The following Frequently Asked Questions relate to the new COVID-19 Protection Framework. If you have a question not covered here, please direct your query to: firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll get back to you as soon as possible during business days.
Last updated: 19 January, 2022
The COVID-19 Protection Framework and Public Health
What is the COVID-19 Protection Framework?
The COVID-19 Protection Framework (the CPF) is New Zealand’s new way to manage COVID-19 in our community going forward. The CPF provides us with a pathway out of lockdown and gives vaccinated New Zealanders more freedom.
The CPF will allow us to move more freely and live with less disruptions, and will give businesses the stability to plan for the future. The CPF has a traffic light system to manage COVID-19 in the community.
- At Green, COVID-19 is across New Zealand, including sporadic imported cases. Community transmission is limited and COVID-19 hospitalisations will be at a manageable level. The health system will be ready to respond, including primary care, public health, and hospitals.
- At Orange, there is community transmission, with pressure on our health system. The whole of health system is focussing its resources, but can manage primary care, public health, and hospitals. There may also be an increasing risk for at-risk people.
- At Red, action is needed to protect at-risk people and protect our health system from an unsustainable number of hospitalisations.
Localised restrictions and closures may still be used as part of the public health response, which may include wider lockdowns (similar to the measures in Alert Levels 3 or 4).
We know that sport and recreation are extremely important for our physical and mental well-being. The intention of the CPF is to allow as much sport and recreation to take place as safely possible going forward.
Where can I find information about the sport and recreational activities that are permitted at the different traffic light settings?
Sport NZ has specific guidance for sport and recreation activities for the Green, Orange and Red settings. You can find our comprehensive guidance for each setting here.
If the guidance does not answer your questions, then send an email to email@example.com and we will respond to your query and update the guidance.
I want to move from one traffic light setting to another to play sport or do recreation. Is this possible?
You must follow the rules for the setting you are currently in. If there are no regional restrictions and you can move into another region, then you must follow the rules of the new region you go to. For example, if you are in an Orange setting but move to a Red setting, then you must follow the Red rules while in that location.
Do we still need to wear face masks?
You are not required to wear a face covering when you are playing sport or engaging in recreational activities. The requirements for face coverings depend on the traffic light setting:
- At Green, face coverings are encouraged whenever you are indoors.
- At Orange, face coverings are mandatory in retail settings and public facilities, but not swimming pools. Face coverings are encouraged at all other locations.
- At Red, face coverings are mandatory in retail settings and public facilities, but not swimming pools. Face coverings are recommended encouraged whenever you leave the house. This includes before and after playing sport or engaging in a recreational activity.
You may wish to wear a mask as a coach when training your athletes, particularly if you are indoors.
What is Omicron?
Omicron is a variant of the COVID-19 virus which was first identified in mid-November 2021. Early evidence shows that it is more transmissible than previous variants such as Delta, however research is ongoing and there is still much to learn.
Due to the ongoing and unknown nature of Omicron, the government may need to adapt our approach to adequately protect public health. Sport New Zealand will provide guidance about any changes if required, but in the meantime, more information about Omicron can be found on the Ministry of Health’s website here.
Can we share sports equipment now?
Yes, the old rules about not sharing sports equipment have changed since we moved into the COVID-19 Protection Framework. Sports equipment can now be shared, but if you allow equipment to be used by vaccinated and unvaccinated groups in separate gatherings, you will need to consider your cleaning requirements when swapping between groups.
Vaccination and My Vaccine Passes
What are COVID vaccine passes?
My Vaccine Pass (MVP) is a key tool in the COVID-19 Protection Framework. You can access your My Vaccine Pass, which is an official record of your vaccination status for use in Aotearoa New Zealand by signing up to My COVID Record. Once you create an account, you can save your My Vaccine Pass to your phone or print out a physical copy.
Businesses, events, organisations, community, and a range of sectors may legally choose to implement a vaccination entry requirement for customers and communities.
However, there are a number of businesses that cannot choose to implement a vaccination entry requirement (like pharmacies and supermarkets).
Vaccine passes are different to the COVID-19 Tracer App, which is used for contact tracing. Using the COVID-19 Tracer App or manually signing into locations is required at all settings of the CPF.
Sport NZ has specific guidance on vaccine passes here.
Can I require my staff to be vaccinated?
The threshold for whether an employer can require a staff member to be vaccinated for a particular role is a high one. Employers may make vaccination a requirement for new employees (and existing employees if negotiated as a variation to the conditions of employment) only if, following a health and safety risk assessment, there is considered to be a high risk of contracting and transmitting COVID-19 to others (such as border workers, for example).
The Government has mandated vaccinations for some roles and settings (including in the education and health sectors), but organisations and individuals will need to determine whether they fall within these mandates or not.
For businesses where a Government vaccine mandate is not in place, the law will include a risk assessment process for employers to follow when deciding whether they can require vaccination for different types of work. This will cover factors like who workers interact with during their work days and how close that contact is, as well as ensuring our critical infrastructure and lifeline utilities can continue even if there has been exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace. This risk assessment will build on guidance already provided by WorkSafe NZ.
The government has announced that a simplified health and safety risk assessment will be introduced within the next 2-3 weeks. Organisations can choose whether to use the existing health and safety risk assessment to develop their policy now or wait to use the simplified risk assessment once it becomes law. See this WorkSafe website on How to decide what work requires a vaccinated employee for more information about the current health and safety risk assessment.
Can we ask or require people entering gatherings, events or facilities to tell us if they are vaccinated and/or refuse entry if they are not?
Most organisations are entitled to mandate vaccines for any third party who enters their facility (e.g. contractors, visitors, spectators), or enters an event that they are running (e.g. participants). For the sport and recreation sector, this could be required by a facility owner (e.g. the local council or a club), or it could be required by an event organiser (e.g the regional sports organisation). They can do this by making vaccination a condition of entry – no risk assessment is required. There are, however, other factors you may wish to take into account and a process that you may wish to follow to develop your position.
Some sport and recreation organisations and facilities may use vaccine passes to operate under the CPF (either as a requirement due to the nature of their activities, or as a choice). For example, all gyms are required to use vaccine passes at Orange and Red if they want to be able to open. More information about using vaccine passes will be published soon.
We are going to use vaccine passes for our sport or recreational event. Where do we start?
As mentioned above, as a facility or event, you are entitled to mandate vaccines for any third party who enters your facility (e.g. contractors, visitors, spectators), or enters an event that you are running (e.g. participants). You can mandate this as a facility owner or as an event organiser. You must clearly communicate prior to your event whether it is a My Vaccine Pass event (MVP). Posters and signage which communicate to attendees that they must have an MVP for entry to your event are also available for free download from the Unite Against COVID website.
If facility owners or event organisers decide to check vaccine passes, all attendees who come to your event must have a valid MVP (this does not include children under the age of 12 years and 3 months). An MVP is the only official record of attendees’ vaccination status for use in Aotearoa New Zealand. Attendees should have this printed out or saved on their phone prior to turning up, which might require some additional preparation if there is limited cell reception at the venue. If an attendee has a medical exemption, they will be issued a valid MVP. No other letters or passes are valid exemptions- in all cases you can ask to see a valid MVP.
If facility owners or event organisers choose to use MVP at your facility or event, you must ensure that all workers (including contractors and volunteers) also have a MVP. Vaccination has been mandated for events workers, food and drink services (excluding businesses operating solely as takeaways), events, close proximity businesses and indoor exercise facilities like gyms. Your workers must have had their first dose by 3 December 2021 and their second dose by 17 January 2022.
You can physically stop someone from entering who is not vaccinated or does not have a valid My Vaccine Pass to an event or facility that requires MVP. The venue and organisers should work together to establish who is responsible for ensuring the check of MVP at controlled entry points, and prepare them for this role. Each vaccine pass needs to be sited, but you do not need to verify every single pass. Use the NZ Pass Verifier App to scan and verify an MVP. You must also ensure that everyone entering your event scans the QR code or provides an alternative contact record.
If you are in a facility where entry and exit can be controlled, the organisation should be easily able to check visitors’ or participants’ vaccine passes when they enter the controlled facility or venue. However, if your event or activity takes place at a venue or facility where the entry and exit cannot be controlled easily, then you should take all practicable steps to verify MVPs. We recommend that in the first instance, it is the organisation’s responsibility to check members’ vaccine passes when they sign up. This could be at the start of a season or when someone registers for your event. However, at the time of the event or gathering, then it is the responsibility of individuals to make sure they have a verified My Vaccine Pass.
You can also exercise your judgement as to whether a child is younger than 12 years and 3 months and therefore does not need an MVP. You could ask the child how old they are, for their birth date, or their school ID.
If I have only had one vaccine and I can’t get my second one yet, can I be treated as if I have a vaccine pass?
No, until you have received two COVID-19 vaccinations and have a My Vaccine Pass through My COVID Record, you are treated as if you do not have a vaccination pass.
Where can I find information about signage for my MVP gathering or event?
The Unite Against COVID-19 website has many signs that can be used to communicate that a gathering or event is MVP only. You can find many free downloadable posters which you can print here.
Do we need the Internet to verify My Vaccine Passes?
Internet is required when you first download the app, however, you can use it to scan My Vaccine Passes without an internet connection. The Ministry of Health recommends that you connect the verifying devices to the Internet on a regular basis to ensure it can verify all valid My Vaccine Passes.
When can you get a My Vaccine Pass for children aged 12 years and over?
People under the age of 12 years and 3 months are not required to show proof of vaccination. However, once they are fully vaccinated, children aged 12 years and 3 months or older can get a My Vaccine Pass.
Are 5-11 year olds required to show a My Vaccine Pass?
Children aged 5-11 years old can now be vaccinated against COVID-19. They receive a children’s dose of the Pfizer vaccine, which is a lower dose provided at a smaller volume than the adult vaccine.
While vaccination among this age group is encouraged, 5-11 year olds are not required to show or have My Vaccine Passes. They are still counted toward the capacity limit of an event or gathering, but do not contribute to the vaccination status of an event or gathering. This means unvaccinated 5-11 year olds at a My Vaccine Pass event or gathering do not make that event or gathering non-My Vaccine Pass.
If you need more information about the COVID-19 vaccine for children the following information from the Ministry of Health can help you here.
Events and Gatherings
What is a gathering?
A gathering is people who are intermingling in a group but excludes people who remain at least 2 metres away from each other, so far as reasonably practicable. It includes gatherings to undertake voluntary or not-for-profit sporting, recreational, social or cultural activities.
What is an event?
An event is an activity organised by a business or service that is held at commercial premises or private premises, publicly owned premises for the purpose of the activity, or an outdoor area where a group of customers and clients is accompanied or supervised by a worker providing services to that group (for example, a guided tour). Entry is controlled through ticketing, fees, registration or by any other means. It excludes any activities at a private home.
Are the capacity limits per facility/venue, or are they per defined space?
You can have multiple groups of gatherings of each capacity limit if you meet the definition of defined spaces.
A defined indoor space is a single space if there are walls (permanent or temporary) that substantially divide each space, and the space does not share direct airflow with another indoor space.
A defined outdoor space is a single space if there are walls (permanent or temporary) that substantially divide each space or all people in that space are separated by at least 2 metres from other people who are outside that space.
How do I know if my defined space does not share airflow with another defined space?
Guidance from the Ministry of Health tells us that the key point to consider when deciding whether or not a space is adequately defined, is ensuring that groups do not mix. Every venue is different, so venue operators will need to make decisions about whether they can ensure that no intermingling occurs.
What processes you will need to implement to ensure mixing does not occur will be different depending on your venue. You could stagger start times for your gatherings or offer separate service desks to reduce the risk of mixing.
If different gatherings have to share bathroom facilities, you need to mitigate intermingling as much as possible. Face coverings must be worn when passing through all common areas and no interaction should occur between different gatherings.
Do under 12s who cannot be vaccinated count towards the capacity limit?
Yes, children under the age of 12 count towards the capacity limit for your gathering or event. However, having children under the age of 12 who cannot be vaccinated does not trigger a non-vaccination pass gathering. If everyone also present at the gathering presents a My Vaccine Pass, then the gathering can follow the vaccination pass rules and capacity limits (if there are any).
Can I host consecutive events or gatherings for people with vaccine passes and then people without vaccine passes?
Yes, this is possible, however there are certain things you will need to do and consider when planning these consecutive sessions or gatherings. Provided that sequential cohorts are managed so that no intermingling of groups occurs, and rooms are ventilated and high-touch surfaces cleaned between cohorts, public health advice supports allowing switching between vaccinated and unvaccinated settings. This must be made clear to all involved (staff and attendees) and there should be clear processes to manage this.
Can we hold multiple gatherings of unvaccinated and vaccinated people at the same time, at our venue?
Multiple gatherings of unvaccinated and vaccinated people can occur outdoors if sufficient measures are in place to maintain separation between gatherings at all times. Unvaccinated and vaccinated gatherings cannot occur simultaneously at indoor premises.
Outside, gatherings need to be in defined spaces. This means there are walls, either permanent or temporary, separating groups, or 2 metres distance is maintained at all times.
If gatherings need to share bathroom facilities, then face coverings must be worn when passing through common areas. No queuing or congregating can occur, and no intermingling of people between gatherings must take place. You may need to stagger arrival times to ensure mixing does not occur at entry and exit ways.
Can we offer classes that use vaccine passes and classes that don’t use vaccine passes?
Yes, clubs and facilities may switch between operating under vaccination pass required/not required, provided that the premise/space is cleaned between groups.
However, this does not include gyms or sporting and recreation events who cannot operate at Orange or Red without vaccination passes.
Can gatherings in defined spaces share the same entrances, toilets and changing facilities?
It is okay for multiple gatherings in defined spaces to use the same entrances and share toilets/changing facilities so long as the risks of intermingling groups is limited as far as possible, Organisations will need to communicate this with visitors or users of their facilities. Queuing or congregating should not take place in common areas. Masks should be worn in common areas or facilities accessed by gatherings (like shared toilets).
Can we use clubroom changing facilities, such as indoor showers and drinking fountains?
Clubroom changing facilities (including bathroom facilities such as showers) and drinking fountains are open for use under the COVID-19 Protection Framework. If there are multiple gatherings occurring in separate defined spaces which share facilities (i.e. separate gatherings occurring in different studios of a building that has only one bathroom facility), then individuals from each gathering can share the facilities so long as there is no intermingling between people, congregating or queuing in common areas take place.
Further, the number of people that that can have use of bathroom facilities at any one time is limited to align with the physical distancing requirements of the CPF setting you are operating under. For example, if you were using bathroom facilities without requiring My Vaccine Passes in the Red setting then you could have up to 100 people in this space based on allowing 1m2 of space per person. If your bathroom is 10m2 then you could have 10 people in the space.
The Ministry of Health also recommends ensuring frequent cleaning of bathroom facilities and drinking fountains. Face coverings should also be used indoors as is practical (i.e. when not showering). Clubs could encourage members to bring water bottles filled from home and provide reminders about how to use drinking fountains most hygienically.
Who is a worker?
Workers at events do not count towards capacity limits when they are present. Therefore, it is important to know who is considered a worker at your event.
People are workers if they carry out work in any capacity for a business or service. It does not matter if this work is paid or not-both volunteers and paid employees are workers. This means you must be carrying out work for a sports team, club, facility, or other organisation.
Someone who is umpiring an informal sports game between friends is not a worker. Likewise, if you work for a sports facility, but visit in the capacity of a visitor to use the facility, then you are not considered a worker for the time you are there. You must be carrying out a business or service.
For example, if you are volunteering for a private tennis club’s master’s competition as a referee then you are a worker and you do not count towards the capacity limit. Or, if you are a corner person for a club run boxing event, then you would be a worker as you are working for the club. You would not count towards the capacity limit.
Can our attendees use a negative COVID-19 test and come to an event or gathering where vaccine passes are used?
No – a negative COVID-19 test is not a substitute for vaccinations for events or gatherings under the CPF. If there are unvaccinated people at your event or gathering, then you must follow the rules and limits for where vaccine passes are not used.
Do I need to sight a vaccination pass for all contractors and suppliers involved in delivering my event?
If facility owners or event organisers choose to use My Vaccine Pass at your facility or event, you must ensure that all workers (including suppliers, contractors and volunteers) also have a My Vaccine Pass and take all practicable steps to verify that this is the case. You can ask your suppliers and contractors to confirm to you that all of their workers involved in delivering the event are vaccinated and that they have sighted and verified the My Vaccine Passes for these individuals (for example, by including this in your contract with the supplier and receiving written confirmation that this verification has taken place).
What is the relationship between the Health & Safety at Work Act and the Covid Protection Framework?
The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA) is New Zealand’s workplace health and safety law. It sets out the obligations, roles and responsibilities of businesses, undertakings (including not-for-profit organisations), officers, workers and others in managing workplace health and safety risks. The Covid-19 Protection Framework sets out the specific public health requirements for managing the risk of Covid-19 transmission. It identifies the controls you need to use to minimise the risk for your workers, volunteers, and other people affected by the work, such as customers.
When an event organiser is planning how to operate an event, you will need to consider both how you will implement the new public health requirements under the CPF, as well as how you will continue to meet the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 requirements that may apply to your business or undertaking.
You can find more information about operating safely under these overlapping duties on the Worksafe NZ website here.
When do my obligations start and end as the event organiser for a My Vaccine Pass event?
Under the Health and Safety at Work Act, an event organiser’s health and safety obligations extend beyond the time that participants are on site. These health and safety obligations generally start when the event organiser takes over the event site or venue, and finish when that site or venue is handed back following the event clean up. This is a useful guide as to when an event organiser’s obligations under the CPF start and finish for that event. If the event is a My Vaccine Pass event, this means the vaccine requirements will apply to all the contractors, workers and volunteers involved in setting up and packing up after the event, as well as to those people who are involved during the time that participants are taking part in the event.
Public facilities and private businesses
What is a public facility?
A public facility is a premise that is owned or managed by central or local government, and used for recreational, social, community, or cultural activities and services, and are open to the public general (including premises where fees are charged for entry). They can be a mix of indoor or indoor and outdoor premises.
Public facilities excludes premises used exclusively for an event or gathering, and excludes recreation facilities that require membership to enter (for example, gyms).
Councils have the right to set policies around capacity numbers and the use of a vaccination pass to use their facilities.
We are a local government-owned facility that has a mixture of sport and recreation venues and other public venues in the same building. What do we do?
Public venues are defined as services or facilities provided by central or local government that are open to all of the public for recreational, social, community or cultural activities or services, including museums, public galleries, libraries, recreational centres, swimming pools and zoos.
Public venues can open at Green, Orange and Red, but must follow certain rules depending on the traffic light setting. Local councils should follow the specific rules for their gyms, swimming pools and recreation centres as set out in the Sport NZ CPF guidance. All other parts of the facilities should be managed in accordance with the traffic light rules for public facilities.
Councils have the right to set policies around capacity numbers and the use of a vaccination pass to use their facilities.
Why is there a difference between the rules for public facilities and private facilities?
Public facilities are council-owned facilities that all people should be able to access, so they must follow the wider rules for Public facilities. Private facilities must follow the rules for Gatherings (excluding private pools).
I have a sports club or facility that serves food and drink, has a shop, or has close contact businesses on our premises. What can I do?
In Green, Orange and Red, you will need to consider specific rules for the commercial premises that you run at your sports club or facility, such as retail shops or hospitality.
If you have a retail shop, you can open at the Red setting. The number of people you can have in your retail shop will depend on capacity limits, as all people in the shop must be able to be 1 metre distanced from each other.
If you have a hospitality venue, you can open at the Red setting. If you use MVP, the number of people you can have in your hospitality venue will depend on capacity limits, as all people in the shop must be able to be 1 metre distanced from each other. They must be seated and separated to eat or drink. If you don’t use MVP, then your business can only operate as a takeaway service, following the retail rules.
If you have a close contact business at your facility (e.g. a masseuse), you can open if you use MVP at the Red setting. There will be public health requirements in place. If you don’t use MVP, then you cannot operate.
For more information about safely operating these parts of your business or organisation, visit MBIE’s and WorkSafe’s websites.
Can we still operate Learn to Swim classes in Orange and Red setting?
Yes, as there are no limits of physical distancing while these programmes take place. However, pools may have capacity limits depending on the traffic light setting.
What is the definition of a gym?
Means an indoor exercise facility operated by a business or service for which access is either limited to members, or otherwise controlled by the facility (through ticketing, fees, registration, or other means). This includes martial arts gyms, boxing and combat gyms, personal training studios, yoga studios and dance studios.
Gyms do not include exercise facilities that are available for use only by residents of a premises on which the exercise facility is located. For example, an apartment building gym which is available only for use by those who live in the building.
Gyms must use vaccine passes to open at Orange and Red. They can choose whether or not to use vaccine passes at Green, but have capacity limits if they don’t use them.
It is important to note that workers at gyms who are opening in Green, Orange and Red with vaccine passes must also be vaccinated. They must have had their first vaccination by 3 December 2021, and their second vaccination by 17 January 2022.
Do I need to sight a vaccination pass every time a member comes to a class or the club?
We have had it confirmed by the Ministry of Health that membership-based businesses (like gyms) may offer the ability for members to email their COVID-19 vaccine pass, with the following special conditions:
- That it is verified in the normal way (i.e. using the verify app), checking DOB and name
- Only the expiry date is recorded in the members’ records
- The email is deleted.
The last step is important as vaccine passes must not be stored in any way (including in email archives). This means exercise providers can allow members who cannot make it into the facility, or just want to do it in advance, to email in their pass.