Subscribe to our free weekly newsletter
Send news

News tags

mental health  physical activity  earthquake  vacancies  families  public health  children  funding  poverty  health determinants  social  Community development  planning  employment  healthy cities  volunteers  newsletter  youth  volunteering  nutrition  employment opportunity  housing  alcohol and drugs  maori  community engagement  rebuilding  wellbeing  disabilities  Lectures  counselling  Training  earthquake recovery  sustainability  event  community gardens  Community  seminar  Awards  stress  Community Groups  mens health  research  arts  smokefree  culture  men  exercise  migrants  community event  education  environment  resilience  human rights  health  medical  business  sport  conferences  survey  mental wellbeing  Courses  obesity  elderly  support group  environmental health  healthy food  health promotion  violence  pacific health  resources  rebuild  women  race relations  meeting  gardens  workshop  services  leadership  forum  water  disabled  repair  transport  prevention  pacific  dance  fundraising  asian health  sexual health  inequality  cancer  support  disasters  development  mindfulness  dementia  presentation  collaboration  health in all policies  data analysis  recovery  smoking  law  drugs and alcohol  technology  safety  cycling  Sleep  policy  parenting  media  hearing  walking  land  neighbours  social justice  qualification  resilient cities  information  community connection  consultation  oral health  bullying  depression  youth empowerment  young people  activities  non-profit  charity  harm  NURSES  addiction  disease  Communication  alcohol  symposium  submission  anxiety  accessibility  Relationships  eating  economics  Advocacy  eLearning  falls  parking  energy  efficiency  heating  insulation  advice  Eating Disorders  abuse  waste  Matariki  webinar  diabetes  workplace  Film  Climate Change  solutions  urban  management  economy  plan  restoration  Report  Vulnerability  welfare  parks  learning  awareness  emergencies  legislation  injury prevention  reading  Meeting Room  conservation  language  refugees  recreation  built environment  data  venue  urban design  Food  older people  finances  suicide  heritage  gender  recycling  breastfeeding  public  identity  Nursing  submissions  Rainbow  biodiversity  campaign  promotion  Gut Health  diversity  therapy  older adults  sexuality  computing  pollution  School Holidays  Arts Therapy  providers  gambling  Maori health  Cervical cancer  screening  trauma  autism  Governance  treaty of waitangi  care  mentoring  pets  relaxation  Professional Development  pornography  exhibition  history  discrimination  vaping  equity  lockdown  grief  rural  hygiene  participation  tourism  summer  intervention  warning  podcast  science  petition  swimming  roadworks  traffic  wildlife  beaches  pools  immunisation  vaccination  brain  preparation  open day  market  evaluation  noise  music  property  testing 

New mask exemption card to remove uncertainty

Wednesday, April 27, 2022   Posted in: Signatory Notice Board By: Administrator With tags: identity, disease, prevention

Beehive media release: 27th April 2022

People who have genuine reasons for not being able to wear a face mask can access a new personalised exemption card from the end of May, Minister for COVID-19 Response Chris Hipkins and Minister for Disability Issues Carmel Sepuloni announced today.

“We know that face masks are a crucial part of our defence against the spread of COVID-19 and using them will continue to help protect loved ones and save lives,” Chris Hipkins said.

“The new process is being introduced to make sure people who have genuine reasons for not being able to wear a mask have more certainty in being able to demonstrate that.

“For the business community, the new cards will mean evidence that a person with the new card is exempt from the requirement to wear a mask, removing uncertainty that businesses have been dealing with.

“We’ve recognised that for some people an impairment, health conditions, a physical disability or mental health reasons can mean wearing a mask isn’t possible. These reasons aren’t always obvious or easy to explain and that’s left some New Zealanders who’re genuinely unable to wear a mask not being able to access the businesses and services they normally would.

“It’s also meant uncomfortable situations, with people needing to explain private health information to strangers, when they’re trying to do basic tasks like shopping. We’ve worked hard to find a solution which avoids this.

“The new process will be administered by the Ministry of Health and allows people who can’t wear a mask to get a personalised card to help them access businesses and services where wearing a mask is required.

“The new card will also help businesses. Sadly, in attempting to verify whether people are genuinely exempt, workers – especially those in retail settings such as supermarkets – have experienced escalating and unsafe behaviour from some customers.

“This new process gives assurance that when someone presents this card, they’re genuinely exempt.   COVID-19 Orders will be amended to provide that the new card is conclusive proof that someone is exempt,” said Chris Hipkins.

The new cards will be entirely optional – but they will be legally recognised as conclusive proof of a person’s exempt status, which the old cards are not.

“We will not be cancelling the old cards or requiring affected people to go through the process of getting a new card if they don’t want to, however the old cards will not have the legitimacy of the new cards,” said Chris Hipkins.

Carmel Sepuloni said that people will be able to apply for a card through the Ministry of Health website from the end of May, and it will be issued to them digitally or by post.

“An 0800 call free number will be available, and it’ll also cater for those who need interpreter or translation services when requesting their card,” Carmel Sepuloni said. 

“I particularly want to acknowledge the work of organisations such as Blind Citizens New Zealand, the Disabled Persons Assembly, Deaf Aotearoa and other non-government organisations who have administered the mask exemption process previously. Mask wearing remains an important public health measure to reduce the likelihood of COVID-19 transmission and keep us all safe.

“It’s important we all understand that for some people wearing a face mask is difficult. This includes people with physical, intellectual or mental health impairments, and people (such as some victims of violent crime) who have experienced past trauma.  Those people should still have the same right as others to access good and services.

“This policy change promotes this important message, and also creates a new approach to accessing exemptions through the Ministry of Health.

“What’s been developed through extensive consultation is a balanced approach which is accessible for exempt people, gives businesses certainty and also makes it harder for others who might try to undermine the process,” Carmel Sepuloni said.

Notes:

  • People unable to wear a mask and who already have a non-personalised exemption card issued by the Ministry of Health or the Disabled Persons Assembly can continue using that card.
  • Both the new personalised cards and existing non-personalised cards issued by the Ministry of Health are optional as an aid to avoiding discrimination.
  • The difference is that the old cards do not have legal standing and can be questioned. The new cards will provide proof of exemption.
  • If they are questioned, the person questioning them will be at risk of triggering the duties and obligations under the Human Rights Act that protect disabled people (noting that this is defined very broadly in the Human Rights Act)
  • Both the new personalised exemption cards and existing non-personalised exemption cards from the Ministry of Health or the Disabled Persons Assembly are optional for people who are exempt as an aid to them in avoiding discrimination.
  • Exempt persons continue to have the same rights of access to businesses and services irrespective of their optional use of an exemption card.
  • The new cards should be accepted by businesses because they have clear legal status as proof of exemption.
  • Businesses continue to have a right to deny entry to people who are threatening or behaving inappropriately.
  • People who fraudulently misuse the process will be in breach of a COVID-19 Order under the COVID-19 (Public Health Response) Act 2020.