A ticket to freedom: The arguments for mandating COVID-19 vaccination certificates

There's a new hot ticket this summer - a COVID-19 vaccine certificate. 

They'll be available from November and anyone wanting to go to a big event - like a summer festival - will need to have one to get in. 

The Government is still considering whether they'll be needed for entry to bars and pubs like they are overseas, but you won't need one to visit the doctor or go to the supermarket. 

You'll be able to print it out on paper, or use a digital version - but they won't be part of the NZ COVID Tracer app you use to scan in. 

Tuesday marked exactly seven weeks since New Zealand went into lockdown over the Delta variant of COVID-19, but respite is back in sight.

"The vaccine is a ticket to freedom," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said at her 1pm press conference. 

Homegrown announced its lineup for the March festival on Tuesday, only made possible with the announcement of vaccine passports.

"It'll definitely make a lot of people smiling and happy," Homegrown managing director Andrew Tuck told Newshub. 

"I think it's up to people to decide whether they want to go to a festival or not go to a festival. The line is now in the sand for them to make that decision."

The Prime Minister made way for tech boffins from the Ministry of Health at her press conference to show off their handy work on the upcoming vaccine certificates. 

It's nice and simple, they claimed. It won't be available on the existing COVID Tracer app for privacy reasons but will be accessible through it.

There will be a link within the app and you can get to it from inside the app - it's just not in the app, if that makes sense.

The next big game at Eden Park will require a vaccine pass. 

"No jab, no ticket," Eden Park chief executive Nick Sautner told Newshub. 

That applies to any events - like Gunners - held at big venues like Eden Park.

"We want to re-energise, we want to reconnect with the community and have that escapism and vaccination and vaccination passports will be part of that journey."

Hospitality and smaller venues - like Auckland's locked down Whammy Bar - could be mandated too. It might mean extra staffing, but it would make the job easier.

"If it's mandated then it's going to save a lot of hassle on the venue side from arguing with people on the door or online, etcetera," Whammy Bar co-owner Tom Anderson told Newshub. 

We know from past outbreaks that COVID-19 likes a workout, so gyms are also in the mix. There's a strong argument for mandating there too, particularly if you've experienced anti-vaccination abuse firsthand.

"While it's not quite death threats, being told you should die is pretty close to it, and I don't think that's acceptable for anybody, but particularly for frontline staff, and my concern is that the frontline staff will get attacked if a business starts making decisions an individual doesn't like," says Exercise NZ chief executive Richard Beddie told Newshub. 

Despite some of our biggest clusters being church-related - like the Assembly of God - churches are unlikely to require passes.

"There are some areas that actually are much more sensitive and I would put social gatherings that are privately organised and church events in that category," Ardern said. 

Big gatherings like Waitangi that aren't ticketed are trickier but organisers can request to incorporate passes.

Vaccine certificates are already being used all over the world, and if you're not already vaccinated, remember it takes six weeks between doses and another two to be fully immunised.

"Summer is close so to be fully vaccinated and fully protected and enjoy the things you love you need to be vaccinated this month not in December," Ardern said. 

Ardern's team has a to-do list too, like sorting out the RealMe website, where we'll apply for the passes. 

It crashed soon after she announced it.