Queenstown Lakes District Council staff have been verbally abused for asking customers to follow Covid-19 procedures.
Council chief executive Mike Theelen called out the reported bad behaviour last week and reminded people vaccine passes were now compulsory at most Wanaka and Queenstown ratepayer-funded facilities.
The traffic light system came into effect on Friday .
‘‘It’s incredibly disappointing that many of our front-line staff are already being verbally abused and threatened and I would ask people to recognise and respect that council staff are just trying to do their job. These are decisions of council made in alignment with Government direction and legislation. It’s never OK to abuse or make staff feel unsafe.”
The council has decided while the region is in orange, all people aged 12 and older visiting most staffed services, facilities and venues must show a vaccine pass and be masked on entry.
Mr Theelen said the policy decision was not taken lightly but the council was responsible for protecting staff and communities.
“We have a very high vaccination rate right across the district, so most people will be able to continue to use our facilities as usual,’’ he said.
Some services might go online or be adapted to contactless so unvaccinated people could use them.
But that would not include pools or gyms, Mr Theelen said.
“For the time being, public reception areas at council offices at Gorge Rd in Queenstown and Ardmore St in Wanaka are open to everyone. We know these locations are important for members of the public to ask questions, seek advice and carry out transactions such as rates payments, and we’re confident that through the continued use of plastic screens, face masks and physical distancing we can maintain the safety of customers and staff in these areas at present.”
The council would continue to review the policy, in line with central Government advice, Mr Theelen said.
It would take time to get used to the new rules and people should be patient and continue to be kind to one another, he said.
The same rules regarding vaccination applied to council staff and contractors.
It is necessary to have a vaccine pass to enter: the Queenstown Events Centre (including Alpine Health and Fitness gym, Alpine Aqualand facilities, including swim school, and Rockatipu Climbing Wall); the Wanaka Recreation Centre, including aquatic facilities and swim school; Arrowtown Memorial Pool; Frankton Golf Centre (note proof of vaccination is not required to use the golf course itself); all QLDC libraries; and community venues, including but not limited to the Queenstown Memorial Centre, Arrowtown Athenaeum Hall and Lake Wanaka Centre.
Vaccine passes are not needed at council-managed transfer stations and recycling centres but visitors must use the NZ Covid Tracer app or manual registration form, wear a mask and observe 1m physical distancing.
More details on additional requirements for sport, recreation and library facilities are on the council website and at the venues.