Auckland Council is asking for feedback from its 170 elected members over the next two weeks on draft guidelines around access to council offices and meeting spaces for those with and without COVID-19 vaccinations.
Based on government settings, and after conducting its own risk assessment, the council has proposed that, in order to ensure the safety of all its staff, only those elected members who have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine will be able to come into council offices and meeting spaces.
Those elected members who are not vaccinated, or don’t want to disclose their vaccination status, will be asked to work remotely during periods where there is risk of the virus circulating in the community.
These guidelines will sit alongside a council workforce policy, consulted on during November, that proposes all employees, and a range of others who do work for the council, should be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to safely carry out their roles.
Once the proposed guidelines for elected members are consulted on, adopted and in place, they will be reviewed every three months. It is anticipated they will be in place as long as they are required under the Government’s new COVID-19 Protection Framework.
Mayor Phil Goff says that elected members who are not vaccinated will be supported to work remotely and participate in all meetings and workshops online.
“This is about keeping everyone safe – our elected members, our staff, other people who work for the council and members of the public who need to come to our offices,” he says.
“We will review these guidelines as the COVID-19 Protection Framework shifts, but, for now, they provide an opportunity for all elected members to take a leadership role in ensuring we make wellbeing and safety the number one priority.”
Following the consultation period and analysis of feedback, the council’s proposed staff vaccination policy is expected to be agreed in early December.
Auckland Council Chief Executive Jim Stabback says, as with the council workforce proposal, the risk posed by COVID-19 and the potential ways of managing it were the key considerations in developing the draft guidelines for elected members.
“Although we are limiting access to council offices and meeting spaces for those elected members who are unvaccinated, it is essential that they can continue to perform their democratic role.
“To do so, they will be provided with the tools, resources and support they need to carry on with their work remotely until such time as the guidelines change.
“As we think about how to best protect our people when our office buildings reopen, the staff policy and these elected member guidelines provide clarity, have health and safety at their core, and are in the best interests of everyone.”
Following the consultation period and analysis of the feedback, it is expected the guidelines for elected members will be agreed by 15 December.