Covid-19 Delta outbreak: Government needs to make vaccination mandatory for workers – Auckland’s Chamber of Commerce says

The Government needs to make it mandatory for workers to be vaccinated against Covid-19, says Michael Barnett, the chief executive of Auckland’s Chamber of Commerce.

The business group has recently surveyed members and found 90 per cent endorsed mandatory workplace vaccination.

Speaking on Newstalk ZB this morning Barnett said the survey result was not surprising.

“We have had government make it clear that 90 per cent vaccination is the target for New Zealand.

“They have done that in the name of safety for all New Zealanders. Employers are in exactly the same environment – for them it is safety first, for their workplaces and safety for their consumers.”

Barnett said it should be mandatory for workers across the country, not just limited to Auckland where the current Delta outbreak is centred.

“I don’t think we should be looking at Auckland. It should be wider than that. I think that other than those essential workers at the border business could try and make it mandatory but we would face legal challenge and years of testing and cost.

“What we need is for the government to remove all ambiguity or for the health order – that needs to be extended to give direction for employers. To me, that is the best way to go. Not just Auckland for the whole of NZ.”

He called on the Government to act now rather than letting it play out through the court system.

“For me, this is about safety, and it is safety for workplaces and safety for the consumers and the government needs to remove the ambiguity and give clarity for employers and do it now. We can’t wait for months.”

He said the Government needed to start listening to a bit more to the business community.

“I know they have their advisers in Wellington. they are probably very smart but the environment in which business operates is probably the best adviser to them for how this might best be given clarity.”

Barnett said the ambiguity around employer vaccination meant Covid was able to get out of Auckland and was likely to see the country’s economic powerhouse stay in alert level 3 for longer.

“Given we have got the crazy situation where we have got truck drivers moving backwards and forward and they don’t need to be vaccinated in this absolutely stupid environment operationally you would have to ask how did this happen?

“As a result of not operationalising some of these things probably we are going to have to pay the price I would think we have got at least another week in level 3 and possibly more.”

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