Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Aucklanders due to find out when they can leave the city before Christmas

After 91 days in a strict Covid lockdown, Aucklanders will find out in a few hours exactly when they will be able to leave the city – just in time for Christmas.

And the taste of freedom feels even closer, as thousands of children in years 1 to 10 were allowed back at school in Auckland today; while those in the Waikato region enjoyed lesser restrictions in its first day back at alert level 2.

The Government is due to make an announcement about the country’s largest city and when its residents will be able to come and go at 1pm.

But it is understood a big part of that freedom over the holidays will coincide with people having a vaccine passport that shows proof of vaccination or an exemption from being vaccinated.

November 29 is the expected date to move into the traffic light system. However, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says there is still work to do on that.

Speaking to Newstalk ZB’s Mike Hosking, he said decisions have not been made around requirements for booster vaccine shots and how long they should last for. People will be able to book a booster shot from November 26.

However, Pfizer’s trials were based on a median gap of up to 11 months and the Government had recommended six.

“When you get your certificate, it will be valid for six months. At the end of that six months it will be very clear whether you need to get another one.”

Vaccine passport website overwhelmed as people rush to it

People wanting to download their vaccine passports on the My Covid Record website – which is now live – faced a bumpy start this morning, however, when the site seemingly buckled under the pressure.

People trying to access the service were told “too many requests” at around 7.15am.

Hipkins told Hosking that once the country moves into the traffic light framework people will need to prove that they have it, either show it and print it out, he said.

The website was working this morning and can produce about 200 vaccine certificates per second.

“All the feedback I’ve had is that it’s working but there may be periods where there’s a little delay.”

More than a million people had downloaded their records since the website had been operational. The next step to get your certificate should be a “very seamless one”.

He thought most people would find it straightforward and they had about 2000 people road test it – many with different levels of digital literacy, he said.

Senior citizens also have the option of making a call to get their certificate instead of having to download or print it out, he said.

On people who had been vaccinated overseas, he told TVNZ’s Breakfast that that part of the vaccine passport system would take longer as it was a manual process.

Some countries would be easier to verify records than other countries.

Put to him that people were giving feedback that the website seemed to be overloaded, Hipkins said there were two parts of the process – the first part of which takes the longest.

Public urged to spread visits to website over a few days

“The first part is creating My Covid record, which is something we have been encouraging people to do over the last couple of weeks, they’ve been able to do that for the last few weeks.

“That is actually part of the process that takes the longest. And if people have done that, once they log in to access their My Covid record and create their certificate, that in itself is a process that takes only a minute or two.”

He said the part that takes the longest is verifying personal ID and information so it can be matched to the vaccination record.

Dr Andrew Chen, research fellow, Koi Tū – Centre for Informed Futures, University of Auckland, said he thought it was unfortunate that we are in a world that requires vaccine passes, but it is understandable why we need them.

“The public health risk justifies the intrusion into our lives, and the passes have been designed with privacy in mind – even if they are not perfect at protecting privacy.

“My hope is that we can stop using them soon, and I call on the Government to provide more certainty on the conditions where we can stop using the vaccine passes.”

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