COVID-19 information for disabled people

The Office has been asked to work with other government agencies and disabled people to bring together on our website a list of the additional supports and adapted approaches available for disabled people alongside all the welfare supports available to all New Zealanders.

The public health measures being implemented to address the Delta Variant are important for all New Zealanders.

At the same time, some adaptations are required for some disabled people that will not impact the overall effectiveness of the approaches.  It is expected that all New Zealanders understand the need for these adaptations and exceptions for some in our communities.

Taking this approach means that disabled people are not disproportionately impacted by the approaches we are taking to respond to the current COVID-19 threat.

It is also important that disabled people get the support they require from the range of wellbeing initiatives available for all New Zealanders.

 Information on this page will be updated as we receive it. Currently we have information on: 

Accessible and alternate format information on COVID-19

Key COVID-19 information in Te Reo Māori and over 33 other languages, plus accessible formats for the disabled community, is available from the Unite Against COVID-19 website

COVID-19 testing (information from Ministry of Health)

  • All vaccine and testing sites are health services, and the Ministry of Health has a firm expectation that all health services are accessible to disabled people.
    • There are already accessible options for disabled people at all testing and vaccination sites in some regions. Fully accessible options are being rolled out to wider sites nationally.
  • Waiting to be tested is frustrating for everyone - we are aware that waiting can be particularly challenging for people with autism or intellectual disabilities who may struggle more with their routines being disrupted, or who may struggle to understand why they are waiting and the importance of being tested.
  • When people arrive at a site they should identify themselves as having additional support requirements to ensure they are well supported and given priority.
  • Testing facilities have been experiencing high demand - the Ministry of Health nevertheless is looking into how priority access can be achieved for disabled people and others for whom queuing is unmanageable.
  • There are already accessible options for disabled people at all testing and vaccination sites in some regions. Fully accessible options are being rolled out to wider sites nationally.
  • We are aware that for some people, testing through GPs rather than testing centres has been an option, and this may form a larger part of the solution if it can be achieved without compromising infection control and access to essential healthcare

Mask wearing and exemptions

Given the contagious nature of the Delta variant, from 11.59 pm Wednesday 18 August, it is mandatory for everyone aged 12 and over to wear a face covering when visiting any business or service currently open at Alert Level 4. Wearing a face covering is about keeping yourself and others safe.

Exemption card for face coverings 

We know that some people who have a disability or health condition may not be able to wear a face-covering safely or comfortably. If you cannot wear one, you can get an exemption card. You can show your exemption card when needed, for example to a bus driver. 

You do not need to have an exemption card, but you may feel more comfortable showing something official to confirm you cannot wear a face covering.

Get an exemption card

You can contact Disabled Persons Assembly NZ on 04 801 9100 or at info@dpa.org.nz to get an exemption card.

Mental health and wellbeing

New Zealand’s return to Alert Level 4 can be an unsettling time, and this uncertainty can have an impact on mental health. 

It’s important to remember that our approach has worked to date. We have stamped out COVID-19 before and we can do it again.

This is an uncertain time and many of us will be anxious as a result. Please take advantage of free tools and resources available to support your mental wellbeing.

Find more resources on the COVID-19 website

Public transport

Most bus services around the country are boarding passengers through the back door only, but will make exceptions for those with mobility needs.

 However in Wellington, Metlink is taking a different approach:

“At alert level 4 all Metlink buses are now boarding from the back door to ensure our front line staff can remain in a bubble and safely physically distance from passengers.  The health and safety of our staff, as well as our customers, is always going to be our top priority.

We understand that this has implications for customers who have access needs but no one will be left behind by Metlink.

If you are unable to catch public transport due to restricted access on our bus service, please contact us directly on 0800 801 700, and arrangements for alternative travel can be arranged to ensure we get you to where you need to be.

Please note that passengers using these alternative services will need to wear face coverings in line with strengthened government advice.”

Personal protective equipment use in health and disability care settings

The Ministry of Health has guidance on the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) in health and disability care settings on their website. 

Shopping

The United Against COVID-19 website provides information on shopping and services available while under Alert Level 4 .

We will update this section with information on shopping with a companion when we have it. 

The Student Volunteer Army Grocery Delivery Service is operating in Auckland, from 12pm, 19 August 2021. Orders can be made through shop.sva.org.nz or by calling 09 801 2122. Anyone not in Auckland who requires support accessing groceries can call the Student Volunteer Army on 0800 005 902.

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