News Top Stories The Puzzle of Ending Vaccine Mandates in New Zealand
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The Puzzle of the Coalition Pledge to End Vaccine Mandates

By Craig McCulloch, Deputy Political Editor

Published on July 20, 2023

Background

The New Zealand coalition government faces a conundrum: how to fulfill its promise of ending Covid-19 vaccine mandates when such mandates were abolished over a year ago.

The Commitment

New Zealand First secured the commitment during government formation negotiations last year. Leader Winston Peters celebrated this policy win in his state-of-the-nation speech in March. However, Labour had already scrapped all government vaccine mandates in September 2022.

Unanswered Questions

Questions linger about the coalition's pledge. What exactly does it mean to "end" vaccine mandates? While technically all Covid-19 mandates have ceased, some vaccine requirements persist at individual organizations under workplace health and safety policies. Cabinet discussions are needed to clarify whether the commitment extends to cover these workplace mandates.

Private Businesses and Decisions

The coalition's stance on private businesses' decisions remains uncertain. Health New Zealand, for instance, expects high-risk staff to be fully vaccinated, but the government currently leaves such decisions to private entities.

As the puzzle unfolds, the coalition grapples with balancing public health and individual rights.

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