Monday 6 December 2021 (Courtesy of Cooney Lees Morgan Tauranga)

The Traffic Light System Explained

Most workplaces will be able to operate at all levels of the framework, provided that they comply with the use of My Vaccine Pass where required.

Hospitality, events, gatherings, close contact businesses and gyms (Pass Required Businesses) must require all persons entering the premises to scan their My Vaccine Pass using the verifier app.

Businesses who are not excluded from doing so can opt into using the My Vaccine Pass system for entry to their premises, provided that they have undertaken a health and safety risk assessment to determine what work needs to be performed by vaccinated people, and implemented those requirements for employees at their workplace.

These businesses can then require anyone entering their workplace to provide their My Vaccine Pass as an entry requirement to the business as a health and safety control measure. Some businesses have already started contacting clients and suppliers to advise them that their My Covid Pass must be scanned in order to enter their premises under the COVID-19 Protection Framework.

What do the different traffic lights mean for businesses?

GREEN:
At the ‘green light’ setting all workplaces and retail outlets can open.

There are no limits on Pass Required Businesses provided they are using the vaccine certificate system. If they are not, limits of up to 100 people with 1m distancing apply.

ORANGE: Under the ‘orange light’ setting all workplaces can open.

Retail can open with capacity limits based on 1m distancing. There are no limits on Pass Required Businesses provided they are using the vaccine certificate system.

If they are not using vaccine passes:

  • Hospitality = cannot open, contactless services only
  • Gatherings = limit of up to 50 people with 1m distancing
  • All other close contact businesses, gyms and events are not allowed

RED:  Under the ‘red light’ setting all workplaces can open, but working from home is encouraged.

Retail can open with capacity limits based on 1m distancing.

Limits on Pass Required Businesses provided they are using the vaccine certificate system are:

  • Hospitality and Events = up to 100 people seated, with 1m distancing
  • Gatherings and Gyms = up to 100 people, with 1m distancing
  • Close contact businesses = public health requirements in place
  • Tertiary education = 1m distancing

If they are not using the vaccine certificate system:

  • Hospitality = can’t open, contactless services only
  • Gatherings limits of up to 10 people
  • Tertiary education = distance learning only
  • All other close contact businesses, gyms and events are not allowed.

For the full framework breakdown, visit the Unite Against COVID-19 website. 

Who can’t use My Vaccine Pass Pass as an entry requirement for their business?

Basic needs services, such as supermarkets, pharmacies, health and disability services and primary and secondary education facilities cannot ask for proof of verification status and will not require an NZ Pass Verifier.

New Risk Assessment Tool

The tool provides a legal framework to help businesses make decisions about vaccinations in the workplace. It builds on the existing guidance provided by WorkSafe and specifies four key factors, at least three of which must be met before it would be reasonable to require vaccination for particular work.

The key factors are:

  1. Workers are in an area with less than 100m2indoor space
  2. Workers work less than 1m apart from other people
  3. Workers are routinely near others for more than 15 minutes
  4. That the workers provide services to people vulnerable to COVID-19

The new process doesn’t override risk assessments that businesses have already carried out under the existing health and safety guidelines. Businesses can choose which tool they use, and any assessments performed to date remain valid.

What should you do if you are unsure about your options?

The current legal landscape for businesses dealing with vaccination issues is a potential minefield for the unwary. Legal advice should be sought as early as possible on the options that are best for your business, and how to manage the transition into the new framework. For further information please contact your legal advisor.

Other helpful links:



These short updates are aimed at offering a simple interpretation of the “rules” surrounding business managers, as we navigate through the minefield that has been presented to us by COVID 19.

Some Key Dates
29 November:  Cabinet will confirm the decision to move Auckland and the rest of New Zealand into the new traffic light system.
2 December: At 11:59 pm, all of New Zealand will move to the COVID-19 Protection Framework. Auckland will move to Red and settings for the rest of New Zealand are yet to be decided on.

Traffic Light System Simplified
1)Green - Not many cases in the community and the health system can cope
-Scan QR codes and wear a mask when indoors at public places. Near normal freedom otherwise, subject to being vaccinated. Vaccine certificates are key. Number and spacing limits imposed on gatherings if they are not vaccine certificate compliant. Travel within NZ is ok.

2)Orange – More/many cases in the community, health system busy but coping.
-Scan QR codes and wear a mask when indoors at public places. Spacing in public places one meter. Travel within NZ is ok. Vaccine certificates are key. If non-vaccinated, access can be limited to some places and a limit of 50 at non-vaccinated events with spacing.

3)Red – Many cases in the community and health systems are too stressed to cope.
-Scan QR codes and wear a mask when you leave home. Work from home if possible. No travel between some parts of NZ. Vaccine certificates are key. Some places can operate with vaccine certificates and limits on numbers. Maximum 100 people for vaccinated gatherings, with spacing.

If non-vaccinated many places cannot operate and gatherings are limited to 10 people.

Employment

  1. The Govt has mandated vaccines for certain workplaces and industries. This includes:
    -Border and managed isolation quarantine workers
    -Health and disability workers
    -Prison workers
    -Education sector workers
  1. Certain businesses legally must have processes in place to ensure customers and visitors who enter their business are vaccinated. Therefore, the staff on those businesses must also be vaccinated. These businesses include:
    -cafes, restaurants, bars,
    -event venues,
    -casinos,
    -concerts
    -aged care,
    -healthcare facilities (excluding patients)
    -hairdressers and barbers
    -exercise facilities
    -nightclubs
    -libraries
    -courts
    -local and central government agencies
    -social services providers with customer service counters.

Businesses with this mandate must have a way to check vaccine certificates for anyone entering.  Any staff in these businesses who are not vaccinated after 3 December must not come to work. There are new rules around what must happen with terminating their employment including giving them 4 weeks’ notice before termination.

  1. Workplaces can mandate vaccines if their risk assessment shows that is necessary. If businesses want to implement a mandate after having done a risk assessment they will need to draft and consult on a policy.  The Govt is rushing through a risk assessment framework which is due mid-Dec but meanwhile, we recommend consulting your legal or HR advisor for guidance. You can also visit: worksafe.govt.nz

Click here for a good summary of issues.

 

Thursday, 25 November 2021 - Education & training opportunities for future-focused, community-minded industries, in the new COVID world.

COVID-19 continues to change much of our daily lives and how we do business. Many industries have successfully adapted to remote working, staying connected online, and conducting business in accordance with new social distancing guidelines and health measures.  Emerging from such challenging times is an opportunity – this pandemic presents a unique chance to reflect on how we all need to evolve in the new world we now find ourselves in.

For the education sector, we know things will not go back to the way they were pre-pandemic. We also know we need to look to the future and reimagine how we work, learn, and teach going forward. With more Kiwis returning to our shores, and the high demand for skilled workers in local industries, we find ourselves able to bridge the training and workforce gap for our communities. By offering quality, accessible education and upskilling opportunities for our people, we ensure that our rohe has the right people for the right jobs.

COVID-19 may have prompted people to reassess their careers and the choices they have; this is where applied and vocational higher education and training come in. Toi Ohomai, as a subsidiary of Te Pūkenga, is training the next generation of our essential workers; our nurses, our teachers, those who are vital to our workforce and our communities. Using the latest technologies, techniques, and teaching practices, we can apply what we have learned during this pandemic to build adaptable and highly capable workforces for these future-focused industries. 

Since 2020, Toi Ohomai has seen increased domestic enrolments, with many choosing to upskill or retrain. We have also proudly worked with organisations affected by the pandemic, including the Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA), Te Arawa Group Holdings, Te Tatau o Te Arawa, and Tauhara North No. 2 Trust, in a bid to retrain staff to enable them to gain management and leadership jobs.

Toi Ohomai remains committed to the rohe in which we operate and is passionate about supporting industries and community to rebuild after such uncertain times. Although life will not be the same, the next generation of workers will bring new skills and insights learned through a time of challenge. This new era of graduates will be invaluable change agents as we look to the future with passion, purpose, and Manaakitanga in our hearts and minds.  

Leon de W Fourie
Chief Executive Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology
Rotorua Business Chamber Board Member

Friday, 19 November 2021 - Health & Wellness Services, Message from CEO to members.

We all may be encountering different levels of stress in our businesses, from shop floor to owners, as each of us tries to navigate our respective pathways through the maze of uncertainty that is COVID 19. We have never encountered anything quite like this in our lifetimes and no one has all the answers.

The Rotorua Business Chamber exists to facilitate business to business networking and matchmaking aimed at helping members.

Among our members, we have organisations that specialise in providing a range of Health and Wellness related services. We are seeking to match members who have a need for such services, with providers of these services.

To this end, we are planning to supply a list of providers out to members, and on our website, to help with facilitation and matchmaking.

If you are a Health and Wellness provider who would like to be a part of this project, can you please provide us with:
  1. Your business name and contact details (address, phone, website, and email)
  2. A brief (25–40 words summation) of the services provided
  3. Your service delivery preferences (one to one, small groups, larger workshop type of gatherings, on-line, etc.)
  4. An expression of any interest you may have in running group type of events in association with the Chamber
Respond to: charlie@rotoruachamber.co.nz

*NOTE: For businesses that are registered as providers under the Regional Business Partnership - there may be a government subsidy available for some of these services.

With appreciation for your assistance with this important matter.
Nga mihinui koutou

Bryce Heard
CEO


 

Friday, 17 September 2021- Bryce C Heard Letter to Ministers Re MIQ Facilities in Rotorua

Tena koutou Prime Minister and Ministers

MIQ services at Rotorua

My board has asked me to write and advise you of the very strong reaction that the Rotorua Business Community is expressing, against MBIE’s plans to add more MIQ hotel services in Rotorua.

We recognize the essential nature of the service, the need to provide space for New Zealanders overseas to return home (along with essential workers and their families) and we also appreciate the hard mahi that Auckland is doing at the present time.

Our understanding of the present situation is that the following cities are carrying the MIQ load for New Zealand.

Auckland        17        Population      1,572,000

Christchurch  6          Population     383,000

Hamilton        3          Population     177,000

Rotorua          3          Population     70,000

Wellington     2          Population     215,000

The concentration of MIQ’s in Rotorua is clearly much higher than any other city per head of population and this is putting an unacceptable level of pressure on our city services, including and especially Lakes District Health Board. It is our understanding that if just five people were to be admitted to Rotorua Hospital with Covid, our health facility would be considered to be dangerously overwhelmed.

Other larger cities than Rotorua, such as Tauranga (151,000), Dunedin (126,00) and Napier (116,000), among others, are not carrying any share of this national contribution to the COVID effort.

Additionally, Rotorua’s prime economic driver is (or was) Tourism. This is not so of any of the other major cities in NZ, (except Queenstown who only has 23,000 people).

As a part of our COVID recovery plan, the Rotorua tourism and hospitality sector have accelerated their efforts to attract and deliver major events and conferences in the city.  This has been working well and is utilizing our excellent facilities and chain of eleven higher-end hotels and providing a much-needed boost to our local economy. Of the city's eleven hotels, three are already taken by MIQ and any further losses will seriously undermine the recovery strategy.

As a related aside, a large amount of Rotorua commercial accommodation is currently occupied with emergency housing, which has created a number of economic and social issues.

In totality, the business sector is carrying an immense load as we seek to survive and recover through COVID and there are undeniable signs that our limit has been exceeded. Casualties are now occurring among our membership of 500 businesses, and elsewhere as well.

At the same time, the presence of MIQ facilities in our city means we have an extremely high risk of a community outbreak of the virus in an extremely vulnerable population.  An additional MIQ facility would increase this risk exponentially.

At our board meeting on Tuesday 14th September, concerns around a potential fourth MIQ was discussed, followed by a vote. Eleven members were opposed to more MIQ in Rotorua and one member abstained for conflicting reasons.

We would like to acknowledge and thank Tamati Coffey for attending that hui to provide an update on a range of different topics, including MIQ.

In summary, Rotorua is doing more than its share to contribute to the national COVID effort and feels very strongly that enough is enough.

We appreciate your consideration of our situation.

Ma te mihi ki o whakaaro

Bryce Heard

Chief Executive

Rotorua Business Chamber

 

Friday, 10 September 2021- New Zealand Business Should Celebrate

Today Government injected $430m into the NZ economy to assist business in meeting the cost of overheads during lockdown.

There is also the prospect of two further payments so long as the conditions that trigger the resurgent support payment still apply. (A prospect of a total of more than $1b.)

Bryce Heard from Rotorua Business Chamber said he was delighted with the outcome. We were hearing stories of desperation from business. The Auckland Chamber led a petition to Government for additional business support. That petition received close to 60,000 supporters.

Heard said, “The Chambers worked alongside other business organisations with our petition.”

We had a positive hearing from Minister Robertson and Minister Nash and are delighted with the result.”

  

Monday, 23 August - Back in Lockdown

It is a bitter blow to business and the whole of society, to be back in lockdown. Any COVID in the community, is by definition, a failure of the border control system. But here we are, so let’s do this lockdown properly and get it over with. NSW has shown us how NOT to do it in a half-hearted manner. The consequences to us will be similar if we are half-hearted about complying with the rules. This bug is vicious and takes no prisoners.

At the Chamber we are all working from home and doing our best to keep members informed of the situation regarding employment and government support available. We are posting on FB, running webinars, and maintaining updated info on our website.

Events are being temporarily postponed as necessary, but we are working with an expectation that everyone will play their part and we will get back to something resembling “normal” in a short space of time.

In the context of “everyone playing their part” we mean both the public and the border control/government in this team of 5 million, that makes up our country. The Prime Minister is urging us all to follow the rules and we are 100% behind her! We in turn urge government to speed up the national vaccination process and tighten up the border controls please.

Meantime, stay safe and feel free to call us for any support you may need.

Bryce and the team at the Chamber.

Friday, 13 August 2021 - Annual General Meeting 2021

The Annual General Meeting for the Rotorua Business Chamber was held at the Pullman, Rotorua, on Thursday, 5 August.
Chamber President, Kiri Tahana, said: “Our membership is diverse with broad and varied interests. Our challenge is to advocate for the collective interest."
Her Worship, the Mayor of Rotorua, Hon Steve Chadwick, spoke on how Rotorua has come together and thrived through trying times during the past year.
Bryce C Heard, Chief Executive of the Chamber, reported on another year of stellar growth for the Chamber and thanked members and sponsors for their extraordinary support over the year.

The Rotorua Business Chamber is delighted to announce the newly elected board members for 2021:

  • Bruce Thomasen

  • Miriam Hewson

  • Dr Leon Fourie

  • Brent Whibley

  • Geoff Rice

  • Kiri Tahana

  • Jacky James

  • Glenn Tasker

Co-opted board members are:

  • Frank Zhou

  • Michelle Urquhart

  • John McRae

  • Annie Canning

 

Monday, 19 July 2021 - Immigration New Zealand continue to struggle with the impact of COVID19

Last week’s announcement about the relaxation of the rules for employer supported Essential Skills work visas has highlighted the ongoing impact of COVID19 on a beleaguered Immigration New Zealand.

Dropping the requirement for labour marketing testing, proof of character and health compliance and employment agreements for migrant staff who wish to continue to work for their current employer is a welcome respite for employers desperate to retain skilled staff.  Also welcome is the extension of visas for lower-skilled workers from a 12 month period to 24 months.  However, these changes have delayed the rollout of the much-lauded Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) scheme, initially announced back in 2019.

This scheme will split the single application process for an employer-specific work visa into 3 checks, 2 of which will be employer-driven.  Any employer wanting to employ migrants on a work visa will have to be accredited first.  The way an employer will meet the labour market test will also be changed and for businesses in Rotorua it will become easier to comply.

Originally due to begin on 1 November 2021, last week’s announcements have meant there will be a lower uptake of visas under the new scheme, according to the Minister of Immigration Chris Faafoi.  He said that as a result, the AEWV scheme will be delayed until 2022.

The changes to the existing work visa scheme have been made under the special powers given to the Minister under the COVID19 emergency legislation passed in the wake of the 2020 lockdown.  These emergency measures allow for a quicker response to the pandemic’s ongoing ramifications.

What last week’s announcement also demonstrates is that these ramifications are not diminishing and that New Zealand’s migration policymakers are struggling to be proactive.  This struggle is starkly illustrated by the ongoing silence by the Minister about what is happening with the residence programme.  Whilst these short term measures are a sensible response, there is no long term solution in sight for migrants and employers who are seeking certainty.  Immigration New Zealand has a long way to go before things are back on track as they should be.

Michelle Urquhart

Associate: Tompkins Wake

Rotorua Business Chamber Board Member

  

Monday, 21 June 2021 - The Changing Business Landscape

Over the last year, many business owners will have experienced significant disruption, but also opportunity. I am reminded of a quote by Charles Darwin; ‘It is not the strongest who survive, nor the most intelligent, it is the one that is most adaptable to change’.

This is true for businesses and the technological revolution that continues to change the way we live, work, and relate to one another and is anticipated to see greater change in the next five years than the last two hundred years. Artificial intelligence (the simulation of cognitive behaviour where computers will make decisions, solve problems, and understand human communication) is anticipated by 2025 to 2030. This technology will help many businesses meet our customers’ increasing requirement for convenience, however, is anticipated to drive improved focus on our team and our culture, as the way people want to work will change.

As business owners, we have a responsibility to our teams to prepare our businesses for the future. Last year’s disruption probably meant that our traditional Business Plan went into the delete file as our focus moved to creating a new vision and purpose that would enable our businesses to compete in a different future. In these changing and less certain times, having a vision for our businesses and our team is important, however, equally important is an engaged team who will make your vision happen. Advice to me was that if I am not measuring team engagement, then I am not serious about it and - through digital survey tools - I should ask our team the following question several times each year:

 ‘On a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to recommend XYZ Company as a place to work/or recommend XYZ Company to a friend or colleague?’

The results will correlate to whether we achieve our vision or not. I hope the advice I received will help other businesses.

Glenn Tasker

Director: Quest Rotorua

Rotorua Business Chamber Board Member

 

 

Wednesday, 21 April 2021 - We simply need more houses

When we get an undersupply of any item, the price goes up. This is a basic fact of economics.

We have a chronic shortage of houses in this country, which successive governments have failed to address. Accordingly, the price of houses has continued to go up - and many people cannot now afford to buy a house, not just first home buyers.

When house prices go up, rent goes up as well, because the seller of the rental space must recover his/her costs - or go out of business.

When rent goes up, some can no longer afford the higher prices. The direct result of higher rent is homelessness.

The chronic housing shortage is the common driver of it all.

This is being obfuscated by misguided information and choice of words in the media about “homelessness is a deeply rooted problem”, “closing tax loopholes”, focussing on first home buyers not being able to afford a house, “bright-line tests” (read capital gains tax) and “greedy landlords” – to name just a few, recently in the media.

We simply need more houses.

Rotorua is at the forefront of this shortage.

When we get enough houses, house prices will come down, rents will come down, homelessness (and the associated issues with that) will all come down. A semblance of normality will resume.

Many of the houses that are being built were being built by the much-maligned “property investors”. By closing the so-called “loophole” we have made our NZ residential property owners probably the only business in the world, who are not allowed to claim the interest on their business as a legitimate tax-deductible expense. We have also discouraged the building of new houses and further added to the shortage, thereby fuelling further house and rental costs.

The introduction of a capital gains tax could not come at a worse time. Capital gains taxes have a place, but we should be helping the only group who can cure the housing shortage, rather than penalising them for helping.

Bryce C Heard

CEO: Rotorua Business Chamber