tertiary and international covid-19 bulletin

Tertiary and international COVID-19 bulletin
24 March 2022

24 March 2022
tertiary and international covid-19 bulletin

Tertiary and international COVID-19 bulletin

24 March 2022

COVID-19 Protection Framework settings

All of New Zealand is at Red (Phase 3).

Our bulletins set out key information on changes to New Zealand’s COVID-19 response and what this means for the tertiary sector.

We are working to update our more detailed guidance. In the meantime, please rely on what is set out in this bulletin. 

If you need any clarification, please contact COVID19.TertiaryandInternational@education.govt.nz.

Changes to vaccination mandates and My Vaccine Passes

Effective from 11:59pm Monday 4 April 2022, My Vaccine Pass (MVP) requirements will be removed from the COVID-19 Protection Framework.

With the removal of MVPs, the corresponding worker vaccination requirements will also go (for example, for workers at food and drink, close-proximity businesses or gyms).

For tertiary education, this means that there is no longer a Government vaccination requirement for staff, students or visitors to go on site tertiary education premises at Red. Vaccine mandates for the early learning, primary and secondary education workforces will also be removed. 

We are now overall a highly vaccinated country. Vaccine requirements like MVPs and mandates played an important role in getting us there. They have done the job they were put in place for. While cases remain high for now, removing these requirements reflects that New Zealand is moving into a post-peak phase.

The removal of MVPs means that tertiary providers need to look at whether their own vaccination policies are still appropriate, based on a workplace health and safety risk assessment.

Providers can continue their own vaccine policies or restrictions, but they need to ensure these are consistent with an updated workplace health and safety risk assessment and their normal responsibilities. They need to be able to justify any continuance, with updated public health guidance and their normal responsibilities.

These responsibilities include (but are not limited to):

  • their human rights obligations
  • work health and safety requirements
  • expectations for learner wellbeing and safety systems
  • contractual relationships with students
  • student enrolment entitlements
  • relevant pastoral care codes
  • equity considerations

The MVP infrastructure will remain should businesses or tertiary providers choose to use it. Places where MVP use is currently prohibited (for example health and disability services and pharmacies) will have no changes to their settings.

It is important that you work with your staff, students and their representatives when identifying health and safety risks and how these will be managed. Your community is likely to want to understand if vaccinations are required and, if so, why this is the case.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and WorkSafe are updating their guidance, including the vaccination assessment tool, to reflect the removal of government mandates and the updated public health guidance on vaccinations.

This will be available on their websites over the next week.

Current guidance can be found at:

How to decide what work requires a vaccinated employee – WorkSafe

Vaccines and the workplace – Employment NZ

Vaccination assessment tool – Business NZ

Other changes to COVID-19 Protection Framework settings

The Government has announced other framework changes now that we are moving into the post-peak phase of Omicron. 

These are intended to support a general shift towards greater self-management, particularly at the Orange and Green settings of the framework.

Key changes, and their implications for tertiary, as well as confirmation of existing key settings, are set out below. 

The Government also signalled that it would review shifting all (or parts) of the country to Orange on Monday 4 April. We will update you on this as soon as we can.

QR code requirements

Across all traffic light settings, workplaces (including tertiary providers) are no longer required to enable people to record their visit (for example, through displaying COVID Tracer QR codes). 

This change will take effect from 11:59pm Friday 25 March.

However, providers should retain capability to swiftly reinstall COVID Tracer QR codes in case these are required again in future. There is no longer a requirement to offer alternative forms of recordkeeping (for example paper-based).

Capacity limits

From 11:59pm Friday 25 March, at Red, tertiary providers must continue to base capacity limits on the one-metre physical distancing rule, though there is no broad upper limit (this is unchanged).

For indoor events, gatherings, food and drink businesses and gyms (including those onsite at a tertiary facility) that are using MVPs, the current capacity limit will increase to a maximum of 200 people, based on one-metre physical distancing.

From 11:59pm Monday 4 April, when MVPs are removed from the Framework, capacity limits will no longer depend on vaccination status.

When we move to Orange, there will be no capacity limits. However, allocated seating or one-metre physical distancing is strongly encouraged, particularly for indoor events of 500 or more people.

When we move to Green, there will be no capacity limits.

Across all traffic light settings, there will be no capacity limits for outdoor gatherings.

Face mask requirements

There are no changes to the current face mask requirements for tertiary education.

At Red, face masks must continue to be used indoors at tertiary education premises open to the public and during formal teaching and learning activities (unless there is an exemption). 

At Orange and Green, the use of face masks in tertiary settings is encouraged but not required.

The Ministry of Health has provided further clarity on when contacts should isolate

For households where someone has COVID-19, the Ministry of Health recommends you apply the following guidance:

  • If someone becomes a confirmed COVID-19 case, then that case and all other people in their household must isolate for seven days.
  • If someone else in the household tests positive for COVID-19 during those seven days: 
    • the isolation period for that person only re-sets. So that person must isolate for an additional seven days from the day they test positive, or symptoms begin. 
    • other household contacts who do not test positive are still able to leave isolation after the original case has completed their seven days isolation 
  • For the next 10 days after a household completes seven days isolation, evidence shows that due to their exposure to COVID-19 they are less likely to catch or transmit the virus.   
    • This means if someone else in the household tests positive within those 10 days, the whole household will not have to re-isolate, only the positive case.  
    • If someone else in the household tests positive and it has been more than 10 days since the household completed isolation, household contacts should re-isolate along with the new case for seven days.
  • However, any person who has had COVID-19 within the last 90 days/three months will not need to isolate as a household contact unless they become symptomatic and test positive again. This is because reinfection rates for people who have had COVID-19 are low for the three months after they have the virus. 

Day 0 for isolation is the day symptoms began or the day the positive test was taken (whichever came first). You should then count your seven days from there.

Update on booster shots for people under 18

Booster COVID-19 vaccines are not yet approved by Medsafe for people under 18 years of age and are not currently part of our COVID-19 national vaccination programme.

Pfizer has applied to Medsafe to reduce the age threshold for boosters for the Pfizer vaccine, which is the preferred booster vaccine for use in New Zealand. A decision is expected soon. We will tell you more about this when we can.

In the meantime, the Ministry of Health advises that tertiary students under the age of 18 might be able to get a prescription for a COVID-19 booster from their GP. As with other medicines, vaccines can be used outside of Medsafe approval (i.e. ‘off label’) if they are prescribed by an authorised prescriber. 

It is recommended that students under 18 discuss their situation with their GP or medical specialist. Appointments to discuss COVID-19 vaccine options, and all COVID-19 vaccines (including boosters) are free, including for those who are under 18.

Be prepared for COVID-19

Whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, everyone should prepare for what they need to do if they get COVID-19.

The Unite against COVID-19 website has resources to help you.

Be prepared for COVID-19 – Unite against COVID-19

Travelling and COVID-19

While vaccination is highly effective, it is still possible to get COVID-19.

You may get it while you are away from home, even if you are following the rules. You should prepare for what you may need to do if this happens.

If you get COVID-19 while travelling – Unite against COVID-19

Email address for questions

All tertiary and international COVID-19 related queries can be emailed to us through our central mailbox COVID19.TertiaryandInternational@education.govt.nz.

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