Jacinda Ardern to companies contracting frontline workers: Test your staff or face the consequences

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has issued an explicit reminder to private companies with staff on the frontline: Test your staff or face the consequences.

This comes after a security guard working at the Grand Millennium MIQ facility tested positive for Covid-19 – he was not vaccinated.

Speaking to media this afternoon, Ardern said she was “very reassured” about the testing regime across the agencies it has responsibility for, such as Customs, and Immigration.

“But the orders make it very explicit: If you are an employer, for instance, a private enterprise, and your workforce is covered by a testing order, you have the responsibility to make sure they are being tested”.

The orders, she said, are “very explicit” on this issue.

“Some individuals are working for private employers; there, the responsibility sits with their employer to make sure that that workforce is being tested.”

That is a legal obligation, she said.

“And there is a penalty regime for employers who are not doing that.”‘

That penalty, according to the Covid-19 Public Health Response Law, an infringement fee of $300 or a fine not exceeding $1000.

The Government contracts out many businesses to work on the frontline, including private security.

The security guard who tested positive was not someone who was anti vaccines, Ardern said.

Meanwhile, Ardern is offering reassurances to those people travelling from India to New Zealand, before the two-week travel exemption from India ticket comes into effect.
“They’ll have the same level of precaution and care as we do for every flight.”

She said the Government treats every international arrival as if they potentially have Covid-19.

According to Ministry of Health data from the past two weeks, 55 people who have travelled from India to New Zealand have tested positive for Covid-19 – 73 per cent of all arrivals.

“If that number of people from any country were coming in with Covid, that would give us cause to pause and look at mitigations to try and reduce that risk,” Ardern said today.

This follows criticism from Green MP Golriz Ghahraman, who said on Twitter: “Our ethnic communities of South Asian origin need to know race isn’t a factor in our Covid-19 risk management”.

Ardern said the travel suspension was not country-specific.

“It is about the cases we are seeing currently from that region.”

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