The government says vaccine passes will be a part of daily life. (Tina Tiller)
The government says vaccine passes will be a part of daily life. (Tina Tiller)

The BulletinNovember 17, 2021

Your vaccine pass is ready

The government says vaccine passes will be a part of daily life. (Tina Tiller)
The government says vaccine passes will be a part of daily life. (Tina Tiller)

Before a move to the traffic light system, the fully vaccinated can download the passes later today that will be required to enter restaurants and other businesses, Justin Giovannetti writes in The Bulletin.

Vaccine passes are nearly here. An easy-to-use proof of vaccination is one of the cornerstones of the government’s plan to end lockdowns and get on with summer. The passes, also called certificates or passports, are an essential part of the traffic light system that could be implemented within the coming weeks to replace alert levels. You’ll need to show one before entering many businesses. The prime minister is expected to announce firmer plans later today about when the change to the traffic light system is likely. The government’s My Vaccine Pass system is set to go online today and, according to Covid-19 minister Chris Hipkins, provides a “ticket to enjoy the extra freedoms that will come” this summer.

“The pass will mean people will be able to do the things they love, like going to concerts and music festivals, nights out at bars and restaurants, and going to the gym and sports events,” said Hipkins. He added that the pass will become part of a daily routine, like carrying around a driver’s licence.

How will it work? The pass has your name, date of birth and a QR code that is scanned when you arrive at a business or venue. It can either be stored on your phone’s wallet or carried in printed form. The information on the QR code will be matched with a central database maintained by the Ministry of Health. People might also be asked to show photo ID to ensure their name matches the details on the pass.

How do I get it? You’ll first need to sign up for the pass at My Covid Record and they should be available later today. You’ll need a personal email address–shared household emails won’t work. The government isn’t asking for people to necessarily request a pass today, but to get their profiles set up. It’ll likely be a few weeks before the traffic light system kicks in. You can also call 0800 222 478 if you don’t have a computer or a required form of ID.

Where will it be required? The proof of vaccination will likely need to be shown by everyone over the age of 12 at events, hospitality venues, retail, community events, airports, sports and faith-based gatherings. On the other side of the ledger, supermarkets, pharmacies, health services, petrol stations and schools are some of the few places that won’t be allowed to deny entry based on vaccination status.

People who aren’t vaccinated or don’t want to carry a pass will likely be denied entry to most businesses in the country next year. Businesses will have the option of not asking for vaccine passes, but even under the lowest level of the traffic light system, it’ll come at a heavy cost. Under the green level, choosing to forgo passes means they’ll have strict capacity limits and will need to maintain social distancing between patrons who will be required to remain seated. At orange or red, many will need to close or remain contactless.

Who won’t need a pass? Children under the age of 12 and people with a valid medical exemption, the latter category is very small, likely fewer than 100 people in the entire country.

Will booster shots be included in the system? Eventually, yes. A pass will only be valid for six months and the government has now warned that the definition for “fully vaccinated” could be changed in the near-future to require a booster.

How long will this last? The government says “until further notice” for domestic use, however an international system could last much longer. New international vaccine certificates are now available as well that include a QR code that can be scanned overseas. It’s a separate system because other countries are using different forms of codes with different information requirements. Don’t try to travel with your domestic vaccine pass, it won’t work. The European Union was the first jurisdiction to accept New Zealand’s international certificates, but more approvals are likely to follow. “It’s anticipated that the need for proof of a vaccine certification when travelling internationally will be in place for years to come,” according to the government.

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