St Andrew’s on The Terrace: Traffic Light System: how it will work and what it means for us.
We are seeing growing cases of COVID in the community, slowly spreading around the country. Around 25% of the population is not vaccinated – mostly our children. We note that several vaccines have been approved in the USA for children aged 5-12 years; other governments are likely to follow this lead including in New Zealand. While being vaccinated will stop most people from getting ill, up to 4% will still catch the virus and pass it on. This situation requires different measures from the elimination strategy that was introduced in March 2020. The Government has announced that on Thursday 2 December at 11:59 pm the country will move to the Traffic Light System (officially, the New Zealand COVID-19 Protection Framework), which introduces the Vaccine Pass and three levels for managing COVID in the community.
The three levels relate to the degree of risk to individuals, the community and to the health system and are denoted green, orange and red. The situation and protective measures for each traffic light as it pertains to St Andrew’s on The Terrace is summarised below. The full document can be found at https://covid19.govt.nz/assets/COVID-19-Protection-Framework/COVID-19-Protection-Framework-22-October-2021.pdf
Situation: limited community transmission; hospitalisations at a manageable level.
Requirements: record keeping and scanning; masks on flights and encouraged indoors; regional boundary restrictions will not apply.
Limits on numbers with Vaccine Pass: none
Limits on numbers without Vaccine Pass: 100 people plus 1 metre distancing.
Situation: increasing community transmission with increasing pressure on the health system; increasing risk to vulnerable populations.
Requirements: record keeping and scanning; mandatory masks on flights and public transport, taxis, retail, public venues and encouraged elsewhere; regional boundary restrictions will not apply.
Limits of numbers with Vaccine Pass: None
Limits of numbers without Vaccine Pass: 50 people plus 1 metre distancing; no close contact businesses can operate, no events are permitted (the Centre would need to close; church attendance would be highly restricted, more so than now).
Situation: action needed to protect the health system with the system facing an unsustainable level of hospitalisations; action needed to protect at-risk populations.
Requirements: record keeping and scanning; mandatory masks on flights and public transport, taxis, retail, public venues and whenever leaving the house; regional boundary restrictions may apply.
Limits of numbers with Vaccine Pass: 100 plus 1 metre distancing
Limits of numbers without Vaccine Pass: 10 people plus 1 meter distancing; no close contact businesses can operate, no events are permitted (the Centre would need to close; we would not be able to meet as a congregation).
Jim has already set out the strong arguments for getting vaccinated. These can be summed up as:
- protecting your own health
- protecting the whole community
- recognising the risks associated with spreading the virus, which public health experts tell us unvaccinated people can expect to do with a high degree of certainty; some will become very ill themselves and some will die as we are currently seeing in Auckland
- protecting the health system, which is at real risk of overloading if the spread is not contained, so that people with other health requirements like surgery and cancer treatment do not get pushed out of hospitals.
The traffic light system is the Government’s way of controlling the spread of the virus while allowing people to live and work as normally as possible. Looking at the various controls at the different coloured traffic lights, you can see how much safer people will feel in general if they know they are going to a venue, which requires the Vaccine Pass. This also applies to coming to church and church events.. Importantly we will need to be clear about which rules we are operating under when our Minister candidate preaches a call on Sunday 19 December. We want to give her and ourselves the best possible opportunity to carry out this important step in our process of calling a new minister.
The Vaccine Pass will mean much more freedom and flexibility to operate with fewer restrictions on numbers and other measures. The same goes for running the Centre. Many of our regular users have already been in touch to ask whether we are intending to become a Vaccine Pass venue. For some of our users, like schools, double vaccination is mandatory so our regular education users will not be able to come to St Andrew’s Centre unless we require the Vaccine Pass for entry.
As Paul Barber, our Treasurer, set out at the recent Annual General Meeting, our facilities income has taken a huge hit in August, September and October, and we expect the effect to continue for some time to come. Facilities income is the largest financial supporter of our mission and ministry. Becoming a Vaccine Pass venue is likely to be the only way we are going to recover financially.
To sum up from now on we will be living with Covid-19 in our community. We can limit the impact of COVID by using all the tools available including the newly introduced Vaccine Pass. We will need to continue using masks on flights and are encouraged to use them indoors. The Vaccine Pass makes contact tracing more reliable because everyone will be scanned by the venue. Limiting the movements of those most likely to be infected (those not vaccinated) is the additional tool.
Last Sunday 21 November we had a congregational conversation about moving to the Traffic Light System and what that will mean for us. We found strong support for being a fully vaccinated congregation and centre. But it is important to us that everyone has an opportunity to speak and discuss any concerns they may have. If you want to talk with anyone about getting vaccinated or about becoming a Vaccine Pass venue please feel free to get in touch with Jim (027 680 1159) or Lynne (029 279 8120). We also have three GPS in our congregation who would be willing to share their experience and information: Gabrielle Ruben, Katrina Harper and Ben Gray. You can catch them at church or contact Katrina on 021 022 30535 or email on email@example.com and Ben on 029 331 4440 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Some people also wanted to know how they could get a Vaccine Pass. Here is the link: https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus/covid-19-vaccines/my-covid-record-proof-vaccination-status
You can create it on your smart phone if you have one or you can print a paper copy. Either is equally valid. We will be happy to assist those who would like some help. Please email the office (email@example.com) to register your interest or talk to one of us. We can work with everyone to make sure you have the help you need.
Parish Council will take all of the above into account and any other information and views that are available in discussing this matter at our meeting on 2 December 2021. We will report back following our meeting.
Jim Cunningham and Lynne Dovey
On behalf of Parish Council
CALLING A NEW MINISTER
As announced recently, we can confirm that the plan for a Minister candidate to preach for a call on 19 December 2021 will proceed. Further information on the candidate, who was recommended to the Parish Council by the Ministry Settlement Board, will be sent out to individual members next week. There will be an opportunity to meet the candidate at an afternoon tea in the hall on Saturday 18 December. The Sunday service will be followed by a Special General Meeting when members and associate members will be invited to vote on whether to proceed with a call to the candidate. Whānau members will also have an opportunity to vote although we will not be able to record those numbers when we send our recommendation to Presbytery. More details will follow shortly.
To view the full e-news click here: https://mailchi.mp/6f3b3f212d49/this-weeks-newsletter-from-st-andrews-on-the-terrace-8631445