Greeters not bouncers

greeters not bouncers

Church leaders are confused about how to implement the My Vaccine Pass – one sums it up saying “We are greeters – not bouncers”.

From December 3, people wanting to attend church services, gatherings, hospitality events, gyms and those wanting to avail themselves of close contact businesses will need the My Vaccine Pass to prove they have been double-vaccinated.

Those responsible for such occasions who fail to enforce vaccination requirements will face a fine of up to $15,000.

On Tuesday, Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Wood announced the NZ Pass Verifier – an app that can be used on mobile devices to verify the holder of the My Vaccine Pass.

The NZ Pass Verifier is designed to enable churches and those organising gatherings and hospitality events to stop people who don’t meet the vaccination requirements from entering high-risk situations and venues under the ‘traffic light’ system.

However, leaders of church communities across the country are expressing concern and confusion about how to implement the My Vaccine Pass.

Nigel Cottle, a church leader and the general manager of Crave Café, told RNZ that he is nervous about implementing the new system. He says he is going to take it on himself to stand at the door to check My Vaccine passes.

“My hope is that people have a generosity to the staff because it’s not their decision, but they are having to outwork the implications of the government policy which in general we are supportive of.”

Cottle’s concern is echoed by a number of Catholic clergy around the country. “We have greeters at the front door, not bouncers,” a priest told CathNews.

“We understand the seriousness of the situation, but turning people away goes against the grain.

“We’re in the business of welcoming people,” he said.

He is a little critical of the recent bishops’ statement that some see creating different categories of Mass-goers.

Another who is supportive of the My Vaccine passport told CathNews he thinks it is important that the Church changes its language and understanding about masses for the vaccinated and un-vaccinated.

“It’s important the Church places the emphasis on people gathering, of people congregating, rather than having masses for the vaccinated and un-vaccinated”, he said.

“It’s also not just about Mass”, he said. “Christmas is coming, traditionally a time for people to go to confession. I’m not sure how social distancing is going to work inside the confessional.

“People normally speak quietly during confession – I don’t know how speaking quietly and face masks will go.

“We don’t want everyone to hear,” he said with a grin.

Another priest told CathNews that he is yet to hear from his diocese about what to do when an unvaccinated person without a My Vaccine Pass wants to join the vaccinated congregation for Mass.

“There’s nothing. Policy is fine, but it needs to be supported. If you will the ends, you will the means.

“What do we do if an unvaccinated person insists on joining the congregation?

“We don’t want disagreements at the door of the church, we don’t want to be the State’s police.

“What do we do?”, he asked.

One priest told CathNews that ultimately if a non-vaccinated person insisted on joining the vaccinated group he would consider not proceeding with the Mass.

“This virus doesn’t care if people are at Mass or not. It loves groups of people. With a big congregation we’ve got the safety of the whole congregation to consider,” he said.

The priest said he was earlier in conversation with a parishioner who observed that scanning both the Covid sign and then having to have her My Vaccine Pass scanned is going to take a bit longer to get into Church.

“Hope you have lots of Covid signs and lots of people scanning, and it’s not raining,” she told her parish priest.

The priest said his parishioner is picking there is going to be chaos.

“Hardly a vote of confidence,” he said.

The experience of Church ministers is being echoed by Francis Tipene of Tipene Funerals.

He’s questioning whether the My Vaccine Pass and traffic light system will make things easier for grieving whanau or more difficult.

Covid has meant significant change for tangi – from storing tūpāpaku for weeks on end in the hopes of alert level shifts to allow for a tangi to having whaikōrero on Zoom. Many have found this very difficult.

Tipene says navigating through the policy changes has not only been tough on them but on the people they serve.

The church ministers’ confusion is not helped by the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins both saying venue organisers requiring Covid-19 vaccination passes will be able to check them visually instead of using an official app if they wish to, but the Ministry of Health disagreeing saying that vaccination passes would need to be scanned to allow entry.

“Visually checking passes isn’t enough to allow entry. Scanning someone’s pass proves that it is authentic, valid and has not expired,” said the Ministry of Health on its website.

However, on Wednesday Adern contradicted the Ministry of Health.

“You can sight, of course, someone’s vaccine pass. If you have any concerns, you can ask for verifying ID if you would like,” she said.

“[The app is] a handy tool to use because it gives you confidence that the pass you’re being shown is indeed a valid pass, but it’s not a requirement,” she said.

On Wednesday night, the Government passed ‘under urgency’ legislation that seriously curbs the freedoms of unvaccinated people.

The legislation was passed without the usual parliamentary scrutiny, even drawing criticism from the government’s Speaker, Trevor Mallard.



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News category: New Zealand, Palmerston, Top Story.

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