Last week we heard from Covid-19 Response and Education Minister Chris Hipkins of the move to Level 3 of our Omicon response effective from Friday 25 February. Alongside that announcement we also learned of a welcome move to allow all unvaccinated children and teens the ability to participate in school sports and other extracurricular activities. Minister Hipkins stated, “If you are participating in a school-organised activity, the vaccine pass, the vaccine requirement will not apply”.
This is great news but created confusion for clubs and venues across the country such as the NHHA and the National Hockey Centre (NHC). This also created the potential for inequity between clubs and schools whereby a school aged child could play hockey for their school with no vaccine requirement, but the same student would need to show proof of a vaccine to play for their club.
Hockey New Zealand with the support of Harbour Hockey and our colleagues around the country, have sought urgent clarification on this matter via Sport New Zealand. We understand that official guidance will be provided to us when the necessary legal changes are completed no later than 15 March.
In the meantime, the scenario for the NHHA remains unchanged. As a Covid Required Site, and until there is further clarification on vaccines and school (aged) sport, all people aged 12-yrs 3-months and over are still required to show proof of vaccine to enter the National Hockey Centre. The NHHA is actively encouraging a more inclusive stance to enable children and young people to play hockey at their school and at any venue, and we are hopeful to have this confirmed in the next two weeks.
Thank you for your continued patience and understanding as we navigate through a changing landscape of mandates and restrictions.
– Brad Clark, Chief Executive, North Harbour Hockey Association