Mayor disappointed with latest vaccine pass issue

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By Adam Burns, Local Democracy Reporter

Waimakariri District Mayor Dan Gordon says he is frustrated another instance of counterfeit vaccine passes have been circulating in the district.

A 61-year-old man was arrested in Rangiora on Wednesday when police raided his signwriting business in relation to allegations that he was distributing fake vaccine passes.

The man allegedly told a Stuff reporter, who was given a fake vaccine pass, he was doing it so people could “see their loved ones”.

It is the second instance of vaccine pass forgery in the Waimakariri and comes only a month after GP and weight-loss clinic owner Jonie Girouard was revealed to be issuing fake Covid-19 vaccine exemptions.

The Medical Council of New Zealand confirmed a fortnight ago the Kaiapoi GP was no longer registered to practice medicine.

Mr Gordon says the country’s in battling Covid-19 relied on everyone doing the right thing.

“It’s obviously disappointing and frustrating to see another instance of people evading the rules,” he says.

“The vast majority of people are on-board with the programme, as we see through vaccination rates and mask wearing, and are playing their part to ensure we reduce the risk of transmission as much as possible. The rules are there for a reason and I strongly encourage all businesses and individuals to follow them.”

A period of amnesty is being offered by police until 4pm on February 1 after a number of individuals in the wider Christchurch area were identified as having received a fraudulent My Vaccine Pass.

“Police will be working through this list and those who are currently in possession of such a document are strongly encouraged to surrender it to the Rangiora Police Station” says Detective Sergeant Daniel Isherwood said.

Police advised businesses where passes are required to be “vigilant” when scanning and checking QR codes.

The Ministry of Health says it’s vaccine certificates and passes are the only official, free and verifiable forms of vaccine documentation.

“Fraudulent use or misuse of My Vaccine Passes will be taken very seriously and not be tolerated, a spokesperson says.

“Police are able to enforce the legitimate use of the My Vaccine Pass and can ask to check that a person’s ID matches their pass,spot checks at venues.”

The Ministry says the QR code on the pass will show the full name and date of birth for the person the pass was issued to, even if the other details on the pass have been changed

“It is these details that the business would compare to photo ID if they elected to do so.

“This mitigates the risk of someone changing / editing the details written on the pass itself because they will not be relied on by the business when using the business verifier app.”