From Rotary International's website
CLUB AND DISTRICT MEETINGS
Q: Should my club or district continue to hold meetings?
A: Rotary International recommends that districts and Rotary and Rotaract clubs meet virtually, cancel, or postpone meetings. Closely examine your personal circumstances, including any health issues, when you consider travel and participation in events.
The Rotary International Board’s position is that “Australia, New Zealand, and some Pacific Island nations have done an admirable job managing the pandemic and the threat may not seem severe everywhere”
The Board’s view as a humanitarian organization at the forefront of fighting disease worldwide—including COVID-19— Rotary International is obligated to follow guidance from the World Health Organization. (WHO)
To that end the policy to limit travel and apply a consistent approach to meetings and gatherings is directed at Rotary’s commitment and responsibility to lead in the global effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The guidance from WHO through its recommendations is about containment. Australia, New Zealand and most of the Pacific nations have gone past containment to following the very hard path of elimination.
This is recognised by WHO and there have been a number of positive comments by WHO officials of the effectiveness of our regional strategy.
However WHO has had to balance its advice because many large countries have rejected elimination as a strategy. WHO’s advice has been to question how, with elimination, we can learn to “live with COVID” and also to raise the issue of how the region can ‘exit’ the elimination phase.
WHO’s argument has been rebutted by regional health authorities and experts.
In New Zealand, Dr Collin Tukuitonga, a public health expert from the University of Auckland, (on RNZ Morning Report) commented specifically on this issue and said:
“New Zealand's strategy is entirely appropriate for our circumstances. Some of the nuances in the WHO message is lost on some people, they're not saying absolutely don't do... I think in New Zealand we have a very strong strategy that's proven to work .... (and) ...the WHO advice doesn't really apply to New Zealand.
He continued the “ ...WHO (advice) is not the final word on the matter, each country will need to make up its own mind about what's appropriate at the local level."
The Zone 8 District Governors and Governors-Elect have met and considered this situation.
The advice to Clubs and Rotarians in the District 9920 is:
Rotary’s key message of “preventing the spread” must remain at the fore front of our public image in our communities
Our position is guided by our law, our community expectations and ensuring that our position remains in touch with the communities where ‘contain and eliminate’ is the high price paid to achieve beyond that possible in other countries that are forced to ‘live’ with community spread
In continuing our work, during our centenary year, we must set the absolute best example on preventing spread and to that end to following settings have been established:
we will follow our public health controls and advocate those controls, even if voluntary, such as QR code scanning and Bluetooth tracking
we will remain vigilant and continue to support any of our very different efforts that are the basis of our countries jurisdictional and legal settings on containment and elimination
so long as elimination is the price our region pays for the extra benefit we have through elimination, we will respect the effort and sacrifice that has been and continues to be made to maintain elimination – to do otherwise risks damage to Rotary’s public image in our countries and sets us apart from the standard that WHO has had to adopt in its approach of ‘living’ with community spread
we will advocate strongly in favour or vaccination. Vaccination is not a complete solution if there is community spread, as is shown from the US CDC’s advice. Like the measles, the risks with COVID will remain. This is because there will always be a proportion of the community that, for various reasons, remain unvaccinated and the vaccine may not be completely effective as the virus mutates.
we will organise our meetings to, in the strictest sense, follow the public health settings as issued by each country.
if a jurisdiction’s public health settings are restrictive in relation to in-person meetings, then the only acceptable response is to implement those restrictions. To this end, any meeting should be organised with a health and safety and risk management plan based on the template provided and ensuring the the District’s version of the RI Crisis Management plan is part of that plan and finally
all meetings attendees should be informed that both Rotary in New Zealand or the Pacific and Rotarians and guests rely on the public health settings and health and safety plans.
The following clause is provided as a guide to how to implement that advice to attendees.
Our proud history, especially the Area of Focus on elimination of preventable disease, is being delivered in the countries in Zone 8.
We have a great opportunity to reinforce our message on polio, and the work we have done in the recent past in supporting our Pacific nations on the measles outbreak, and the ongoing work of our projects such as RAM – Rotarians Against Malaria.