. This stage will begin no later than July 2022. There is a likelihood of this date coming forward
- The Accredited Employers Work Visa will open including for workers offshore, and the critical worker border exception will be phased out
- Step 5 begins in October 2022 and includes other visitors and students who require a visa to enter New Zealand, with normal visa processing resuming
What the border announcements will mean for teams and athletes
Vaccinated New Zealand athletes and teams will no longer need to enter MIQ (or secure a booking). This applies from 28 February 2022 for those returning from Australia or 13 March 2022 returning from elsewhere.
If you still require MIQ in early March, then please let us know by 7 February 2022 in order to secure a space via the Sport NZ allocation. More information on this process can be found here.
Although the announcements are great for returning kiwis, border settings means it is still challenging to host international teams. We hope to provide more information soon on a process for self-isolating international teams that meet set criteria. Please note that there will be a high threshold similar to the group MIQ process. We will communicate more on this once confirmed.
New face mask requirements
From 11.59pm, Thursday 3 February, in the Red setting, alternative face coverings such as bandannas, scarves and t-shirts are no longer allowed to be used instead of a face mask.
For workers covered by the Vaccination Order, when carrying out customer facing work you are also required to wear a medical grade mask. These are often the popular blue masks you see medical staff wearing as well as N95 masks. This includes Event workers and Gym workers.
People are also now required to wear a mask when attending a Gathering and Event, but do not need to wear a mask when exercising, eating or drinking. This means we must once again remember to wear masks before and after sports games, including while spectating. If your Gathering has exclusive use of the venue, then you do not need to wear face masks. For further examples and clarification around the new face mask requirements, see our guidance here.
Events at Red
There are significant barriers for many sports to running Events at Red and we appreciate this can be difficult. At Red, you may have up to 100 people per defined space at your Event. This means you can have more than one group of up to 100 people (so long as there is 1m2 of space per person) as long as you are able to adhere to the defined space requirements. More information about what a defined space is (both indoor and outdoor) are on our website.
As part of regular health and safety planning, it is still important to consider whether it is safe to bring people together in this way. If you do run an Event with multiple groups of 100 then these groups must stay the same for the entire duration of the Event, including for multi-day events. This reduces the chances of all people becoming contacts if someone tests positive for COVID-19 during or after the Event.
- More information about planning for Events at Red is on our website here.
- Advice from the Ministry of Health here can help on how to plan if your event becomes a location of interest. We will have more FAQs available on this soon.
- Information from WorkSafe about operating your Event as safely as possible is available here.
With the return of schools, we understand people are seeking clarity around what can and cannot occur in the school environment. Sport NZ is providing guidance on non-curriculum based school sport while the Ministry of Education will advise on curriculum based sport. We are aware that our current guidance is inconsistent with the Ministry of Education’s in some areas. We are working closely with the Ministry to resolve these areas and will have amended guidance available soon.
- Our Guidance for school sport and recreation which can be found here.
- Information to assist with deciding whether or not your activity is a Gathering or Event can be found here.
Education Outside the Classroom (EOTC)
Education Outside the Classroom providers (EOTC) are now also able to provide curriculum based activities to schools without requiring all children to be vaccinated. To do this, EOTC providers must meet a range of requirements. These include working with a registered school to deliver curriculum related activities, being able to provide the service in a defined space and all staff involved must be vaccinated.
- EOTC guidance from the Ministry of Education can be found here.
Other guidance updates
Vaccinations for 5-11 year olds are now available. Children aged 5-11 are not required to have a My Vaccine Pass (nor can they get one). They are to be treated in all places as if they have a vaccine pass and do count towards the capacity limits of an Event or Gathering.
From Friday 4 February, the 4-month waiting period for booster vaccines has been reduced to 3 months following the second dose. Workers covered by the Vaccinations Order are required to have their booster vaccine to have a valid My Vaccine Pass. More information is yet to be released about how boosters will affect My Vaccine Passes for everyone else.
We are continuing to update our FAQs and setting guidance on the Sport NZ website so please continue to refer to these resources.
As always, reach out if you have any questions by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you again for your continued work in this space to keep sport and recreation happening for all New Zealanders.