Napier Port will introduce saliva testing in November as part of its vaccine mandate protocols as it works towards achieving 100% compliance by the end of the year. This vaccine mandate applies to port employees, contractors and visitors, says port chief executive Todd Dawson.
“Firstly, we did this (vaccine mandate) to protect our people and to play our part in protecting the community by raising vaccination rates.
“Secondly, to maximise economic recovery in a post-lockdown New Zealand, we have to enable businesses to be viable and sustainable.
“If other businesses are going to be in a position to do the same, especially small-medium sized organisations, they need more clarity and support to empower them to implement vaccination protocols. Even for a well-equipped business like ours, at times over the past six weeks introducing this policy has been all consuming with its own challenges. If other businesses are able to benefit from our experience, we would like to offer our support and learnings.”
Napier Port’s timeline to mandatory vaccinations for all port users, contractors and employees:
- September – procures a New Zealand-made, saliva PCR testing unit with the intention of carrying out surveillance testing on port
- October – recruits two specialists to manage the process and carry out PCR testing
- 20 October, Napier Port becomes the first port to voluntarily implement mandatory vaccination for its entire workforce
- October – begins discussions to extend requirement to all port visitors and contractors
- November – saliva PCR testing begins
- December 31 – mandatory vaccination for all port users in place.
Dawson says the vast majority are supportive of its proposal.
“A small number have expressed concerns related to potential impacts on their operations. We are committed to working with them, and supporting them with this.”
Napier Port will be one of the first non-health sector businesses in New Zealand to implement saliva PCR testing technology, says Dawson.
“This surveillance testing will not replace official public health testing, but it will provide an added layer of protection to help minimise any potential spread of COVID-19 at the port. Initiatives like this, that support industry requirements to ensure business continuity, are urgently needed.
“Wrapping the right process around our testing is vital, to ensure it integrates with public health requirements and to give our people confidence in the testing itself and our management of it.
“Ports are ideally placed to trial new measures to combat COVID-19, having been on the frontline for 18 months, undergone regular testing, amongst the first to become vaccinated and also operating under often ambiguous and every-changing guidelines. It has prepared us well to respond swiftly, balancing the regulatory requirements with the practicalities of running a business and 24hr/7 day a week operation,” Dawson says.